It may look easy; after all they are just jumping off a cliff but don’t be fooled; cliff jumping is one of the most dangerous sports around. It got its nickname ‘tombstoning’ from the number of deaths that occur each year. Professional cliff divers train for years working on precision and timing as well as knowing exactly what they are jumping off and what they are jumping into. This is one sport where a mere second of miscalculation can lead to death; literally in an instance.
Watching professional cliff divers with their acrobatic turns and flips can be done in resort towns and at International competitions and some of the thrilling cliff dives below should be left to the professionals. What makes these dives so spectacular? For some, the height of the cliff alone will make anyone think twice about jumping in. For others; it’s the epic scenery you surround yourself with as you take the plunge. Finally; it is the danger that makes these jumps so enticing. Blowholes, shallow waters and even diving holes in the middle of an ice filled lake make this sport as dangerous as it is fun. Take the plunge and discover the 10 most thrilling cliff dives in the world.
10 Rick’s Café, Negril Jamaica
This popular cliffside bar is the hottest destination for cliff diving in Jamaica. Not only does it boast breathtaking sunsets but amateurs and professionals will find adrenaline rushing leaps. Three levels of diving in which the highest is 35 feet allow even children to take this thrilling plunge. The most exciting awaits visitors at the top of the trees where local divers take off into spectacular leaps. The crystal clear water, the hoards of people cheering you on, and the live band coupled with the sunset make this dive the ultimate place to make a splash.
9 Ord River, Australia
With some of the highest cliffs on this list Ord River cliff diving should only be attempted by experienced divers. Gorges, waterfalls and mountain peaks along the river make the Kimberly region in Western Australia a beautiful place to take a leap. Cliffs reaching as high as 84 feet line the river and water depth is deep enough to be safe. But jumps from this high up must be precise and accurate. One of the least densely populated places on earth we recommend bringing a buddy along. If you can’t muster up the courage to plunge 84 feet down, there are plenty of other smaller cliffs and waterfalls to jump off.
8 Kahekili's Leap—Kaunolu, Lanai, Hawaii
These dramatic cliffs are where ancient history and modern sport have come together. Also known as Warrior’s leap it was here that King Kamehameha's warriors had to prove themselves by jumping off the high cliffs into the shallow waters. Today it's a popular and thrilling cliff dive for locals who not only have to plunge the 80 feet into the water but must avoid the 15 foot rock base that extends at the bottom. The trickiest part is the fact that the water is only 10-20 feet deep. Hold on to your hats and take a deep breath as you watch these brave locals plunge into the beautiful waters.
7 Brontallo, Switzerland
The destination where the World High Diving Federation Championship is cannot be left off this list. This tiny Italian speaking village is where divers around the world flock to, to try their hand at the lakeside cliffs. The highest cliffs reach over 78 feet tall although there are plenty of smaller ones for less experienced divers. The conditions aren’t always ideal and perhaps the icy mountain waters are part of the pull that sends so many divers here. Water levels should be monitored before diving in as they fluctuate throughout the seasons.
6 Rishikesh, India
The world capital of yoga, home to the great white water rapids of the Ganges River and a breathtaking view of the Himalayas sets the stage for this thrilling place to take a leap. Cliff jumping here takes place during the rafting trips and as an added bonus for those inexperienced jumpers you will be set up with a helmet and lifejacket. Plunging into the murky cold waters of the rushing Ganges River from 40 feet up will be one experience you will never forget. These holy and healing waters are visited by many year after year and provide one of the most scenic places to take the plunge.
5 Red Rocks Park—South Burlington, Vermont
The water is notoriously freezing, the cliffs are sky high reaching up to 80 feet and the danger; well we wouldn’t recommend beginners diving off these cliffs. Red Rocks Park in Vermont is home to some of the most thrilling jumps in the United States but can be quite dangerous. Varying water levels, narrow inlets and water temperature are all factors that must be taken into consideration. Avoid the jumps between narrow rock walls if you are a beginner and explore the other 100 acres of this park. If plunging into icy cold water from 80 feet is on your bucket list; this is the place to do it.
4 Wolfgangsee, Austria
Home to the annual Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition; this lake is clear and calm creating the perfect setting for some epic dives. Many unofficial dive sites are situated around the lake but the most popular is the Falkenstien Cliff Wall in Frberg Bay where a special high board is placed 100 feet above the water. Divers here do spectacular summersaults before splashing into the clear lake where visitors wait to cheer them on as they resurface. One of the most beautiful lakes to dive into, it is worth nothing that the water temperature can be a bit chilly; or as we say ‘refreshing’.
3 Santorini, Greece
There are dozens of places to cliff jump on this picturesque island with its famed whitewashed architecture that runs from the hills to the sea. Kamari Beach with its black pebble sand is a popular place for locals and visitors with cliffs up to 35 feet and deep water that provides a safe jump for amateurs. Or head to Amoudi Bay and find the hidden cove which presents plenty of cliff diving opportunities whether from the rocks or you can even swim out to the island for some higher jumps. A beautiful island that creates thrills for the amateur and the professionals.
2 Horseshoe Lake, Alberta Canada
The waters are a striking blue-green colour, the stunning rugged mountains surround you and the cliffs beckon you to jump here. The southern shore of this u-shaped lake provides ample opportunity for cliff diving with smaller less challenging peaks to begin with. More than likely you will have these cliffs to yourself as this lake has remained private for the most part. If you happen to visit in early spring watch as the locals create diving holes by throwing boulders onto the ice; now that is taking the polar bear plunge to a new level. You won’t find a more scenic place to take the plunge then here in Jasper National Park.
1 Serpent's Lair—Inis Mór, Ireland
This rugged island off the west coast of Ireland was home to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series a few years back where divers faced jumping into the Serpent’s Lair. This natural blowhole is carved out from the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean in a rectangular shape. Diver jump from 85 feet up where it takes them a mere three seconds to reach the water below. The scariest part about this jump; that rectangular blowhole looks extremely small from way up high, surrounded by nothing but rocks and cliff walls. We suggest leaving this dive to the professionals.