Terror-inducing, exhilarating and the most fun you can pack in just a few seconds of action, welcome to the world of cliff jumping. When it comes to the transition from fear to adrenaline, nothing quite beats that moment when you look down one last time, commit to the abyss below and leap into space. And then there's the 'best feeling on earth' when you surface from the water.
Choosing your location is key. Safety first means you should always check the launch and landing zone for hazards. But we had something else and less quantifiable in mind when we made this selection – pure awesomeness. Wiith help from world champion cliff diver Orlando Duque, we list the seven best below.
Key pull? Warm water, infinite possibilities
“This probably offers the highest number of options for diving and climbing,” says Duque. “Getting on a long tail boat and just taking off – you’ll find so many different options! Perfect blue-green water – and nice and warm – this is the kind of place where I’m not looking for the highest cliff, but really to enjoy the dives.”
In the pic below, Cyrille Oumedjkane dives from a 26m rock at Wang Long Bay on Phi Phi Don, Krabi, Thailand.
Location: Poco do Diablo in Chapada Diamantina, Brazil
Key pull: Mystique
“Most people travel to Brazil to enjoy the beach,” says Orlando. “I flew to Salvador and drove about four hours inland to find this perfect natural pool with really nice cliffs to dive from. Water is kind of dark, but it adds to the mystique of the place. There are so many other beautiful places around there as well.”
Location: Portovenere, Italy
Key pull? Dramatic cliffs, castles and coastline
“Behind the church has to be my favourite places to dive at this location. My documentary movie 9dives was filmed there and we made sure to find every possible place to dive,” says Orlando.
Besides diving, you can find ancient wonders such as Roman ruins, castles and Byron's Grotto – the spot where the English poet famously swam across the gulf of La Spezia to San Terenzo.
Location: The Kimberley, Australia
Key pull? Remote and beautiful limestone gorges
If you're prepared to perservere for the perfect cliff diving location, then Australia's remote and difficult to negotiate Kimberley is for you. It's home to ancient, steep-sided mountain ranges and limestone gorges. In this image, ex pro cliff diver Joey Zuber makes a perfect jump at the perfect location for divers – high cliffs and deep water.
Key pull? Sun, sangria, deep seas
Let's be honest. When you're out there having a high octane blast, you want to be able to relax properly afterwards. Greece, with its cheap bars, delicious Mediterraean food and plentiful sun offers party time in abundance.
For easy thrills, head to Santorini, which is home to dozens of cliff diving spots around the 10m mark. If you're looking for something more challenging, take your BASE rig and jump from the cliffs above Navagio Beach, Zakynthos.
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Key pull? The jump to test your warrior spirit
“Hawaii has perfect cliffs and year-round weather for diving,” says Orlando. “Lana’i has a really nice spot where King Kahekili used to jump to challenge his warriors.”
In this shot, Orlando effortlessly jumps from a 16m rock at Lana'i Lookout as some local hula girls look on. How does he make it look so easy?
Location: Wolfgangsee, Austria
Key pull? Stunning location, perfect for learning
“This is one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve been to,” says Orlando. “For diving it has great cliffs and also lower cliffs for beginners.” The height ranges from 3m to 27m making it a perfect spot to graduate to greater heights. There's just one downside.
“The water can be a little bit cold but in the summer months – it's refreshing for the nice sunny weather,” adds Orlando.
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