Take a leap of faith and try coasteering
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Fitness

6 things to know about coasteering before you jump

From the right gear to the best spots, read this before taking the plunge.
Written by Luke Waterson
5 min readPublished on
Coasteering – climbing up rocks, then jumping off into water – originates from Pembrokeshire, Wales. The term has been widely used since the early 70s. By way of introduction, here are six things to whet your appetite before you don your wetsuit and jump…

1. It’s a bizarre but beautiful adventure…

Coasteering sees you leap, splash and belly flop
Coasteering sees you leap, splash and belly flop
Coasteering definitely falls under the ‘quirky’ category. Have you ever walked to the end of a beach and seen something you want to check out – another beach or a cave – but couldn’t get there because of the sea? Coasteering is the act of reaching these otherwise inaccessible stretches of coastline, such as steep cliffs, rocky ledges, caves and gullies.
It’s also immensely enjoyable. You’re experiencing the coast in an utterly new way, which means even shores you’ve seen every day of your life adopt entirely different dimensions. And you’re doing it by jumping, splashing, belly-flopping and floating. You’ll look as ungainly as one of the puffins you might catch a glimpse of offshore – but at least you’ll be having a lot of fun, too.

2. The ‘sport’ originates in Pembrokeshire, Wales…

Pembrokeshire is where coasteering originated
Pembrokeshire is where coasteering originated
Coasteering is an activity offered in many places around the UK – particularly in regions renowned for their stunning coastline, like Cornwall and Dorset. But the really legendary coasteering is done in the sport’s birthplace – Pembrokeshire.
This southwest corner of Wales is famed for its formidable coastal scenery. No other part of the UK can boast such a diversity of marine landscapes – sandy beaches shoot up into towering limestone cliffs, and glacial valleys channel through to spectacular bays with dramatic rock stacks and sea caves.
Clamp your eyes on Pembrokeshire’s coast and you’ll see why it was here that coasteering found its home. It’s little wonder that Pembrokeshire also plays host to Red Bull Cliff Diving.

3. It’s a team activity…

Help a friend out
Help a friend out
Jumping off cliffs? Floating into sea caves? Anyone could do that by themselves, right? Wrong. It’s highly advised to do coasteering as part of an organised tour with one of the adventure outfits that offer it.
The founders of Pembrokeshire-based activity specialists Preseli Venture were instrumental in pioneering coasteering as an outdoor pursuit and it took them years to establish their tried-and-tested routes. Experience counts, and a newcomer will never really know what’s what. Some of the coast looks harmless enough, but could be dangerous if you are unprepared. Equally, parts may appear daunting, but can easily be climbed – so it’s best to go with a trained guide. Coasteering with others not only makes the experience more fun, but also means there are the numbers to help out should anyone get into difficulty.

 4. You’ll wear a fair deal of gear…

A decent coasteering session takes half a day (four to five hours) and one reason for that is the prep time. You’ll be given a wetsuit, rubber shoes, a life jacket AND a helmet and getting kitted out can take at least thirty minutes. Looking on the sunny side, this means…

5. There is no danger of sinking or catching a chill…

Plunge into Pembrokeshire, where the sport began
Plunge into Pembrokeshire, where the sport began
Wetsuits are designed to let a little water in, but then the body warms that water up, causing it to act as insulation. So despite the often unforgiving temperature of Britain’s coastal waters, you are not going to catch a cold. The combo of wetsuit and life jacket also means those waves will not be getting the better of you – you’ll feel almost unnaturally buoyant, and will find floating on your back the best way of working with the gear you’re wearing. With all that padding, you’ll feel safe from the threat of snagging rocks.

6. The coastline takes on new dimensions…

Once you’re geared up, you’ll be taken to the water’s edge via routes you’d usually never see. A few paces in and the coastline already appears radically altered – you’ll be seeing cliff faces, rock stacks and rock shelves that most people pass by without even knowing they’re there.
The lack of human activity on these often slimy or barnacle-encrusted routes means all kinds of wildlife can thrive. Many guides will give you a rundown of the flora and fauna that can be spotted.
The method used by most guides is to start off slowly and work up to the really hair-raising stuff (even then, there is normally a get-out clause if you have a surge of vertigo).
After the initial chill of the water, the body adapts remarkably fast. Gentle jumps and floats into fissures and caves progress into scrambles around the cliff base until you’re leaping from around ten metres into the water.
And you’re away. Shuffling and sliding along the rocks, belly-flopping and splashing through the waves, having some of the best fun you’ll have had since childhood. It’s one of those things you just have to take the plunge and do!
Nowhere beats the sport’s original home, Pembrokeshire, for trying coasteering. Preseli Venture, Celtic Quest Coasteering and TYF Pembs all offer tours around the Pembrokeshire coastline.
In association with Visit Wales.
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