Cliff Diving: Definitely An Extreme Sport

Diving off 80-foot cliffs into the water is only for skilled cliff divers

A diver jumps off of La Quebrada cliff in Acapulco, Mexico.
Sean Arbabi / Getty Images

If your friend or commander told you to dive off a cliff as a sign of your courage and loyalty, would you? This ultra sport - cliff diving - started, it's believed, when Hawaiian King Kahekili commanded his men to leap off the cliff on the southern end of the island of Lanai, as a test of courage and loyalty to him. They did!

King Kamehameha later refined the jumping into cliff diving competitions at the same site. Today, there are cliff diving competitions around the globe. Red Bull runs one of the most dramatic competitions when skilled cliff divers leap off cliffs or platforms set up to 85-feet above lakes or oceans.

Watching Cliff Diving

Most people would rather watch pro divers than try this risky sport themselves. At La Quebrada Cliffs in Acapulco, Mexico, spectators sit in a restaurant atop the cliff and watch the divers fly over a 148-foot cliff into the water. These divers, who have been part of the evening's entertainment for years, time their entries carefully so they land in the ocean when the waves come in and water is deepest.

The annual Red Bull Cliff Diving competition draws hundreds of spectators to the sites around the world. The dives are acrobatic in design, and watchers hold their collective breath as the competitors take off from picturesque rocks of platforms set high on cliffs.

Do Not Try Cliff Diving Without Proper Training

Cliff divers are highly trained divers. Todd Walton, who has been a part of the cliff-high diving world for some 20 years, stresses the need for a sound technical education and extensive training before taking the first dive off a cliff. He suggests starting by diving in pools and gradually increases the height of one's dives.

Control of both body and mind is essential when cliff diving. Cliff divers who are highly trained know to check out sites carefully before making a dive. This includes, among other things, checking the wave action, the height of the cliff at where one will dive, the wave action, the depth of the water, and the rocks and other obstacles on the side of the cliff and underwater. Checking with locals is highly advised.

To Find Cliff Diving Information and Pictures

If you want to learn more about cliff diving, visit World High Diving Federation. If you want to learn more about the Red Bull Cliff Diving Competitions and see more pictures of the pro divers, visit Red Bull Cliff Diving.