Guide to Cliff Jumping Without Getting HurtApril 5, 2019
Cliff diving is one of the most dangerous extreme sports in the world and so it should be taken seriously. Each dive can pose as a threat of injury, or worse, death. Some would think that when cliff diving, the diver is cushioned by the water below-- this is hardly the case. Cliff diving strains the body upon impact. According to Glen Canyon Natural History Association, when jumping from 20 feet (6 meters) above the water, you will hit the water at a speed of 25 mph or 40 kph. That kind of impact is strong enough to compress the spine, break bones or give a concussion. And that is only if the diver enters the water feet first, in a straight, vertical line. Landing horizontally like a "pancake" will feel like hitting concrete. Jumping from a height of 10 feet (3 meters) you will hit the water at a speed of 17 mph or 27 kph. Even cars sustain damage with that amount of impact.
High speeds can make the point of contact feel more like running into a brick wall rather than submerging into a bubble bath. This is where the diving technique becomes very important. Although there is no perfectly safe way to jump off of a cliff, amateur divers are encouraged to pencil dive where the jumper is required to leap feet first off of the cliff while keeping their arms at their side and their legs together, pointing downward. “The idea behind the pencil dive is to keep the diver's body as tight and as vertical as possible.” This position is considered to be safer compared to other diving positions because it limits the point of contact as the diver enters the water, minimizing stress on bones and other body parts.
Aside from taking the height, speed, water depth and body position into account, cliff diving also tests both the person's physical and mental skills. A person needs to be of sound mind and in good physical condition to consider going cliff diving. Furthermore, a person who decides to go cliff diving should be feeling 100% confident in his or her abilities.
Because of the high potential for injury, the World High Diving Federation advises against anyone diving from 65.5 feet (20 meters) or higher unless there are professional rescue scuba divers stationed. Bruises, dislocated joints, broken bones, compressed spine, injured discs, and paralysis are among the injuries that cliff divers may experience.
Cliff Diving Tips
If you’re rearing to try cliff diving, below is a list of tips that can help improve your chances of swimming away unharmed:
- Practice. Before heading to the cliffs, practice the pencil dive from high-dive platforms at a swimming pool. To minimize the surface area that strikes the water and reduce the force of impact, strive to make your body as slim and straight as a pencil. Jump feet first with your arms held tightly to your sides and your feet pressed together and pointed downward.
- Don't dive alone. Find a partner you can practice diving with in case something goes wrong. It will also be a lot more fun.
- Before diving, explore your landing area to check the depth of the water and search for any obstacles. If the landing area is less than 4 meters deep, it is not safe. Also, be aware of the tides in the area. If you are a good swimmer, you can try twisting in order to escape the currents
- Plan your exit. Before you plunge into the water, plan where you'll get out and how you'll get back.
- Wearing a wetsuit while diving will help limit the sting associated with the splash. A wetsuit adds a layer of cushioning between you and the water. Wearing shoes amplify the force of impact because they increase the surface area of the diver at impact. The increased force of impact puts stress on a diver's body and can lead to broken bones or dislocations. Diving barefoot is safer.
- Playa Forti, Curaçao - In Westpunt, you'll be drawn into the electric-blue water views Playa Forti offers as soon as you pull into the Restaurant Forti parking lot which was built on the ruins of an old English fortress. Standing along the edge grants you views as far as Playa Piskado, where you'll see small fishing boats docked in the harbor and the cove-like beach that's known for its abundance of sea turtles and large schools of fish.
- Diving Board Island, Bermuda - Accessible only by water, most locals will jet ski or boat to this cliff jumping spot, dock their ride, and then scramble up natural rock to reach one of four natural and manmade jumping platforms.
- South Point, Hawaii - At the southernmost point of Big Island is the fittingly named South Point in Ka Lae, one of the most scenic cliff jumping spots in the world.
- Negril, Jamaica - Pop by Rick's Cafe, a popular alfresco restaurant that's known for its breathtaking sunsets as much as its tourist-jumping crowd.
- Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas
- Clarence Cove, Bermuda
- Nusa Lembongan, Bali - Don't leave Indonesia without a stop at the Blue Lagoon on this Balinese island. It's a quiet spot for cliff jumping—most tourists just come to snap a photo.
- Laie Point, Hawaii
- Amoudi Bay, Greece
Most cliffs and dive spots are led from breathtaking sceneries and amazing adventure locations. In these kinds of travels, you should always remember to bring your smartphone not just to document your experiences and memories but also to make the most of your trip. However, it is important to keep your devices protected in extreme conditions.
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