As any adventure sport junkie can attest, cliff diving is one of the most thrilling activities around. While there’s plenty to be said for training, skill, and experience, cliff divers always leave at least a little bit of their safety up to chance—and that makes cliff diving the perfect sport for those who thrive on adrenaline. If you love to get your heart pumping, look no further than these world-renowned cliff diving destinations.
Red Rocks Park (South Burlington, Vermont)
Red Rocks’ cliffs measure up to 76 feet, which has earned them the appropriate nickname of “The Seventy.” The cliff faces reside in a 100-acre park and tower over Lake Champlain—so if the jump doesn’t shock you, Champlain’s frigid waters most certainly will. Many divers consider The Seventy to be particularly dangerous because protruding rock faces leave little room for error. That said, there is a shorter, 40-foot ledge that’s slightly more welcoming to amateur divers.
Kahekili’s Leap (Kaunolu, Lanai, Hawaii)
The cliffs here are renowned as the birthplace of cliff diving, and they remain one of the most popular destinations in the world for experienced cliff divers. The main attraction is an 80-foot cliff, from which divers make the jump into a shallow pool that tops out at only 18 feet. Because of the height of the cliff relative to the shallowness of the water, diving experience is a must for anyone attempting this leap.
Possum Kingdom Lake (Fort Worth, Texas)
Possum Kingdom Lake rose to cliff-diving fame as the site of the 2014 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Cliffs tower 20- to 88-feet above the lake, which spans more than 16,000 acres. In addition to being a hot spot for cliff divers, the lake is also a popular locale for water sports and summer barbecues—so once you’ve had your fill of thrill-seeking, unwind with some sunbathing and a cookout.
Serpent’s Lair (Inis Mor, Ireland)
Cliff diving might seem like an odd activity for the sparsely populated, windswept Aran Islands. But experienced divers have long been entranced by “Serpent’s Lair”—a 92-foot leap into a narrow blowhole or a shoreline pool. In fact, Inis Mor has been the site of many a cliff diving championship. Not surprisingly, the nail-biting leap is recommended for experienced divers only.
Lake Vouliagmeni (Athens, Greece)
Right outside of Athens lies the enchanting Lake Vouliagmeni, which is known to locals as “Sunken Lake”. The lake is unusual in that it’s connected to the Mediterranean Sea by a series of underwater caves; perhaps because of this, legend has it that the lake is haunted by mythical creatures. The mysterious body of water also maintains a warm 75°F temperature throughout the year, so this is the place to dive if you’re not a fan of freezing water.
Horseshoe Lake (Alberta, Canada)
Beautiful Jasper National Park is home to Horseshoe Lake, which is nestled beneath the majestic Canadian Rockies. The lake (so named because of its “U” shape) is a popular cliff-diving spot among locals in summer. Ledges range from 25 to 80 feet high, and the lake’s waters are very deep, making this locale more appropriate for amateur divers than any of the other destinations on this list.
It should go without saying, but cliff diving is a dangerous sport. None of these dives should be attempted without the proper level of experience, a solid understanding of the locale, and supervision. The good news? Even if you’re not ready to attempt any of these dives, you can still go marvel at the people who do.