We cannot breathe in it, walk on it or live in it, yet some of us feel at home in it. A handful of daredevils have managed to beat the odds, turning water into their playground, constantly seeking new challenges in its depths. Do you have what it takes to join them?
From the outside, taking a leap of faith and plunging into the restless sea may seem dangerous and reckless. But in truth, we are all responsible for our own actions. It is human nature to want more, and there are some water-based adventure-packed activities out there that will truly put our limits to the test. These extreme water sports explore nature in a unique way. An intense adrenaline rush is guaranteed, but at the same time, they demand that we find peace of mind, balance and coordination in order to be successful.
6. White Water Rafting
Often considered a recreational activity, riding the raging rapids of a river is no walk in the park. After all, it is called white water rafting because of the whiteness of the agitated water. The good news is that rafting can be as extreme as you like, even non-extreme if you choose. On a guided white water rafting adventure, the instructor does all the hard work. However, the participants (usually eight in one boat) must have strong arms to paddle and physical endurance to finish the ride (one hour of rafting burns over 300 calories). It should go without saying that you must be a good swimmer too.
Rapids are graded from one to six, one being the easiest and six the hardest. Class I rapids are usually flat, without waves or obstructions, perfect for beginners. Class II rapids can have medium-size waves and require some maneuvering around rocks. Class IV and V rapids are reserved for experts, as they have powerful waves, cross-currents, turbulent rapids and treacherous obstacles. Class VI rapids are considered close to impossible to navigate and are therefore the greatest challenge among adrenaline junkies.
5. Cave Diving
Cave diving - Photo by John Kotsifas
Open water diving and cave diving are two very different branches of diving. Exploring the flooded depths of the Earth, the latter is as enchanting as it is hazardous. With so many things that can go wrong, cave diving is considered one of the most dangerous forms of exploration. At any given moment, your lights can go out, you might run out of air, get lost or trapped in the subterranean labyrinth.
Caving is the activity of exploring caves, while cave diving is the adventure of exploring underwater caves. Great rewards await those who dare enter this world – a hidden paradise that has evolved in a different direction, life thriving in the absence of light, strange shapes and untouched narrow corridors. But the deeper you go, the harder it will be to get back. Just like climbing a tall mountain, getting to the summit is only half the journey.
PHOTOGRAPH BY WOLFGANG PÖLZER, ALAMY
Cave diving is a little-known adventure activity that demands years of training and experience. Adequate preparation, a guideline, enough air, lights and not going too deep are the first five rules of cave diving. Never go beyond your level of training, as those who do often do not make it out.
4. Deep Water Solo
Deep water soloing in Mallorca - Photo credit Chris Sharma
Psicobloc, a.k.a. Deep Water Solo, is considered “the purest form of rock climbing.” There’s no safety equipment, no gear, it’s only you, a pair of climbing shoes, a chalk bag, the breeze and the water beneath. Often times, you have to swim or take a boat to the isolated deep water soloing spot.
Deep water soloing in Tyulenovo, Bulgaria - Photo by Octavia Drughi
Free soloing is the most controversial topic of discussion in the rock climbing community. Some say climbing without ropes is downright suicidal, but the people who attempt these climbs are well aware of the risks involved. One way to make free soloing safer is by climbing above water. Deep water soloing (DWS) can be practiced just anywhere you can find a solid rock with some nice climbing lines above water that is deep enough and without any obstacles on the bottom that might cause injury. This can be a cliff by the lake, sea or ocean; the water becomes your crash pad, cushioning your fall.
Deep water soloing in Tyulenovo, Bulgaria - Photo by Octavia Drughi
Mallorca, the birthplace of deep water soloing, is considered Europe’s finest venue. Railay in Thailand, the Azores Island in Portugal, the Hawaiian island of Maui, Pembroke in the UK and Olympos in Turkey are among the most famous DWS destinations.
3. Big Wave Surfing
Surfing the Pipeline, Oahu - Photo by Alan Grinberg
Any wave that’s over 20 ft (6.2 m) tall is considered to be in the big wave category, and experienced surfers are just crazy about them. The world’s most famous waves often exceed 50 ft (15 m) and can even reach 80 ft (24 m). Sounds fun, but there are so many things that can spell disaster.
First of all, you must understand that the ocean is in charge and it is unpredictable. The impact with a big wave is similar to getting hit by a truck. Massive wipeouts can send surfers up to 50 ft (15 m) below the surface of the water. It’s easy to get disoriented, hit the reef beneath, panic, even lose your conscience. When it comes to big wave surfing, you’d be right to be afraid. How else could you possibly assess the risks?
Surfing Nazare, Portugal - Photo by Luis Ascenso
Where there’s a huge swell, there’s bound to be a monstrous wave that pro surfers live to tame. Whether you dream of riding them yourself or you simply wish to watch pros trying their hand at them, here are the world’s biggest and most treacherous waves:
- Cortes Bank, off the coast of California
- Mavericks, California
- Teahupo’o, Tahiti
- Dungeons, Cape Town, South Africa
- Nazaré, Portugal
- Jaws, Maui, Hawaii
- Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii
- The Right, Western Australia
- Shipsterns, Tasmania, Australia
- Pedra Branca, Tasmania, Australia
- Punta de Lobos, Chile
- Puerto Escondido, Mexico
2. Cliff Diving
I remember the first time I stood on the ledge. The sea was calm, the sky was clear, it was the perfect backdrop. Yet, I stood there motionless, staring deep into the water. It was hypnotizing. My heart was pounding, questions were rolling through my head and I just couldn’t take that one step forward. I kept stopping on the edge. My heart was yearning to jump but my mind was saying “Hell no!” It took me a while to reconcile the two. When I did, I finally let go.
Cliff diving - Photo credit Pinterest
Cliff diving, an adventure sport with roots that can be traced back to 18th century Hawaii, entered the spotlight thanks to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, an annual competition established in 2009. It does not require any equipment, only mental strength, excellent fitness level and some acrobatic skills.
Diving from the Stari Most Bridge, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Photo by Lassi Kurkijärvi
Cliff jumping can be practiced just about anywhere you can find a ledge over a body of water that is deep enough to support a big plunge and without any hidden obstacles on the bottom. Perhaps the most recognizable cliff jumping location is Acapulco, a popular spot ever since the 1960s. Other spectacular cliff diving spots are the Azores islands in Portugal, which lure cliff divers with their imposing monoliths rising straight out of the North Atlantic. The Stari Most Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Inis Mor in Ireland have become famous stops on the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. And of course, we cannot talk about cliff diving without mentioning Hawaii, the birthplace of cliff diving.
Freediving - Photo credit discoveryourdepths.com
It is considered the world’s most dangerous sport after base-jumping. Holding your breath and diving as deep as you can sounds pretty insane. Indeed, freediving has claimed many lives, sometimes even professional divers do not return to the surface.
For those who practice it, freediving can hardly be described in words. There’s a sense of euphoria down there, a natural high. There’s an explanation for it too – after 200-230 ft (60-70 m), nitrogen gasses begin to build up in your brain. You become calmer and more relaxed.
Freediving is any dive you do in a single breath in calm waters, either as a recreational activity or in a competition. Apparently, it sounds simple – take a huge breath, dive in and go as deep as you can. The reality is that you also have to come up. Before you run out of air, that is. When ascending and nearing the surface, many divers black out because their bodies hardly have any time to readjust to the pressure.
The above-mentioned adventure sports are considered dangerous because there are so many things that can go wrong, which is why training and experience are imperative and can help save lives. Even then, there’s always the element of surprise. Although hardcore and adrenaline pumping, they require absolute peace and calmness. Negative thoughts and recklessness have no business being there. It is only when pushed to the very limit that these adventure-packed water sports truly become risky.
Do you have a taste for adrenaline? Do you feel more comfortable in the water than you do on land? Then go to BookSurfCamps.com and choose a big wave surfing camp that will put your stamina and mental endurance to the test.