Can You Cliff Dive Head First?

You may have made your way up a cliff or hiked up a mountain not to simply enjoy the views you may be getting. Many rock climbers have ulterior motives for their climbing, with many doing so to reach cliffs they can jump off. Normally these won’t be locations that require an extreme amount of climbing or hiking either.

Cliff diving headfirst off a cliff is quite a fun way to enjoy cliff diving. If you are trained well in diving and have done many different cliff dives before, you can easily do it. However, it is not something that should be done if you are still new to cliff diving as it can be quite dangerous if done wrongly and can lead to severe head injuries.

The reasons to go cliff diving can be quite vast, with many people quickly learning that they enjoy the sport and hobby more than some of their other extreme sports. Knowing why going headfirst is important, as you should be prepared long before you jump. Similarly, you should be able to prepare yourself and your friends for the experience.

These are the things we advise you to do before you go cliff diving, usually headfirst into dangerous waters.

Why is it dangerous to go cliff diving headfirst?

There are many reasons that people will give you for not jumping headfirst, some saying you’re not experienced enough, others daring you to do it simply because they think it would look cool. Either way, you need to know why it is so dangerous to dive headfirst when cliff diving, as the two main reasons are not as obvious as you may think.

  • The first reason is created by the very act of cliff diving, with many people forgetting that the higher you are when jumping, the harder the water will be when you eventually hit it. If your hands are not held properly, it will simply mean that when your head hits the water, it will be like hitting a rock with your head, which can cause you to pass out or break your neck instantly. Both are things you do not want to do while jumping into the water.
  • The second not so obvious reason is something that you are warned about a million times when you go cliff diving. When you choose the wrong location, someone hasn’t moved fast enough, or just a very unfortunate fish gets in the way, you may hit something quite hard when you reach the water. If you hit someone or something with your head, it may cause instant death or be unconscious underwater, which usually causes death.

As fun as cliff diving is, it is extremely important to remember that it is on the end of things you can do. Any height above 20 feet becomes extremely risky and dangerous.

Why would you go diving headfirst?

While jumping with your feet first is the tried and trusted method for us amateurs, you may wonder why anyone would want to jump headfirst into the water. The answer is quite simple, really, for most situations where you might be with friends at least, to show off. Diving headfirst looks a lot cleaner and shows the skills that you have.

However, if you want to do something other than simply showing off or reaching the water, diving headfirst does have a purpose. Those who are practiced at diving will do so headfirst to control where they go once they are in the water, usually swimming further to reach something.

Going in headfirst will allow you to reach a much greater depth, which allows you to do a few extra things that you would normally not be able to do. This is part of why you should only dive headfirst if you are comfortable in the water, as it will also mean you need to swim a lot harder and further when going back up for air.

What are the safest ways to go cliff diving?

Now that you have seen why diving headfirst, you may be wondering what the safest ways of diving are. With many people mistakenly thinking there are several ways of diving off a cliff, it can be understood that there is confusion regarding the matter. Some of the most painful injuries have been made by less than smart people who decided they know more than the rest when jumping off things.

So, before we talk about the only two ways that are safe for jumping off a cliff, it needs to be said: the ways that are not safe. Belly flopping, back flipping, front flipping, bombies, and any other aerial maneuver you may think looks cool. Making a mistake while doing these from the side of a pool is nothing like jumping off a cliff; if you hit the water with the flat of your back or on your stomach, it will break bones and damage internal organs.

  • Headfirst: It may seem counterintuitive but jumping headfirst is one of the safer ways of jumping off a cliff. This is because your hands will break the water’s surface tension perfectly and allow the rest of your body to slide in easily and perfectly. If you get the technique down, it becomes almost the perfect way for you to jump into any amount of water. Just keep it below 50 feet.
  • Feet First: The tried, true, and trusted method of jumping off anything into the water. Is feet first. Some adjustments need to be made for higher cliffs, like keeping the feet tight together and the toes pointing down. However, this will safely break the water tension and have you landing safely in the water. If you hit something, like a rock or person, it might still hurt, even cause a broken bone. However, you will survive to maybe dive another day.

What should you do before diving off a cliff?

Now that you have the two techniques down and the reasoning for shaking your head at people that try to do something fancy, you need to know the rest. The many reasons why you should not just go cliff diving from every cliff you see that overhangs some water is impossible to count.

There are always reasons why people aren’t currently diving off some cliffs, it’ll be your job to learn why before diving.

  • Check the depth: You cannot see accurately how deep water is from a cliff. Something that may look deep may only be the rocks changing. This is why you should always go into the water ahead of jumping in to see which area of the pool you are going into is safe. It is often not rocks that catch people diving from cliffs but submerged trees in murky waters.
  • Swim to check water currents: While swimming in the water to check the depths, it is important to check the current. This is less of a problem with dams and lakes. However, if you go to the ocean, you must check no rip currents or whirlpools are being formed by the waves.
  • Jump off lower heights: Before you attempt the highest jump possible at whichever cliff you are jumping from, you should do a few jumps off lower points. This builds confidence, practices your techniques, and means you can check how safe the sport is without breaking your legs on the rocks at the bottom.
  • Ensure there is no one closeby: Now that you have checked the water, you are making your way up the cliff, but you won’t be alone. There might even be another group of people enjoying the waters. You must check to see no one currently under the water when jumping. More people than should be needed have drowned after someone jumped on top of them.
  • Go as a group: It is important beyond belief that you go as a group, not as three drunk buddies, but as at least four very sober friends. Cliff diving can turn instantly from the most fun you will ever have to one of the worst situations you can imagine. A group that discusses and trusts each other will have a lot more fun for a lot longer.
  • Find deeper spots: When you are out checking to see the depths and currents, it is important to find the deepest spot of the pool, lake, ocean that you can find. The deeper the water, the safer it will be for all those involved in the cliff diving experience.


Cliff diving is an absolute adrenaline rush when you are doing it properly, and diving headfirst is a sure-fire way to impress anyone you may want to impress. However, it should only be done if you have complete confidence in your diving ability.

Just remember, a perfectly executed jump with your feet straight is a thousand times more impressive than the dude who tried to impress but caused everyone to go to the emergency room for his stupidity.

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