Warm-Water Coasteering: Our Guide to Taking the Plunge

Marisa Megan

Portugal and Brazil

Exploring the growing popularity of Coasteering, a shore to sea adventure sport.

“There is nothing but you, the birds, the rocks behind you, and the water below you,” explains my guide, looking down a ten meter cliff into the ocean along the wild coastline of the Western Algarve. “Then you jump.” 

The Welsh are credited for inventing coasteering: a unique way to explore undiscovered coastlines that mixes climbing with ocean swimming, cliff jumping, and a bit of spelunking. As a way to explore protected coastal regions, it’s unbeatable. Even better, while being physically challenging, coasteering is accessible to a wider range of people than one might imagine and can help people overcome fears and gain massive amounts of self- confidence.

The once esoteric extreme sport is now spreading across the globe, wowing tourists with this unique way to see the ocean’s hidden wonders. Here are some of the best spots in the world to try out this exhilarating new sport:

Coasteering: Portugal

Along the southern edge of Portugal, on the coastlines of the Costa Vincentina National Park, local Neilson Louzeiro is leading Coasteering expeditions to explore the famed cliffs and grottos of Portugal’s Algarve region.

Louzeiro, who grew up surfing the wild beaches of the Western Algarve, discovered coasteering when he took a lifeguard course in Newquay in 2006. In 2013, he brought the sport home to the shores of the Costa Vincentina, and for the past four years has been wowing tourists with this unique way to see the Algarve’s hidden wonders.

Book a coasteering tour with Louzeiro’s family-run company, Coastline Algarve, between May and September for the best conditions. As with all ocean sports, tours are dependent on weather and swell.

Coasteering: Crete

This exceptional Greek island is as full of mythology as it is unique geology — and on a coasteering trip along the Mediterranean coastline, you’ll get full view of both.

According to Crete Adventures, a UK group who set up shop on this Greek island paradise, it’s not unlikely for guests to find hidden treasures on their rock-side scrambles (we’re talking real deal fossils!)

Coasteering in Crete isn’t just a geology lesson — there are secret lagoons and sea caves to explore, along with traverse rocks and cliff jumps to test your gall. That’s not to mention incredible views that traveling along the untouched coastline will treat you to.

Expect coasteering sessions to last about three hours, with plenty of physical activity. While it’s a fairly accessible activity, even for children as young as eight, you’ll have to be able to swim 25 meters in the ocean on your own to join in.

Coasteering: Corsica

Corsica is an exceptional island paradise, where chic coastal towns are set on a backdrop of limestone cliffs and expansive forests. Nearly half of the island is a national park and the breathtaking beaches range from busy, to remote, to virtually inaccessible.

Unless, of course, you’re coasteering. Canyoning Balagne offers a marine canyoning (aka coasteering) trip in The Revellata, a majestic site where the Corsican mountain range dramatically drops straight into the sea. The views are nothing short of breathtaking. Just getting to see the untouched nature on the island where, according to Henri Matisse, “all is color, all is light,” would be enough.

On a coasteering trip however, you get to dive straight in. You’ll be immersed in the coastal ecosystem while you climb, swim and jump along craggy cliff sides, discovering a secret paradise that few ever set eyes on.

Coasteering: Kas, Turkey

For more off-the-beaten-track travelers, one small Mediterranean coastal town in Turkey might just be the place to get your adrenaline fix.

Coasteering was brought to Kas, Turkey, by K. Gökhan, the founder of Dragoman Diving and Outdoors. The shop, now owned by his daughter Tuna Su, runs excursions throughout the Kaş-Kekova Marine Protected Area. For adventure seekers, this smiley crew will introduce you to their stunning homeland — from the crystalline waters to the graceful marine life that live along the coastline.

So what’s a typical coasteering trip in Turkey like? “Starting at Big Pebble Beach (famous for its stunning turquoise waters), you’ll begin by hopping from boulder to boulder along the coastline, before climbing up and jumping off 50m cliff walls,” describes Dragoman guide, Elif Terzioglu, in an interview with Red Bull. “Then, make your way along the coast to the crystal waters of Limanağzı Bay, where you can swim with huge sea turtles.

Coasteering is easy enough to be accessible to most, but difficult enough to build confidence and help people confront their fears. Understandably, as “jumping from rocks into the ocean or swimming into caves might be scary at first,” points out Terzioglu. However, coasteering guides will adapt the route and obstacles based on the client’s fitness level and preferences, and safety always comes first.

So grab a helmet and get ready to dive into this fun new sport. It’s the perfect way to challenge yourself and a unique chance to explore pristine natural settings on your next waterlogged holiday.