What is coasteering?

Do you want to explore Britain’s gorgeous coastline in a totally new way? Are you an intrepid adventurer who loves to get up-close-and-personal with nature? It may be time to start coasteering.

Put simply, coasteering is a multi-faceted activity that involves a number of elements such as wild swimming, exploring caves, low-level traversing, and jumping off cliffs into deep water. One of the main thrills of the sport is to explore areas of coastline that most people would find it difficult to reach. Areas such as rocky ledges, caves, and steep cliffs.

First started in the beautiful Welsh county of Pembrokeshire in the 1990s, coasteering is now one of the fastest-growing adventure sports, attracting scores of nature-lovers and adventurers from across the UK. Amazingly, the number of people participating in coasteering in the country rose from 101,000 in 2015 to 293,000 in 2018, a number that is only set to keep growing throughout the 2020s.

When and where does coasteering take place?

Coasteering takes place in areas of the coast where the ocean meets rocks. These intertidal and littoral zones are changing constantly. Part of the task of coasteering is negotiating which parts of the sea to explore and to work with daily tidal movements. Regular coasteering helps people to become much more knowledgeable about sea states and tides, as well as helping them to become much fitter and appreciative of nature.

The different elements of coasteering

Coasteering encompasses a broad range of activities, with each session featuring new and exciting experiences. Generally, however, you will undertake one or more of the following tasks, depending on your location:

1. Wild swimming

Coasteering allows participants to gain unprecedented access to rocky areas and pieces of land that are usually cut off by cliffs or the sea. To reach these areas, participants are encouraged to take the plunge into the open sea and swim across. Although wild swimming can be exhilarating and feel a little intrepid, it is only ever carried out in safe conditions. Trained coasteering professionals are on hand to prevent any accidents. Those who are not confident in their swimming abilities can even use a buoyancy aid if they prefer. Ultimately, wild swimming represents the foundation of coasteering, so it is usually the task that new participants practise first.

2. Cliff jumping

Most coasteering participants have a love/hate relationship with this activity. On the one hand, it can make you feel truly alive and get the adrenaline pumping through your body. On the other, however, it can be a little scary, particularly for beginners. Fortunately, newbies have nothing to worry about as coasteering helpers will help them to practise their jumping techniques and skills before taking on big jumps.

3. Low-level traversing

This activity is a lot simpler than it sounds. Ultimately, it involves using partially submerged rocks to travel across a small section of deep water. Although it is not easy, participants can improve their skills by practising regularly. If they lose hold of the rocks, the deep water will cushion their fall.

4. Discovering caves

If you go coasteering in areas with sea caves, it is a very good idea to start exploring these amazing natural wonders. Usually, cave entrances are hidden out of sight so many amblers and coastal walkers are unable to view their beauty. If you go coasteering, however, you can spend time discovering new parts of the coastline you may never have noticed before.

5. Making the most of water flow

The natural ebb and flow of the tide are such that coasteering participants can have a ball of a time scrambling across slippery gullies and jumping into natural whirlpools. A coasteering coach will know the patterns of the tide very well and can advise participants about how to make the most of:

• Gullies: Typically hidden from view, gullies are made to be climbed and can provide access to parts of coastline usually untouched by humans.
• Sluices and pour-overs: These are parts of the coastline where the water rises and pushes its way between rocks or spills over a ledge into a pool. Participants can have an excellent time allowing the flow of the water to wash them across a small section of the sea.
• Whirlpools: Although they may sound a little intimidating, the circular motion of whirlpools can provide hours of fun for coasteering participants. Don’t worry – the flow of the water is typically rather gentle.

6. Getting to know the rise and fall of the tide

Tidal patterns play a significant role in the trajectory of a coasteering session, with many participants quickly learning how the rise and fall of the sea affect the coastal landscape. Indeed, the ocean can become more beautiful and dramatic as water starts to swell and spray around the rocks.

How safe is coasteering?

Commercial coasteering sessions have been occurring for decades now and have been proved to carry a relatively low risk of injury. All professional coasteering guides are trained to ensure participant safety and offer helpful guidance about what kind of equipment to use.

Get in touch today

Interested in getting involved in one of the most popular adventure sports of the moment? Get in touch with us today to find out more.