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A beginners guide to Cornish Coasteering

Think about extreme coastal sports and you might imagine veteran surfers throwing themselves into thirty foot waves or teenagers ‘tombstoning’ from the nearest piece of jagged headland. But there’s another way of experiencing the thrilling power of Cornwall’s seas. One that isn’t quite so reckless but is still guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping.

Coasteering is an increasingly popular activity that combines practically every dangerous seaside adventure your mum would never let you take part in. Now, under expert supervision, you could be hopping across rocks, exploring secret caves, swimming through lagoons, climbing cliffs and of course jumping off them again.

It’s been around for a while – the expression was first coined in the 1970s as a conflation of ‘coast’ and ‘mountaineering.’ Since then the activity has developed to extract every ounce of excitement from the world’s finest intertidal zones (or seashores).

Cliff jumping

This is what Coasteering is most known for – flinging yourself off a rocky platform into dazzling Cornish seas. Guides will coach you in safe techniques for jumping and landing and will also allow you to work up to the biggest jumps. And if it’s not for you, no worries, just float away and enjoy the show.

Rock Hopping

Many of us still have the scars on our legs to prove just how hazardous negotiating rocks slick with seaweed can be. But the best guides can give you the skills to hop across even the slippiest of boulders.


If you’re not a seasoned rock climber don’t fear, the ascents in coasteering are less about vertical climbing that steady sideways traversing. And if the going gets too tough you can always ‘bail out’ as the sea isn’t too far below.

In Scotland, Wales and Cornwall, coasteering not only offers cheap thrills, it’s a great way to get to know more about the natural environment. The best tour guides will be as knowledgeable about marine geology and fascinating sea life as they are keen to see you leap off a cliff.

Swell Riding

A well-known surfing term which refers to catching the peak of a wave and ‘riding’ it until it breaks. You can experience some of the best swells without the need for a board, and your guides can teach you how to best move your body to maximise the ride.

There are now dozens of fully accredited operators running coasteering days in Cornwall, offering experiences for adults and families, whatever your fitness or ability. Every inch of our 700 kilometre coast has been explored to find the biggest swells, the best jumping spots and the most tantalising caves.

Come back soon because we’ll be publishing a full guide to the best coasteering companies and locations next month.

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