What Is Coasteering, and Where Can I Do It?

May 27, 2014
Outside Magazine

Coasteering: Anyone can do it.   


Coasteering is a combination of rock climbing, swimming, and optional cliff jumping. As you’ve probably guessed from the term, this sport, which got its start in Wales, takes place on a coastline. It has allure for those looking for an adrenaline rush—and some exercise—in a beautiful environment. 

One of the greatest things about coasteering is that almost everybody can do it. Andy Middleton, founder of the TYF Group, which facilitates outdoor adventures in southwest Wales, says that “anyone who’s capable of walking the coast would be OK to coasteer. We introduced our kids to it not long after they’d learned to walk.” His organization has hosted coasteering excursions for people well into their seventies. 

Middleton describes the activity as “pure ocean play,” a pastime from his childhood in St. Davids, a small city in Pembrokeshire, where he, like many other Welsh kids, spent his days playing along the coast. Eventually, Middleton developed proficiency in surfing, swimming, kayaking, and rock climbing. 

But the idea of combining several of these sports into one—coasteering—intersected with many other factors. First, access to the coastline is key, and the county (now, the entire country) has a public footpath tracing it, which makes use of the cliffs legal and easy. Next came the development of better wetsuits and life vests. Finally, the Welsh cliffs are forgiving, allowing for bailouts if necessary. The confluence of these advantages led to the establishment in Wales of coasteering, which has since spread throughout the UK and into other countries. 

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