Free soloing is a controversial subject in the world of rock climbing, with a lot of great arguments to be made for and against it. It’s dangerous, sure, but a lot of climbers point out that the dangers can be substantially lowered by climbing over water. It provides a (mostly) safer place to fall in the event you lose your grip while also providing quite an adrenaline rush. If you’re thinking of giving it a try here are some of the best spots in the world for deep water soloing.
The birthplace of deep-water soloing, or psicobloc as the locals call it, is still seen as one of the premier DWS sites in the world. First established in the 1970s, Majorca houses some of the most famous climbs around and is a favorite of veteran climber Chris Sharma. Porto Cristo, Cala Marcal, and Cova del Diablo remain some of the most beloved crags in all of climbing and hundreds of folks flock here every year to test their skills and nerve. Majorca is loaded with prime climbing spots and hosts many competitions throughout the year.
Another popular DWS spot, Railay has one thing that puts all other crags to shame: utterly breathtaking scenery. People spend as much time sitting and staring at the views here as they do climbing. The waters are warm year-round and there are dozens of climbs of varying difficulty to choose from. It’s become something of a tourist trap with many locals offering kayak trips to the crags even, so you might have to fight for a spot, but it’s definitely one of the most pristine climbing areas in all the world.
The coastline of Azores in Portugal is dotted with prime climbing crags made up of volcanic residue. The sea walls here are popular among cliff divers, but it’s also an increasingly prevalent draw for those who love to climb without a rope. The horseshoe-shaped bay is just one of many reasons outdoor enthusiasts flock to the area; there are ample opportunities for climbing, hiking, biking, and water sports all around. You’ll have to rent a raft to reach most of the climbs here and pay close attention to the tides, but during the summer months, it’s a great destination for DWS.
Honestly, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to finding great spots around Hawaii for deep-water soloing. Most of the islands have at least one outcropping suitable for climbing, but Maui might just have the best. The lava rocks off the coast around Ka’anapali at Black Rock are visited often by professional climbers, but there are also great options in the area for those new to the sport. The waters are pretty clear so you know exactly what you might be falling into and they’re almost always deep enough for you to safely climb.
On the coast of Pembroke lies what is often described as one of the most frightening DWS climbs in the world, affectionately called The Abyss. It towers 50 meters above the water and has some fairly sketchy tides that often slink away to reveal hordes of sharp rocks ready to crack your skull open if you’re daring enough to climb above them. The routes here average around S3 and it’s definitely not ideal for newbies. The only downside to this epic nightmare of a climb is that being in the UK, the weather is only good enough to let you climb it for about three months out of the year.