One of us is a afraid of heights, the other is not. One guess who is not.
Hence, one of us decided to jump off a 50-foot cliff at the southern most point of the United States. The other one of us screamed for him.
South Point, Hawai’i Island
South Point is, as it’s name implies, the south point of the big island of Hawai’i. It also happens to be the southernmost point of the United States, which makes it even cooler. Following some basic directions to get there, we joined a handful of other sightseers parked in a small dirt lot to see this famous spot.
One reason South Point is famous is the row of cement platforms down the cliff with metal ladders reaching into the ocean. Why are they there? For the decades of people who have chosen to conquer their fears and the Pacific by jumping into the water below. As a true thrill seeker, this was one thing we’d heard about and really wanted to do. I was a little more hesitant to jump, and wanted to check it out before I decided. Ben was more excited.
Cliff Diving at South Point Hawaii
A small group of travelers were already standing at the platforms. Some taking posed pictures, some admiring the view, other deciding if they were brave enough to jump. Ben immediately picked the jumpers from the crowd and started a conversation psyching each other up to go. Sure enough, that man convinced 4 others to jump before he did!
It was fun watching others get themselves ready and stand at position, then jump as far as they could into the 5-story drop amidst a group of onlookers. It was a pretty gutsy move, considering signs now dot the area warning people not to jump due to recent fatalities and injuries. To not only choose to jump this distance but to ignore warning signs all in front of strangers who’ve decided your moment is their moment and are filming you? Not for me. But it was for Ben.
By the time Ben was set up to jump I was one of the crowd goading him on. It only seemed fair- he’d been there encouraging everyone else! It was actually kind of fun to cat call at him and tease him for hesitating in front of these new friends. Don’t worry, I was teased right back for not being woman enough to jump myself. What can I say? I’m a rule follower (most of the time) and we had to ensure that at least one of us returns to Whit!
Ben’s jump was over in a second, and he played joyfully in the water before making the climb back up on the metal ladder. He was out of sight for most of his climb up due to the steep cliff angle, but we could see the ladder shift and move under his weight. Many reported that climbing back up the ladder was harder than getting the nerve to jump in the first place, because it moves and become slippery. At this point it’s also rusted over in places, and Ben was nervous that it may break at any point.
Once at the top he was greeted with high-fives and congratulations from his fellow jumpers and onlookers. I think he enjoyed the attention and was on an adrenaline high, because he said, “You know, it was so fun I think I’ll go again!” and just ran off the edge a second time! This time I couldn’t control myself. I felt like I was plummeting down, too, and just started screaming. When he emerged a few seconds later I yelled down, “You just gave me a heart attack!” to which everyone around us laughed.
The Best Part
It was exhilarating watching Ben and the others do this incredible thing, but I think my favorite part was how everyone standing around became connected by adventure and empathy. Before anyone started to jump we were all just waiting our turn for a good picture spot, but then we all became one while watching people take their lives into their own hands. It was an incredible shared experience, and we even exchanged e-mail addresses with a few people.
I love how our shared experiences can bring people together!
And as for the cliff dive, I’m glad Ben survived.