Coasteering is movement along the intertidal zone of a rocky coastline on foot or by swimming, without the aid of boats, surf boards or other craft.
Coasteering allows a person to move in the “impact zone” between a body of water and the coast where waves, tides, wind, rocks, cliffs, gullies, and caves come together.
The term was used by John Cleare as the combination of the words "mountaineering" and "coast" and was stolen by Andy Middleton in Wales in 1985, who then made it a business idea.
Although all aspects of coasteering have been informally practised by people for a very long time, if only as a means of access to a cut-off cove beyond a headland, the term appears first to have been used in 1973. In the book Sea Cliff Climbing, John Cleare and Robin Collomb said "A few enthusiasts believe that coasteering will become popular and has a big future".
In 1985, it emerged as a commercially guided recreational activity initially along the cliff coastline of St.Davids in Pembrokeshire in Wales. By the mid 1990s write-ups started appearing in the travel/recreational pages of the newspapers showing that several commercial companies were offering such activity.
The activity then spread to all regions of the UK where there are suitable rocky coasts, including Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, Anglesey and the Highlands and Isles of Scotland.
The advisory organisation for coasteering in the UK is the National Coasteering Charter (NCC).
In the UK the activity is recognized by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority which is a department of the Health and Safety Executive.
Coasteering may include all or some of the following activities:
The rocky cliff coasts of western Britain provide the world's principal location for organised guided coasteering, where it is available from over 100 activity centres. Usually half day or one day trips are offered at a variety of levels catering for beginners, intermediates and advanced. Some trips are especially slanted towards study of the coastal ecology.
Some centres cater for parties of school children.
Coasteering may be included as one of the disciplines for a stage of an adventure race. This is especially common in New Zealand, but is also to be found in Australia, Canada, and the USA.
In 2015 in the UK a document giving safety advice for coasteering providers was published. Also in the UK, the HSE has an information sheet of good practice for the Adventure Activities Industry.
Safety equipment reflects the environment in which the sport is performed and often includes:
See also: Tombstoning § Hazards
One hazard is the impact that occurs with the water surface when jumping into water from height and it was reported that, "If you jump from 20 feet (6 meters) above the water, you'll hit the water at 25 mph (40 kph) -- the impact is strong enough to compress your spine, break bones or give you a concussion."
When diving and flipping into water along the intertidal zone there is an increased risk of receiving an injury including a spinal injury
|Height falling from||Velocity reached at water surface|
|5 feet (1.5 metres)||12 mph (19 kmh)|
|10 feet (3 metres)||17 mph (27 kmh)|
|20 feet (6 metres)||25 mph (40 kmh)|
|50 feet (15 metres)||38 mph (61 kmh)|
|85 feet (26 metres)||53 to 62 mph (85 to 100 kmh)|