Cliff Diving at Kaanapali

Cliff Diving at Kaanapali


Who remembers Tarzan diving into treacherous waters, thinking he wouldn’t survive, then holding our breath until he triumphally raises his fist as he emerges from the boiling surf? Well today we meet real life cliff divers who face many dangers in their quest to show respect for their ancestors.

Lou, Ryan, Amanda and myself travel to the famous Cliff Dive Bar and Grill at the Sheraton Resort and Spa at Kaanapali to capture the majestic divers as they continue their ancient tradition of Lele Kawa as it is traditionally known.

The Sheraton was the first hotel built in 1963 at this famous stretch of pristine white sand beach. We love coming here to put our feet into the sand and ground ourselves and let the stress of our bodies melt away. The water is crystal clear, lapping at the sand as we stroll along the picturesque stretch of beach heaven.

Looking after our mind and body is paramount in well-being, destressing our cluttered mind from everyday problems makes for a healthy outlook on life, taking time to smell the roses or in our case the clean ocean air makes us realize how much need to be in Mother Nature to enrich our lives. 

As sunset slowly arises, we grab some front row seats at the famous Bar, order a few refreshing drinks and some fiery wings and sit back and watch the Diving unfold. Ryan and Amanda have brought along their dive gear so they can be close to the divers as they pierce the ocean. Ryan is a fantastic photographer and is intent on taking some killer shots of the evening’s proceedings.

With the big crowd waiting with anticipation the diver makes his way to the beach, burning torch in hand, then turns and runs barefooted up to the BlackRock lava flow that takes him to the crest of the cliff. He then lights the other torches as he makes his way along a narrow path to the edge of the cliff some 35 feet overlooking the shimmering seas.

A big conch shell is at the top of the cliff, he raises it and blows it with experienced ease, as the mournful sound echoes around the cliffs we are transported back to his ancestor’s past. He blows the conch shell in four directions paying tribute to Mother Earth for everything She gives us. With the crowd silent, mesmerised by the solemn atmosphere the diver takes off his Lei, tossing into the water as an offering to the Gods, he then makes way to the highest point of the cliff.

Gentle breezes play with the burning torches as the Sun is nearly captured by the horizon on its spiritual journey around the globe, as the diver prepares himself for his leap of faith. With arms high above his head, his face a fixture of concentration he looks above at his ancestors and with a respectful bow he launches himself into the twilight.

The lava flow has many dangers hidden just below the high cliffs, so the diver has to make sure he dives far away from the jagged rocks lurking below. Our diver is far too experienced to fall short as he gracefully glides into the waiting ocean, splitting the water with a 10 out of 10 dive. He surfaces to an appreciative crowd cheering and clapping at his bravery and skill.

The Sun has now disappeared, music starts up behind us as the band serenades the milling crowd, Ryan and Amanda appear out of the ocean with beaming smiles and tales of unbelievable camera shots. We order more drinks and wings for our famished photographers as we take in the peaceful surroundings and reflect on what a resounding time had by all. 


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