One might think learning to rock climb would be enough accomplishment for a week in Railay. But if you know me you know that if there is an adventure to be had, I’m going to have it. Unless said adventure involved eating bugs. In that case, I’ll meet you at the after party.
But deep water soloing? There’s something I could get involved in.
I know what you’re thinking — deep water whating? DWS is a form of rock climbing in which no harnesses, ropes, or anchors are used. Instead, it is practiced on sea cliffs backed by deep water, which protects climbers from both intentional jumps and unintentional falls. This is a relatively new sport but is already much buzzed about as a must-try on the famed Southeast Asia backpacker circuit.
And it’s hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for it than Railay.
Our climbing school, Basecamp Tonsai, advertised full day 5-6 hour DWS trips for 700 baht ($25). We met with our group at the shop in the morning, then set off on the boat for a day of adrenaline-shooting fun. When we arrived at the first stop the mute guide (who I would later realize spoke no English whatsoever) handed us a laminated photo of the rock wall with MS-paint style drawings of the different climbing routes layered over it.
Let’s do this thing!
See me jumping?
We spent the morning on that wall, tackling harder climbs for each pass. The feeling off climbing with no harnesses or safety equipment was a pretty big adrenaline rush in itself… and then when you reached the top, it was time to jump! I couldn’t complete the most challenging climbs but I did jump from the highest spot. I loved it!
At lunch time we parked our longtail in a quiet bay where we could snorkel, kayak, or snooze. I chose the latter. One thing I really liked about Basecamp was that they bucked the Southeast Asia Styrofoam trend and went for reusable containers for our lunches. I always make a point to thank companies who do this!
For the afternoon, we headed to a new sea cliff — and this one was much bigger and more intimidating. I decided to relax on the boat and watch a few others go first. There were many strong climbers in the group and a few of them made it to the highest point with ease. I’m horrible at estimation but I would think it was at least 100 feet. We waited on pins and needles for ages for one of them to get the courage to jump, and finally a German girl stood up and flung herself off. She hit the water awkwardly and I knew something was wrong immediately. When she came up for air she was crying out in pain and the guide kayaked over to her and quickly helped her on.
After that I was pretty much done with the deep water soloing.
I did play around on the ropes a bit but once someone gets hurt, that suspension of reality is broken and it was just too much. I emailed with the girl later and she told me while she was in pain for a few days, she did eventually make a full recovery. That aside, I had a great day and I would recommend others to do the same trip, but just remember to be true to their own comfort level.
Have you ever tried Deep Water Soloing? Would you?
I did this while in Railay, what a rush looking down and letting yourself go!
Yeah, I have to admit that rappelling back down was basically my favorite part of rock climbing… so no wonder jumping was my favorite part of this!
You can tell revision isn’t going well when you are only the second person to comment on a just posted blog…
I’ve never heard if this before but it sounds amazing. Not sure how brave I am with throwing myself off things though!
Absolutely love the last photo as well!
Hey, someone has to be the first to comment 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!
I LOVE jumping off of things into water! When I was a kid in Hawaii we used to hike up to waterfalls and do that all the time…it’s so much fun! I did it in Costa Rica and I’ve GOT to try this out in Thailand. It sucks that girl got hurt, glad to hear it wasn’t worse.
Ah, Hawaii! I really wanted to go on the secret commando hike in Maui (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!) but never got a chance. I heard there was a crazy scary jump involved!
I see you jumping, Alex!!! Yeaaaaaaaaaaay!!!
I am in love with the last photo, Alex!
Me too! It’s one of my favorite photos from this current Southeast Asia trip!
I’ve not heard of this either but it does indeed sound interesting although I’m not totally convinced as to how safe it is.
Good to hear that the German girl is better.
Agreed, this is definitely a risky and new sport. Adrenaline junkies only need apply 🙂
I once loved jumping off of things too… until the unfortunate incident at the Pont du Gard where I hit the water awkwardly and my leg swelled to twice the size, I could barely walk,could not wear pants, and every vein in my leg turned black. Fortunately I recovered, well mostly. I found it difficult to jump 10′ off a tiny ledge in Hawaii after so perhaps my psyche never quite healed.
Oh my god! That sounds… awful. I’ve had some good times jumping off things that made people raise some serious eyebrow. Maybe I should quit now while I’m ahead!
First of all I just wanna say that EVERY PICTURE IN THIS POST is jawdropping/gorgeous/adventuresome and I love them very much; the bookends especially make me smile.
DWS looks like fun! I jumped off of a mini-cliff in Jamaica once, nothing nearly as high as that though. Yikes, I’m glad the girl ended up being ok! Always a good idea to watch others do the daring things before testing it out yourself I see..
Thanks Kristen! The scenery alone pretty much made the trip a five star day! Cliff jumping in Jamaica sounds pretty dreamy…
I got chills just reading this post. I can’t decide if I’m dying to try this or should run away very fast. I definitely think I’m going to add Railay to my list for Thailand.
It made me a little nervous too… and I liked that! Good to push the comfort zones sometimes, though of course also to listen to your intuition when it says “too far!”
You’re a brave soldier Alex – you would never catch me jumping like that! Awesome that you tried it but scary about the girl who got hurt…glad she was okay in the end. What was in your lunch? Looks delish!
It was just a basic chicken fried rice… but so delicious! Sigh, I miss Thai food over here.
I have no problem jumping off of things into the water, but getting up there would probably be a problem for me. I have no upper body strength whatsoever… and yes, I know you said you’re supposed to rely on your legs, but I feel like having spaghetti noodle arms wouldn’t help in this endeavor!
Sounds like you made a smart move sitting out the last climb. I am all for pushing one’s boundaries, but if your gut is telling you that something is not safe or well past your abilities, that is worth listening to!
Steph I know how you feel… my legs are pretty strong and my arms fairly week and yet I could NOT figure out how to rely on my bottom half while climbing!
I don’t fancy this kind of extreme sport. You are really brave! I have two best friends whom I went travelling with, they are the ones doing all the extreme sports. I use to be the photographer 😆
This blog is in my bookmark folder now 😉
It’s definitely not for everyone 🙂 Sometimes it is fun to just be a spectator and a photog!
I would totally do it! Even though that experience with a German girl would scare me to death..
Yeah, it was definitely a sobering moment. Glad I at least conquered the morning walls before that went down 🙂
Okay, I definitely wouldn’t have the guts to do this! Jumping from something into waters is one of those things I’m really scared off and have therefore never enjoyed… But I can see why someone who isn’t suffering from the same fear 😉 would love to this! 🙂
Luckily Railay has a lot more to offer than just this! I think rock climbing aside it is still a bucket-list worthy destination 🙂
AHHH This looks amazing! I love the bottom photo, too. This is definitely being added to my list of things to do. I swear some of that cliff looks like it is ready to crumble off, though.
Thanks! You may have noticed that one is currently my Facebook cover photo 🙂 I love a little Bond girl action in my life…
Wow!! I have never heard of that before but it definitely sounds adventurous!!! I’m glad you have your blog so I can experience these things vicariously because I don’t think that’s something I’d ever do!!! haha, I’m more of a “couch” adventurer. But it looks so beautiful!
Nothing wrong with a little vicarious living, Erika 🙂 Happy to share!
THIS. IS. AWESOME.
I’d love to try this sometime! Just for the scenery alone!
Ugh.. when I grow up, I wanna be you Alex.
Hahaha, you are too sweet! I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, though! 🙂
I see you jumping in the picture!!!!
Looks so amazing there. The ocean is such a playground but challenges like deep water solos keep us in check. Kudos for taking the plunge!
Thanks Drew. I love to think of the ocean as one big playground 🙂
That looks a bit scary but also exilirating. I loove the scenery. Ralay seems really stunning!
This looks fun. Not something I would try. Although my Hubby and I are going to give coasteering a go in Devon, in the next couple of months. A little similar but not quite so high or in an exotic location! 🙂
Sounds awesome, Janice! Be brave and good luck! 🙂
Im going there too in a few weeks. Going to karabi for about 2-3 days. Would that be enough to cover deep water soloing? If im planning to do more than 1 location? Also, any specific names that the climbing spots have or you’d recommend?
Cant wait to go there!! 🙂
Hey Alex, unfortunately I don’t have names of any of the climbing walls, but the deep water soloing is done as a half day or full day trip so you’ll definitely be able to fit it in 🙂 Enjoy!
nice site congratulation.
I am from Germnany and I like also to join this wonderful Sport.
Hope to see you soon and hear from you.
Also my youngest daughter like to do it she is 14 years old and she like to have this wonderful exprience.
Hey Michael! I’d check with local tour operators what their policy is on bringing children — there weren’t any on my tour so I’m not sure, but 14 sounds like it wouldn’t be a problem. Good luck and enjoy!
thanks for your reply.
Could you give me please, if possible, the contact data base of your local tour Operator.
I don’t know how I can book this Kind of Sport. Many thanks for your help and God bless you.
Hey Michael! Just Google Basecamp Tonsai. You’ll find them! Enjoy!
Hey Alex! Great blog and you’ve convinced me to go when I get to Ao Nang in November. Do you remember how long the trip took/when you got back? I may be seeking to take a flight after this trip and am wondering if that’s plausible. Great blog, and great pictures!
Sorry Spenser, one of the reasons I got into blogging is I have a terrible memory. If I didn’t write a detail like that down, it’s long forgotten by now, ha. Best of luck and hope you can find the info you need!