Cliff jumping holds deep meaning in the Hawaiian culture, and is now a very popular activity for locals and tourist alike.
Cliff jumping was once known to the ancient Hawaiians as lele kawa (leaping feet-first from a cliff into water, without splashing.) This sport was a favorite pastime of the king of Maui, King Kahekili. He would challenge his warriors to jump off of Black Rock in Kaanapali, known to Hawaiians as Puu Kekaa. What made this challenge so scary, was not the 30 foot jump, but the symbolism of Black Rock. To the ancient Hawaiians, Black Rock was a place where the spirits of the dead would jump into the afterworld. Jumping off was a display to the king of loyalty and courage.
Today, you can’t visit Kaanapali without witnessing daredevils leaping from the face of Black Rock. Every evening at sunset, since 1963, a diver will make the jump with a tiki torch in hand as part of a ceremony put on by the Sheraton Maui.
For those looking for thrills, and, the chance to experience first-hand a chapter of Hawaii’s past, then head to Black Rock, or, Cliff House at Kapalua. But remember – a good serving of caution must be taken at all times.