World's Best Places to Go Skydiving
If the skies are calling you for the first time, thoroughly research your skydive options. The United States Parachute Association (USPA) has developed a rating system for skydiving instructors and coaches to help standardize the sport and boost safety. So don’t hesitate to ask if the instructors are USPA-rated if you’re skydiving in the US.
The USPA does rate international dive businesses, too, but it is not as widespread, so there may be quality dive centers that are not necessarily USPA-rated. Also, spend some time on dropzone.com, to see what the skydiving community has to say about a center before you launch with them.
If you are ready to take the plunge, here are some of the best-loved skydiving sites, or drop zones, around the globe, each with their own magnificent perspective for your viewing pleasure as you plummet through the atmosphere.
Fox Glacier, New ZealandThere are a bounty of shockingly beautiful drop zones in New Zealand, a ground zero for extreme sports and arguably the top country in the world for skydiving, perhaps the most extreme sport of all. A consistent favorite here is Fox Glacier, an 8-mile-long glacier located in the remote Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. As you free fall, knees in the breeze, marvel at the view of the wild coastline along the Tasman Sea and the snowy rugged peaks of the Southern Alps.
Interlaken, SwitzerlandWith a long history as a hub for adventure sports, Interlaken continues to rank for many divers as one of the most scenic drop zones in Europe. With views of Italy, France, Germany and Austria stretching out past the snow-capped peaks of Jungfrau and the Matterhorn in the Alps, Interlaken skydiving is a thrill for beginners and experienced divers, too. “Barreling down on the Swiss Alps at near terminal velocity speeds is a ride I will never forget, “ says first-time diver, Andrew Price. And the dive operations here run as one would expect of Switzerland — as smoothly as a cuckoo clock.
Dubai, Palm JurmeirahRelative newcomer amid the leading drop zones in the world, Dubai has been catching up, namely by hosting one of the biggest annual international skydive championships, a competition sponsored by The Emirates Aerosport Federation (EAF) and Skydive Dubai. Unlike the other drop zones in this list, Dubai is a city jump. Here you fly over the Palm Jumeirah, the artificial archipelago made of reclaimed land jutting out from the city’s urban marina, where you’ll get a mind-blowing view of the Persian Gulf and the whole of Dubai.
Snohomish, Washington, United StatesAs you fall through the sky above Snohomish, WA, your eyes might pop, but not from the winds that make a falling skydiver’s cheeks and lips flap in the breeze. No, your eyes will pop from the sheer glory of the 360-degree panoramic view that surrounds you, featuring Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker in the Cascades Mountain Range and the green San Juan Islands. From mountain to sea, this drop zone is renowned for being one of the most gorgeous in the US.
North Wollongong Beach, Sydney, AustraliaCaptain Ahab would never have believed one could whale watch from 1,400 feet in the air, but if he’d had the chance, I’m certain he’d have done it. Indeed, the feeling of seeing the world from a bird’s perspective is thrilling, and even more so when that view includes the shoreline of Sydney, Australia, with whales and dolphins frolicking in the deep blue waters. Offering both tandem and solo jumps, the dive centers in this area let you land on North Wollongong Beach itself -- so you could opt for a swim right after touchdown. Now that’s a good day, mate.
Pattaya, ThailandReportedly the only full-time drop zone in Southeast Asia, the skydiving in Thailand’s Nong Kho Reservoir near Pattaya is an adventure traveler’s dream come true. With a hair-raising view of the western coast of Thailand, you fall into lush green fields to find a safe landing with support from this drop zone’s well-trained international staff. Located about one hour south of Bangkok, the dive center here has a shuttle to and from the backpacker haven of Khao San Road, so you can get back to Bangkok, if you must, in time for a celebratory post-dive curry and Thai massage.
So dive in -- the sky is the limit!
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