Cliff diving is a popular activity among tourists but the thrill can come at a price.
In 2015 in the U.S. alone, more than two dozen leaps ended in death.
Nowhere is the cliff-diving craze more popular than at Rick’s Café in Negril, Jamaica. The café sits atop picturesque cliffs and is ranked as one of the top 10 bars in the world. Besides the view, the main attraction is a 35 foot cliff where tourist line up to leap off into the turquoise waters below.
While it may seem fun and exciting, if you don’t land right the sheer impact of leaping from cliffs that high can be like smacking into concrete. Two years ago a tourist reportedly died after jumping off the cliffs at Rick’s Café. But that didn’t seem to dissuade brave vacationers from taking the plunge when INSIDE EDITION recently visited the café.
When asked why he was about to jump one tourist said: “because I’m an idiot.”
Another tourist told IE she was “too stupid to know it’s dangerous.”
During our visit IE witnessed dozens of leapers fling themselves off the cliff. IE investigative producer Charlie McLravy was filming from the water below when one jumper landed so badly she busted open her nose. The incident - all caught on camera – shows the woman swimming back to shore with blood pouring down her face. McLravy tried to help her but she said she was okay.
For McLravy, witnessing jumps like those hits close call to home. He nearly lost his life in 2009 after leaping off a bridge near Yosemite, California while on vacation with his family.
Almost paralyzed, he had to learn to walk again.
“I wish I could stay up there on that ledge and tell people my story and not to jump,” he said. “All it takes is one wrong landing and you're in the hospital, you're paralyzed, or even worse you wind up dead.”
At Rick's Cafe there are signs warning tourists of the dangers. The signs caution vacationers that jumping is at your own risk and only experienced jumpers, divers and swimmers should try it. Lifeguards are also on duty.
But if any daredevil needs a bit of fortification, there is plenty of liquid courage sold along the cliff side and at the bar. IE’s cameras caught one man downing beers before jumping off the cliff.
IE also found drugs being sold on the premises.
One dealer showed IE his stash of marijuana and cocaine. “I've got ecstasy, I’ve got mushrooms, I’ve got heroin, I’ve got opium, I’ve got everything,” he said.
IE’s Lisa Guerrero approached one dealer who was smoking marijuana. “If I took marijuana and jumped off the cliff, I could get hurt right?” she asked him.
“It depends,” he said.
Guerrero then went to speak to the manager of the popular establishment but he wasn't interested in talking.
Management at Rick's Cafe later told IE they have a strict drug-free policy. In a statement to INSIDE EDITION, Rick's Café said:
“Rick’s Cafe hereby denies your specific allegations with respect to its cliff jumping practices. To the contrary, Rick’s Cafe policy in connection therewith is reflected in three clearly posted and visible signage on the property.
“There is a single point of entry at Rick’s Cafe for jumping into or swimming in the water, at which multiple experienced and trained lifeguards are located. In addition, there are multiple security guards located around the perimeter of the Rick’s Cafe property (totaling approximately 2 acres). Rick’s Cafe does not have any control over what its guests might choose to do while watching other guests or professional divers electing to dive despite the posted risks and warnings.
“The waterways below Rick’s Cafe [are] Jamaican-owned. Rick’s Cafe does all that it can to control activities in the waters which negatively affect its patrons.
“Rick’s Cafe has a strict drug-free policy, which it makes every effort to monitor and control.
“Finally, as a general matter, Rick’s Cafe’s staff is trained to help and assist its guests with particular focus on everyone's safety and enjoyment.”