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What Is Coasteering?

What is Coasteering?

What exactly is coasteering? It’s a question we are asked on a regular basis. And this is understandable, as a “sport” it’s pretty new and unless you grew up or spent time around the coastline, it’s an alien thing. Its also a unique and extraordinary experience!

Ocean Vertical: The Coasteering Experts

The Ocean Vertical directors and guides have been leading coasteering expeditions and adventures since 2008. They were instrumental in introducing coasteering to East Lothian, Scotland, and we advise for and are part of the National Coasteering Charter – the UK National Body established to promote safe coasteering.

In this blog we will expand on what exactly coasteering is, its incredible potential to educate people about the environment, to bring people together, to challenge and learn more about yourself, and to demystify any fears about jumping.

What is coasteering?

Coasteering is a journey into the tidal impact zone.

This is the marginal inaccessible area that becomes exposed only at low tide – an unexplored marine environment that spends most of its life under the surface of the ocean

When the tidal impact zone drains, a whole new world appears: new islands emerge, rocky gullies and sandy inlets appear, kelp beds and marine life are exposed for a few hours.

Led by our expert guides, coasteering is about entering and exploring this new and sub aqua world by swimming, full submersion, scrambling, climbing, bombing and jumping. It’s a totally new experience in a totally new environment.

What if I’m nervous, is it safe?

Our expert guides have years of experience and are professionally qualified to lead our coasteering sessions. Our mission is for clients to have transformational experiences in nature that are safe, fun and inspirational.

Specific Locations

Our sessions take place in specific locations by Dunbar and North Berwick in East Lothian, Scotland. We know these environments intimately, both above and below the ocean. We have expert knowledge on tides, water depths, and any submerged obstacles.

Our coasteering sessions are for small groups, usually around 6 clients. We also use a high instructor to client ratio, significantly above that recommended in the National Coasteering Charter. This way we can insure a more personal session with each client's level of ability catered for.

We always start with the basic skills and techniques, working as a team and building confidence: how to move across wet rocks and terrain, how to enter the water, shallow dive and bomb. The journey is a progression, as the skill set increases so does the challenge. It's an adventure by choice, and clients always find the level that is right for them.

What do we wear for Coasteering?

We supply everything you need. You meet us at our base at Hedderwick Hill Stables, by Dunbar. Here our team will check you in, answer any questions, and get you kitted up. It's best to wear a swimming costume under the kit we provide.

You will get a robust 5mm limestone based wetsuit. We use these, as they are not petroleum based, are better for the environment and are super warm.

We will fit you with specialist coasteering boots, which give a good grip on the rocks and offer some ankle support.

We issue gloves, not because your hands will be cold, but the barnacles can be pretty rough!

And finally a buoyancy aid so you will float like a cork, and a specialist helmet designed to be worn in salt water.

You are then good to go! We all jump into our vehicle and head to either Dunbar or North Berwick just a few minutes away.

Please keep scrolling and read on Folks!

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Scrambling and climbing as a team, coasteering by Dunbar in East Lothian

Do we move around or stay in one place?

It’s a journey, and we move together along the tidal impact zone. We start by practicing and gaining confidence entering and exiting the water in a safe way. Beyond this we move mostly single file, scrambling, climbing, jumping and swimming through swell zones, newly exposed channels and even submerged sinkholes!

As the journey increases so does the challenge, the highest jumps being towards the end. Again, its adventure by choice, and there is always an option to suit the varying abilities of the group.

We find that as the challenges grow, the group bonds and folks that were strangers an hour ago are now offering support and encouragement to each other. This is a new experience for everyone!

It's great to see friendships unfold and new connections and relationships made.

Do I have to do big jumps when I'm coasteering?

No. Jumping is only part of a coasteering experience. Our instructors will spend focused time with the group on coaching how to jump and how to enter the water safely from height.

This will start with small jumps, just like entering a swimming pool, and move through a progression of heights and terrain. If you are confident, and we are happy with your technique, jumps can go beyond 10 meters: that’s over 30 feet.

There is always a choice – we all have our own Everest – and at no point will jumping be the only option, or the only way forward.

How long does coasteering last?

Our coasteering sessions last approximately 3 hours total, including getting ready, and getting to and from the venue.

Time in the water is never more than 2 hours. While accessible to most folks with some level of fitness, coasteering is still a physical activity in a rugged marine environment. And you will be doing it all in a wetsuit!

What will I learn coasteering?

A new perspective!

You will likely learn more about yourself, in the most wonderful ways: coasteering is a confidence building, new friend making, and life affirming experience.

You will be exposed to a world few people see.  We are privileged to share these experiences with coastal and marine wildlife; we often see dolphins and almost always bob in the water with seals. Puffins and gannets wiz over our heads, and the Bass Rock is a constant wherever we go. Closer up we see sea sponges, sea anemone, urchins and starfish hidden away in the micro world of the intertidal zone.

Life is about new experiences shared with great people. We believe that being out there on the edge, in the raw elements of nature is inherently good for the soul and good for you.

If you would like to experience coasteering you can reach us at:

[email protected]

We are based at the beautiful Hedderwick Hill Stables EH42 1XF, just outside Dunbar and around 40 minutes from Edinburgh. Feel free to drop in for a coffee and adventure chat any time.



Brilliant time coasteering along the Dunbar coastline in East Lothian! Jacob was a great instructor & the whole ethos of Ocean Vertical shines through everything – from the more eco choice of kit, to the friendly staff & welcoming newly opened centre at Hedderwick Hill Stables. Thanks for a great day out. Highly recommend :]

Tilly | Edinburgh

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Adventure Activities Licensing Authority ASI Accredited School - Stand Up Paddle ASI Academy of Surfing Instructors NCC Promoting Safe Coasteering