Taking the plunge – Nusa Ceningan

13m high cliff jump on the small island on Nusa Ceningan. (Philip Hill/Phil Hill)

Cliff jump. Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia.

“How far do you have to jump out?”

Slightly nervous now as I am now perched on a concrete plinth looking down over a 13 meter drop into the ocean. I wouldn’t want to clip any rocks on my way down, gesturing to the woman I’d just met 10 minutes ago, now my personal videographer, ready to upload my ‘ultimate fail’ to YouTube at a moments notice.

Like a sadistic master of ceremony, happily counting down the plunge of each person recently befriended, all in the name of photography. I was the only one left to jump, the pressure was on and I could hardly walk away, a personal challenge if anything, when was I ever going to be here again.

As personal challenges go, I was already overcoming a big one. Negotiating the small island roads of Nusa Lembongan on a motorized scooter, the only bike I am normally happy riding has pedals! Having to get to the smaller island of Cenigan was a needs must situation, a high priority on my current shot-list was a cliff jump on its far corner, pottering down the tracks and tight village roads leading to a suspect looking bridge across the estuary between the two islands on a ropy motorbike is not my first choice of transport.

Sofiane, a French traveler taking a brief break in Indonesia from Perth before heading back to Paris for Christmas, I met on the crossing, accompanying me to the jump site. A typical continental European, far superior moped rider than I.

Launching yourself from a cliff ledge goes against every instinct to keep breathing and eating, joking with Harmony, a Melburnian trying to talk herself into taking the leap. Tattooed on the back of her neck are the words ‘Life is Beautiful’ echoed by the stunning view and shimmering turquoise blue sea we had all resigned ourselves to fall into. Nusa Cenigan is striking, relatively untouched by commercialization, ‘like Bali was 20 years ago’ remarks Jenny, a longtime Australian ex-pat and owner of ‘Jenny’s Place’ up the road, she had a ‘been there done that’ attitude, reassuringly overseeing the experience. ‘When we finish here, you guys are welcome to come over for lunch’, an offer I was happy to accept.

I had taken about as many images of falling bodies that were possible, it was my turn. Tentatively handing my money over to the lad, in turn handing back a pen to sign the liability waiver, with a kind of cold efficiency. I sign then make my way over to the two-step platform, no going back, and a couple of faux rocks back and forth, I leapt in.

Bloody hell, I have jumped in water from height before, even diving into it head first from atop a boat. Falling 13 meters is like nothing else; you fall, you are falling, still falling, half way down I actually remember thinking ‘bloody hell, I’m still falling’ just when my heart was in my mouth, crash! I hit the water, straight under, arms stinging from the contact, water not cold, nice actually. I’d done it, breaking the surface with a wide smile I swim back over to the ladder and climb back to the top, buzzing, ecstatic. Off to ‘Jenny’s place for a post jump feed and celebratory drink.

…Oh, then an Australian came along and back flipped from it!

View more from Indonesia:

Indonesia gallery | Bali | Indonesia: Instagram | National Geographic Traveler feature |  Chasing Agung

If you would like to commission this or any of my work, please email me at: philhill@philhillphotography.com


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13m high cliff jump on the small island on Nusa Ceningan. (Philip Hill/Phil Hill)

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