9 Skydiving Adventures: Thrills on High

Skydiving over Interlaken, Switzerland. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Skydiving has always attracted thrill-seekers and daredevils. Whether you're interested in overcoming a fear of heights or feeding an adrenaline-sports addiction, skydiving won't disappoint. Below are areas and outfitters who offer some of the best skydiving in the world. As usual, before you make the leap (er, fall) be sure to inquire about instructor experience and certification as well as about company safety records.
Photo Caption: Skydiving over Interlaken, Switzerland. Photo by Cait/Frommers.com Community.
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Gruyeres, Switzerland. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Not only is the Gruyere region in southwest Switzerland home to some of the world's most delicious cheeses, but it's also the launch-point for some of the world's most daring adrenaline junkies. It's hard to imagine more stunning scenery than the Swiss Alps. Good thing, because you'll be hurtling toward them after jumping out of a plane at 4,000m (12,800 ft.). The Ecole de parachutisme de Château-d'Oex keeps things interesting for its divers by moving around from location to location within the area on various weekends.

More Information: tel. 41/22-366-18-70; www.epco.aero.

Photo Caption: Gruyeres, Switzerland. Photo by sixupgaw/Frommers.com Community.
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San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Only 25 miles from downtown San Diego, Sky-dive San Diego offers a unique diving experience. Where else can you take off and land in the same spot? Because they're located at a dedicated skydiving airport, Skydive San Diego allows your friends, family, and others you want to impress to watch as you hurl yourself from sky high and float gracefully back to earth. Launch a tandem jump or an AFF Solo jump, depending on your level of experience (and nerves). The views are amazing. From 13,000 feet (3,900m) you can see downtown San Diego, Coronado Island, and the San Ysidro mountain range.

More Information: tel. 800/FREE-FALL in California or 619/216-8416; www.skydivesandiego.com.

Photo Caption: San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego. Photo by Rwest/Frommers.com Community.
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View from Makapu'u Lighthouse in Oahu. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Although it offers only tandem jumps (no soloing here), it's hard to beat the setting for skydiving over the island of Oahu. Known for its amazing surfing and the big city of Honolulu, the most urban of the Hawaiian isles is also spectacular from 14,000 feet (4,267m) in the air. From your sky-high vantage point, you can see the entire island, including Pearl Harbor, the North Shore, and all the way to Diamond Head. The experienced staff at Pacific Skydiving Center will outfit you and excite you for your amazing island adrenaline-inducing dive.

More Information: tel. 808/637-7472www.pacificskydivinghawaii.com.

Photo Caption: View from Makapu'u Lighthouse in Oahu. Photo by joina kay/Frommers.com Community.
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The beautiful beaches of Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Thrill-seeking newcomers can go for tandem jumps. Those with higher aspirations (no pun intended) can participate in a nine-stage AFF qualification course. And if that's not good enough for you, Abel Tasman offers AFF-qualified divers the opportunity to work toward their New Zealand Parachute Industry Association license, which allows divers to solo anywhere in the world. All jumps here afford divers brilliant views of New Zealand's Southern Alps, Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks, and endless miles of beaches and ocean.

More Information: tel. 64/3-528-4091; www.skydive.co.nz.

Photo Caption: The beautiful beaches of Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand. Photo by mesabree/Frommers.com Community.
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Interlaken, Switzerland. Photo by Frommers.com Community
A city known for adventure opportunity, Interlaken also has arguably the most beautiful drop zone in Europe. Your jump will usually be from approximately 3,900 to 4,200m (13,000-14,000 ft.) and the trip up is almost as wonderful as the one down. From that height you can see multiple countries, including Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and France, and view some of the world's great mountains, such as the Jungfrau, Eiger (see the Eiger Jump ), and the Matterhorn.

More Information: Skydive Interlaken (tel. 41/33-222-5848; www.skydiveinterlaken.ch). Skydive Switzerland (tel. 41/33-821-00-11; www.skydiveswitzerland.com).

Photo Caption: Interlaken, Switzerland. Photo by Phatage/Frommers.com Community.
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Skydiving in Gardiner, New York. Photo by Igor
Though the skyscrapers of Manhattan offer some pretty impressive views, the vistas from 13,500 feet (4,050m) up in the air in upstate Gardner, New York, are amazing. Located next to the Shawangunk Mountains, Blue Sky Ranch Skydiving offers Tandem jumps and training for AFF dives. When the weather gets cold, Skydive The Ranch operates in cooperation with a sister company in Florida.

More Information: tel. 845/255-4033; www.skydivetheranch.com.

Photo Caption: Skydiving in Gardiner, New York.
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Pagat Cove, Guam. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Anybody can travel halfway around the world to a Pacific isle and call herself an adventurer. But the adrenaline adventurer takes it a step further and checks out the stunning beauty of the West Pacific from 14,000 feet (4,200m) in the air. Priced on a graduated scale based on the altitude from which you're jumping, Skydive Guam offers "unparalleled views" of the island and surrounding blue waters. For a few extra bucks, they'll throw in photos and a DVD of your dive so you can earn your bragging rights back home.

More Information: tel. 671/475-5555; www.skydiveguam.com.

Photo Caption: Pagat Cove, Guam. Photo by zandradu/Frommers.com Community.
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Seville, Spain. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Home to world-class paella and gorgeous Moorish architecture, the Andalucia region of Spain is hard to beat in terms of tourism bang for your buck. But why not be a tourist who takes in the sights from a different point of view? Say, from 4,500m (15,000 ft.)? Skydive Spain offers all manner of diving opportunities, from one-time tandem jumps (sometimes you just want to be able to say you've done something!) to AFF certification and solo parachuting.

More Information: tel. 34/687-726-303; www.skydivespain.com.

Photo Caption: Seville, Spain. Photo by Ceazar Namoca/Frommers.com Community.
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The upper Molalla River in Molalla, Oregon. Photo by Mdroses
In Montalla, just south of Portland, Oregon, in the scenic northwest United States, Skydive Oregon takes flight from a dedicated private skydive airport. From up high you can jump tandem or solo (AFF certified divers only), as well as with a group. Imagine you and your friends (up to 23 can go at one time) careening toward earth from 13,000 feet (3,900m) with mile-wide smiles on your faces. For pals too chicken to join you, they can stay on the ground in a designated spectator area and photograph your antics for posterity. Group discounts are available.

More Information: tel. 800/934-5867 or 503/829-3483; www.skydiveoregon.com.

Photo Caption: The upper Molalla River in Molalla, Oregon. Photo by Mdroses/Frommers.com Community.
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