Freediving or skin diving is a good underwater recreational sport for those who are interested in exploring deeper waters beyond what snorkeling allows you to do. It also provides an alternative for those who aren’t so keen on trying scuba diving just yet.
What exactly is freediving?
Freediving is when someone practices various breath-holding techniques when diving into the water, usually wearing only snorkeling gear or goggles.
Instead of using expensive and heavy scuba diving equipment, freediving is exactly what it is called — a way to dive freely into open waters without relying on underwater equipment. The trick here is to practice holding one’s breath for as long as they can, and in doing so, maximizing their time underwater and exploring greater depths of the ocean.
Freediving is also a good starting point for those who are interested in getting a scuba diver’s license later on. Mastering breathholding techniques are also convenient and useful; you need not lug around scuba diving gear all the time to simply dive and explore reefs beyond snorkelling areas.
In freediving, you will also learn different diving techniques, and it will be up to you to see which suits you best. Many beginners have started off with snorkeling and then moved onto freediving, and with the help of many freediving organizations and experienced teachers, they learned to adapt and overcome their fear of the deep ocean waters.
Moreover, freediving teaches people resilience, endurance, and patience. You have to constantly push your boundaries — literally — in order to see how deep you can truly go.
Many are aware that the Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle and is known to be the epicenter of marine life in the world. Naturally, there are many freediving areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that you should probably put on your bucket list. Of course, many beginners start off in Anilao, Batangas, where popular diving resorts like King Solomon and Planet Dive are frequented by freediving groups. Many others flock to the famous Tubbataha Reefs National Park, Apo Island, and Apo Reef Natural Park.
However, since it is the Philippines, we all know the list doesn’t end there. Here are five lesser known diving destinations perfect for snorkeling, freediving beginners, and licensed scuba divers alike.
1. Blue Hole, Tablas Island, Romblon
It’s a surprise that most people have no idea what The Blue Hole is. It is a beautiful diving area where various diving trips are held by diving organizations or even just informal groups made up of diving enthusiasts. You can go on a 3-day, 2-night diving trip inclusive of four dives that will allow you to explore as much as you like.
Diving equipment and snorkelling equipment is also available for those who would like to avail of these. Even if you’re a beginner, there is no reason to be nervous, as a diving instructor will accompany and supervise your group. While the Blue Hole is more of a scuba diving destination, it will prove to be an interesting challenge for the experienced freediver.
A maximum of four divers will be allowed per trip. All diving sites at the Blue Hole are good for freediver beginners, but only licensed scuba divers will be allowed to go 30 meters or deeper. You may also opt to pay for a Diving Course at the Blue Hole should you be interested.
After the diving session, the group will head back to mainland. Accommodation and meals will be at Talisay, a local fishing village.
2. Dive Society, Dauin, Dumaguete
The Dive Society is located at El Dorado Beach Resort in Lipayo, Dauin. It is known for its beautiful, pristine waters, corals, and reef systems. Its thriving marine life will make you want to stay under the water for hours.
There are fishes of a variety of colors, old boats that have turned into areas where fishes linger, and many other reef systems of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It is a difficult scene to describe unless you go there and see it yourself. The best way to do it, of course, is by freediving to your heart’s content.
You can opt to enroll in an Intro Dive course for one day. You can also go for a Dive Day, or go on a Dive Day for two long dives. A special House Reef Single Dive is also a good option for those who want to really explore the reef systems in the area. If you want to go beyond freediving and learn a bit about scuba diving, this is also the place to do it.
Dauin, Negros Oriental
+63 35 404 0070
3. Samal Island, Davao
Davao has plenty of islands and reef systems that are not as known among tourists, which makes it an interesting diving exploration. One of its sites is the Coral Garden, known for its clear waters and thriving reef systems.
4. King Solomon Dive Resort, Anilao, Batangas
Located in the popular diving area of Anilao, Batangas, King Solomon Dive Resort is just one of the many diving resorts in the area. Not only is the King Solomon Dive Resort very accommodating and budget-friendly, but it is also home to a vast number of corals, reefs, and marine life that will probably take you hours to explore and dive in.
It would be best to spend at least two to three days in the resort in order to practice freediving and also get to know the area well enough. In the resort, you will also find a small pool where freedivers can practice first before feeling confident enough to go into the actual water.
Some freediving groups go here often because it is an ideal place for freediver beginners. After a day of freediving lessons both in the pool and in the ocean, simply enjoy the scenery with your group. Spend the night getting to know other freediver enthusiasts over food and drinks, too.
The next day, get ready to freedive again and see more beautiful sites such as this:
The diving site is also ideal for line diving practices, where beginners can test how deep they can go underwater, and how long they can hold their breath. Instructors will watch from the surface to ensure the freediver’s safety. Experienced freedivers also do this regularly in order to keep track of their progress and further improve their diving and breath holding techniques.
+63 998 859 2484
5. Kurma Free Dive, Yoga, and Adventure in Mambajao, Camiguin
Here in Mambajao, Camiguin lies the Kurma Free Dive, Yoga, and Adventure Resort. Its mission is to promote the beauty of Camiguin through tourism and love for nature, serenity, and adventure. Kurma is the best destination in the area if you want to immerse yourself into a welcoming community of freedivers.
There is a freediving course for beginners that covers all the basics of freediving: breath-holding techniques, various diving techniques, and also by teaching your body to relax underwater.
The WSF/Raid Freediver course, on the other hand, is for those who want to push their boundaries a bit more underwater. Here, you will learn to hold your breath longer, swim efficiently, and reach as far as 20 meters deep into the ocean.
Meanwhile, the WSF/Raid Advance Freediver is for those who desire to be certified freedivers. Here, they will teach you to free fall for as deep as 30 meters. The Master Freediver is the ultimate challenge; here, you will practice and learn to freedive for as deep as 40 meters.
Kurma, however, is more than its freediving community. It also boasts of its sanctuary and beautiful accommodation areas. Aside from this, Kurma also offers beginner and advanced yoga classes. The ambiance of the area is the perfect setting for such classes, and many tourists will surely love this program. As of this writing, Kurma is also planning an EcoCultural Adventure activity that aims to promote environmental preservation and conservation.
Evidently, freediving is quickly becoming a favorite activity among locals and tourists alike. The growing number of diving resorts, freediving organizations, and freediving groups are also making the watersport more accessible to the public. Many describe freediving to be a good exercise and a wonderful hobby. Many also consider it to be therapeutic; there is something about being fully immersed in the water that calms the mind.
The beauty you see before you–the many corals, reefs, and marine life–also inspires many not just to enjoy it, but to care about preserving and protecting it. With the threat of climate change and coral bleaching, many are even more determined to campaign for better protection of these diving areas.