A simple definition of freediving is: “at least and inch underwater on a breath of air”.

Freediving is about exploring the underwater world holding your breath until resurfacing rather than using a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear. You will get a feeling of true ease and relaxation under water, many people describe the feeling you get while free diving as soft, smooth, quiet, serene & peaceful. 

Freediving and Snorkeling on St. John

With a little bit of practice (about 2 weeks for an average person), you can get down to and back up from 30ft in about 45 seconds. Most of the ocean’s color and animal life resides within 30 feet of the surface, there’s little reason to go deeper.

What do I need to go free diving?

The stuff you need is inexpensive: mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit and weightbelt

How to learn to freedive

Find comfortable mask, fin and snorkel. Start with short dives of 15 seconds and gradually increase (you can start in a pool). You’ll be amazed how quickly your first 15-second dives become 30 seconds, 45 seconds—long enough to dive down to 30 feet. Fore more details check out this freediving website with great instructions from Terry Maas. Or order his book here:

Learn to Freedive Book
**** Excellent Book Technically – bit maudlin
By Robin S. Slomkowski on December 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There is not much writing about free diving physiology or equipment. This book does an excellent job of explaining why you select certain equipment, what happens to you when freediving and what the real dangers are. The book has specialty sections on underwater hocky and mono-fin swimming.
The main complaint is the author tries to put too much excitment at times into his writing and it just turns out sappy, when what you really want is information about what happens to you.
The photography is excellent and it makes a nice table book. The book does have a nice section as a very brief introduction into underwater photography. It explains the basics and reccomends books to learn more.
The book has excellent discussion of technique such as lowering your pulse rate and how to do deep breathing without excessive hyperventelation. And a good explanation for how shallow water blackout occurs.

Prefer to read on your kindle? Try this one

Try the Feediving Manual by Mike McGuire here.

Possible Spots for Freediving on St. John

Start with the normal snorkeling spots close to land. Waterlemon Cay is great and up to 20feet deep. Beware of the current that is offshore!

After that venture into the protected waters of Pillsbury Sound, there are many great spots along the uninhabited Cays to which an experienced captain can take you. Check out Captain Weso from Two Fish Flying or Captain Steve from Rockhoppin’ Adventures (who also kindly provided the photo for this post). Along the south shore of Grass Cay and Mingo Cay, are two enormous reefs. The top of the reef lies in as little as 10 to 20 feet of water. There are also some great walls at Normen, Peter and Dog Islands.

Nor sure? Check out this video!

Disclaimer: You must be physically fit to try freediving. Check with your physician first!

Freediving Record

William Trubridge has just broken the freediving world record without fins with a dive to 88m (288 feet) in 3:30 in Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas. Note: This was without fins! Watch the video and see how he makes slow, powerful strokes with long glide phases in between!

Interview with  French free diver Guillaume Néry (excerpts from Spiegel – full interview here)

SPIEGEL: The best pearl divers reach depths of 45 meters (148 feet). But you manage depths of well over 100 meters without oxygen, and the aid of only weights and fins. It’s a journey into a death zone. If you become disoriented or panic, there is no rescue. How do you prepare yourself?

Néry: I put myself into a relaxed state. It should be roughly like the feeling you have after getting up in the morning, when you are still a bit tired, not entirely awake. Before going down I lie still on the water and try to become part of this element. Just before diving down, I inhale as much air as possible.

SPIEGEL: What happens to you on the way down?

Néry: Within a few meters, the diving reflex sets in — this is an effect we humans share with whales or dolphins. My heart rate drops and the blood flows to my heart and my head, to the most important regions. My body switches into economy mode, so to speak. Beyond 35 meters the pressure is so great that I sink automatically. I stop moving and just drop into the deep — a spectacular sensation.

Freediving compilation

Check out this amazing freediving compilation!

Freediving Equipment

For freediving equipment (longer fins, special masks) check out this great shop website.