Freediving is all about the willpower, the strength of mind and the buzz. As the sport doesn’t use breathing equipment, divers must hold their breath for long enough to stay underwater and experience all of its magic. Freediving is a challenge but never short of a thrill, allowing for the truly intimate exploration of marine habitats and kindling a therapeutic feeling of oneness.
And you needn’t be a professional to get a slice of the action. There are freediving clubs all over the UK where amateurs can get trained up in apnea (holding the breath), learn diving techniques and get set to investigate the beautiful depths.If you’re eager to see all that the underwater world has to offer then there’s no better way than freediving.
Freediving in Cornwall, South England
Cornwall is one of the UK’s most popular coastal destinations. While the area is abundant with grassy green cliffs, pretty coves and harbours, there’s also plenty to see underwater. The land juts out into the sea and it’s along this rugged, granite peninsula that reefs, pinnacles and a hub of unspoilt marine life has formed.
In Cornwall, you are spoilt for choice with underwater areas to go freediving. There’s the opportunity to dive amongst the mysterious wrecks, visit the steep underwater drop-off cliffs and explore the gullies and tunnels. These areas are abundant with unique marine species that aren’t found anywhere else in the UK.
Visibility here is excellent and the Gulf Stream flows directly towards the Cornwall peninsula making these waters an ideal temperature for marine life and divers. The strong tides bring rich nutrients to the area, providing the perfect home for corals, anemones and invertebrate life. Organisms carpet the rocks in a flash of colour while shoals of bass, scorpion fish, flatfish and even foreign sharks roam the waters.
Plus, as the area was once home to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, many ships have found their fate in Cornwall. Divers can find the skeletons of armada ships, convoy shipping and liners wrecked and home to distinctive fish species.
Join a local Cornwall freediving club and grab a map to discover everything that there is to explore.
Freediving at Pembrokeshire, Wales
Recognised as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Pembrokeshire coast is home to an array of geological marvels that stretch from the land to the underwater depths. Whether you’re a freediving pro or a keen beginner, this area has dive sites for all levels of experience.
At the sheltered underwater areas along the coast, there are ample reefs, gullies and wrecks to explore. Just like Cornwall, the Gulf Stream flows into these waters, bringing warmth and the perfect conditions for unique marine habitats.
Pembrokeshire has its very own Marine Reserve: a secluded area of rich wildlife that offers an excellent experience for divers. Reefs can be found at a depth of 15m where a selection of stunning organisms roam the waters, including crayfish, pink seafans, sea beards and dead man’s fingers.
For a freediving experience with a difference, visitors can check out Stockholm East, home to a seal colony who happily approach divers. There’s also the famous Wreck of Behar to explore – a fallen WWII ship. As the wreck is at just 10m, visibility is brilliant and many crabs, Pollack and gobies can also be spotted.
Freediving at St, Kilda, Scotland
St Kilda is every professional freediver’s dream location. These almost desolate, jagged islands just off the coast of Scotland are home to copious marine life. The land was created by volcanic explosions, leaving jagged cliffs, sea stacks and some of the most amazing cave dives in Europe. Freediving here is an unforgettable experience.
These waters provide almost crystal clear visibility but as weather conditions are always on the change, currents can be challenging. Divers can take the plunge next to the steep walls blanketed in urchins, porifera and anemones and while above water, enjoy the multitude of sea birds that rest on land. Amongst the reefs, there are also several species of jellyfish and an abundance of colourful, shallow species including lobster.
As the weather can be rather dramatic at St. Kilda, choosing a freediving spot will depend on the current conditions. Yet, Kay’s Cut,Hirta is one of the most popular spots to take a dip. In this area, a large sever in the rock provides two narrow entrances to a magical cave. Inside, divers can explore layers of yellow and green spongers, razorbills and anemones. The Village Bay is also an exciting spot for a night dive with octopus, cuttlefish and flatfish often making an appearance.