With lush, milky coral beds and heavenly clear waters, Bali is the perfect playground for Freediving. If you’re looking for something to do that will really take you away from the masses, head up to the beautiful north east of Bali, near mount Agung, and get into freediving in the calm waters of Amed and Tulamben. These towns were only developed to welcome holidaymakers in the last half-decade, but it probably won’t be long before they are heaving island havens.
There is a plethora of choices for scubadiving, and even 3 freedive schools along the coast; Fusion, Apneista and Apnea. Apneista is located in a beautiful beach-side cafe slash yoga studio in Amed, just up from Fusion, while Apnea is found in Tulumben – famous for the USS Liberty shipwreck just off its shoreline.
A bit of background on Freediving
Freediving is an evolving sport with a variety of disciplines, that has only recently been recognised at an international level. The first record of depth diving competitions was in 1951, noted at just 35 metres; the sport has progressed consistently since then, with its big break occurring in the 80’s. These days, champions are reaching depths of over 200 metres and proving breath holds in excess of 11 minutes.
Check out this video that managed to get the sport into the public eye, albeit in an invariably cheesy manner.
Freediving in Bali: Apnea Freedive Course
Although Apneista can’t be beaten for location, Apnea is our school of choice. Set at a calm and cosy chill-out spot on the road behind the beach, Apnea offers an unbeatable 2 day, all-rounder introductory course with a focus on practical learning in the ocean.
The first thing the instructors at Apnea do is get the group bonded, quickly followed by a background of the sport including tantalising videos of the pros, showing the lengths the body can push itself to. You will also learn the importance of the simple processes behind freediving, such as the mind frame and breathing techniques. Then, and only then, can you test it out for yourself!
Suited and booted (flippered), you are taken on a mere 5 minute stroll before heading out to a buoy in the ocean, with a weighted line dropping to 12 metres (an unfathomable depth to the inexperienced freediver). You then simply calm yourself, practice the simple breathing techniques taught earlier in the day and have a go… we guarantee you will go further than you ever imagined. Even for novice swimmers, the magnitude of what your body can handle and the speed of progression is simply mind-blowing.
The teachers at Apnea are positively amazing. Julia, who set up the school, gives special attention to each and every person and keeps the class sizes to a small and manageable level – allowing the type of experience where you leave feeling convinced yours was the most important group the school had ever seen. These are the things that really count – taking extra time and effort to ensure that each person has the most memorable and progressive experience they possibly can.
Students are even given homework to improve their breath holds and equalization techniques. On day two, the homework is checked, and the teachers ensure everyone feels comfortable that they have mastered the techniques and are comfortable with the day ahead. More breathing exercises are introduced throughout the second day, and further discussions are had about safety points to ensure the group is as relaxed as possible in the water. And on day two, relaxation is critical – fins and snorkels go back on, and the line drops to 20 metres (hello!).
Once you have the technical basics down pat, you just have to learn to let go. Letting go is where the real pleasure starts. You immerse yourself in the big blue. At about 15 metres, you begin to sink as the air in your lungs compresses and the decent becomes effortless. Upon the ascent, you really glide and feel weightless and elegant without thinking. It has to be one of the most freeing feelings you can ever experience, and you have the luxury of doing it with barely any kit.
After the morning’s lesson, you are rewarded with a ‘fun dive’ at the USS Liberty where you can put your new found skills into action. Julia might even swim out and guide you through the nooks and crannies of the shipwreck and take photos and GoPro footage to commemorate the experience.
Get ready for one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life, and yes… you’ll probably be hooked. Once you’ve ticked this box, you can move on to the Apnea Freediving Masters.
There are a range of courses, including Surf Bigger geared toward surf safety in big waves. Some of them start from as little as $99 USD so there’s really nothing holding you back.
If you like the sound of Freediving in Bali, you might want to check out regular diving in Bali, too.