Freediving is all about the will, the determination and the thrill. Forget breathing equipment because you’re relying on your sheer ability to hold your breath and stay down deep for long enough to see all of the magical sights. The sport is challenging and exhilarating, bringing divers within superb proximity of marine habitats and stimulating a therapeutic feeling of oneness.
Plus, you don’t need to be a professional to have a pop. The sport is open to anyone eager to see the underwater world at first-hand. There are Freediving clubs to join all over the UK where you can learn apnea, get trained up and experience exactly what it’s like to spend time amongst those beautiful depths.
Freediving at Cornwall, South England
While Cornwall is one of the UK’s most popular tourist areas, there’s also plenty to see underwater. Abundant with secluded beaches and unspoilt marine life, the rugged granite peninsula juts out into the Atlantic, where reefs and pinnacles have formed off its edges to attract a whole array of stunning fish and various other sea critters.
Where to Dive?
As there are so many different areas to explore, you could take a dive amongst one of the magical wrecks in the morning, visit a scary drop-off after lunch and then meander through the shoreline gullies and tunnels when the sun has set. There are plenty of diving clubs to get involved with and you can mix up your days with a stroll on the beach and a swim.
As The Gulf Steam directly flows towards the peninsula, you can find warm water with excellent visibility that is packed full of habitual and visiting marine life that isn’t found anywhere else in the UK. The strong tides bring a wealth of nutrients to the area to provide an ideal home for soft and stony corals, many anemones species and invertebrate life. These organisms carpet the rocks to create a beautiful flash of color that seems almost tropical. As you swim along you’ll enjoy fan corals, shoals of bass, flatfish, scorpionfish and even foreign sharks in the warmer areas. Cornwall’s marine life is essentially a freediver’s heaven.
As this South Western area of the UK has always been one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, here many ships have found their fate. Armada ships, liners and convoy shipping that once roamed the waters now make spectacular wrecks and homes for distinctive fish species. Visit one of the local diving centers to grab a map of the various wrecks you can explore.
Freediving at Pembrokeshire, Wales
Whether you’re just starting out in the sport or you’re a professional, the Pembrokeshire coast offers ample opportunities for Freediving. Recognized as an area of outstanding natural beauty, the geological features that stretch from the land to the ocean depths provide fascinating dive sites for all levels of experience.
Pembrokeshire is surrounded by coast on all three sides so there are plenty of sheltered areas to visit as well as reefs, gullies and wrecks to explore. The Gulf Stream flows in these areas to bring warm waters and a home for some unique marine life.
Where to Dive?
One of the most popular diving sites in the area is the Skomer Marine Reserve. Here you’ll find the reef at a depth of 15m and a wide selection of astounding organisms which includes sea birds, dead man’s fingers, crayfish and pink sea fans. To experience something a little different to your usual dive, then Stokholm East is the place to go to find a seal colony who will happily approach divers if they patiently wait. There’s also the Wreck of the Behar to check out, a WWII ship that collapsed on the seabed. Much of the wreck is only 10m deep with great visibility and home to many crabs, gobies and Pollack.
Freediving in St, Kilda, Scotland
For many experienced freedivers, St. Kilda is by far the best location for Freediving in the UK. These wild, jagged and desolate islands off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean provide many a unique diving sites and plenty of marine wildlife to discover. As the land was created by a volcanic explosion, jagged cliffs and sea stacks remain to create some of the most spectacular caves and tunnel dives in Europe.
The visibility here is almost crystal clear, but the challenging waters with difficult currents and ever-changing conditions are only suitable for the bravest diver. Take a dip next to the steep walls to find blankets of color made up of urchins, anemones and porifera and while you’re on land you’ll find a multitude of sea birds, especially the puffin which has become an emblem for the island. Amongst the reefs, there are numerous species of jellyfish and a staggering array of colorful shallow species such as lobster.
Where to Dive?
As the weather conditions are always so dramatically with the change at St. Kilda, where you choose to dive is likely to depend on the current conditions. Kay’s Cut, Hirta is one of the most spectacular areas to get in the water. The area is a cut in the rock with two narrow entrances and large boulders at its base. Here you’ll find covers of green and yellow sponges, anemones and razorbills. Another place that’s definitely worth a visit is the Village Bay area at the night time to witness octopus, flatfish and cuttlefish emerge from dark crevasses.
About the Author
This article was written by Mark Edwards, an experienced Freediving and Spearfishing trainer who works in the UK and overseas at more tropical locations such as Costa Rica and Panama. Mark recommends www.apnea.co.uk/8-freediving for all of your Freediving, Spearfishing and watersports equipment.