Whether you’re a veteran freediver or you just want to try it out, we will tell you everything you need to know about freediving in Oahu.
Freediving is one of the oldest forms of diving. Some indigenous people groups still use it to earn their living by harvesting sea-produce that is commercially sold. Now, it is something that we can learn to develop a whole new relationship with water and diving.
To go freediving, you don’t need any previous experience in scuba or snorkeling. However, you do have to know how to swim, and have some idea of your physical capacities. If you are not in good health, especially with a condition affecting the lungs (cough, phlegm), it’s best not to free dive. Lastly, for a number of free diving certification courses, you need to be at least 12 years old.
Basic Freediving Capability Requirements
If you tell your organizer you have already taken a free diving certification, they will expect the following capability from you:
- Static ability to hold your breath for at least 90 seconds;
- Maximum horizontal swimming on one breath for at least 80 feet; and
- Weighted freedive for up to 66 feet.
If your training or your last freedive was quite some time ago or you don’t know if you are still at that level, you should let the organizer know.
If you are trying freediving for the first time, these are the basics you will learn.
Levels of Freediving
If you are a regular freediver, this is just a review. For first-time or recent freedivers, this will help you tell your organizers your level of experience in free dives.
Static apnea. Static apnea refers to holding your breath underwater without moving or covering any distance. It triggers the body to respond by constricting the blood vessels of your extremities, sending more to your vital organs. It also lessens your body’s overall speed of oxygen consumption, helping you stay longer underwater.
Dynamic apnea. Dynamic apnea refers to horizontal freediving on single breaths. It’s used to measure how far you can swim, with constant movement, on one breath. At this point you begin learning how weights balance you out in freediving.
Dynamic no fins. This is basically dynamic apnea, but using no fins to move.
Constant weight. Constant weight freediving is done by going straight down and straight up a guide line without touching it. If static apnea measured breath-holding and dynamic apnea measured distance on a single breath, constant weight freediving measures depth on a single breath. You learn the techniques of going deeper with little effort, and how to return to the surface.
Free immersion. Free immersion freediving seems easier than constant weight, because you descend and ascend by pulling yourself down and up on the guide line. However, it has a muscle-use side to it that can make you even more tired if not trained how to deal with it.
Variable weight. Variable weight freediving is basically freediving with the ability to change your weight during that one breath. Usually, or practically, weights are added to descend and shed or shifted to help you ascend faster.
No limits. No limits freediving is only for extremely experienced freedivers, who already know their own limits. These freedivers go swiftly down to great depths with the help of a heavy weight, and rise as swiftly with inflatable bags or vests.
Basic Gear You Need
- A diving mask. It should be set close to your face to reduce drag.
- A freediving snorkel. It’s curved and is made for drawing the breath you need for freediving.
- Freediving fins. They should have closed heels for more streamlining, and longer blades for tighter control.
- Scuba wetsuit. 5 / 3 mm is recommended for Oahu diving.
- Weights and weight belt. This is especially if you are training with dynamic apnea, or planning constant or variable weight freedives.
Always make sure to ask your organizer if there’s any other gear you are required to bring.
Areas for Freediving in Oahu
Here are some of the places to freedive in Oahu.
Electric Beach. The thermal exhaust vents create an area of warm water where fish and turtles gather. Coral beds also grow freely in the area. It’s a delightful place to casually freedive. Beware the exhaust vents that can push you quite a few feet backwards unless you’re a strong swimmer!
Kea’au Corners. A more complicated space for more experienced freedivers, Kea’au Corners includes lava tubes, caverns, and overhangs that house many reef fish and other sea creatures. It’s a fascinating place to explore in Oahu.
Pukano Point. Light, easy, and shallow for all kinds of divers. The lava and rock formations create overhangs and caves for fish to gather in, fun for discovery of sea life. It’s a protected space, so the underwater beauty you see will continue to grow and develop for the next time you visit.