Freediving in the Caribbean

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At age 17, Venezuelan native Luis Fonseca dove into the world of freediving, a passion that he would carry into a career for the next 30 years. Now, as a licensed scuba and free-diving instructor, Fonseca is taking his love of the dive somewhere new: the island of Saba, the smallest of the Dutch Caribbean islands. 

What Is Freediving?

Freediving is like scuba diving, but with one important exception: no scuba gear. In freediving, your ability to hold your breath is crucial, as the diving takes place without any scuba, snorkel, or other breathing equipment.

Freediving is considered to be a very "zen" experience, with divers encouraged to focus on the environment and the intimacy of equipment-free underwater exploration; as Fonseca's site notes: "You are the only equipment you need."

Fonseca’s choice of Saba for this free-diving school is not surprising; in fact, Saba is one of the world’s top diving destinations. It also features a pristine marine environment, another draw for Fonseca in his pursuit of the perfect setting for his impressive diving school. 

Opened in early 2015, the Saba Freediving School offers training and instructions for divers of all levels. For beginners, “Discover Freediving” is a half-day course that will get newcomers acquainted with the philosophy behind freediving and the practical work necessary to master the art of the dive. The school also offers a “Zen Freediving Course,” for those looking to extend and expand upon their skills. In this course, participants will learn relaxation strategies such as conscious breathing and stretching, how to meditate and relay their meditation strategies into their dive work, and develop skills in “watermanship,” or finding a sense of oneness with the water around them.

Other Diving Options

The school also offers freediving excursions, specialty courses, and competitive opportunities with training and certification from the International Association of Apnea (AIDA International), the global authority for competitive freediving. The Saba Freediving School also leads a variety of tours around the island waters, including on-shore and underwater site-seeing. 

With Fonseca’s love of the water also comes a love of the marine environment, a priority he takes to heart in the operations of his school. The Saba Freediving School emphasizes “zero impact” techniques on every dive, and seeks to make all dives an educational experience -- an approach that is becoming more popular across the Caribbean, emphasizing eco-friendly travel and an appreciation of nature as a core value for travelers in the islands. 

Freediving can make for a body-mind awareness and experience unique unto itself, allowing divers to interact with and explore the underwater world in a serene and minimalistic way. With this in mind, the Saba Freediving School offers this sentiment: "Let the water shape you." Intriguing, right? 

At the Saba Freediving School, divers of all levels are encouraged to tour the island by land and by sea, discovering the beauty of the natural elements, and learning to love what Fonseca fell in love with more than 30 years ago: the water, the quiet, and the dive.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, there also is a freediving school in Turks and Caicos, and the annual Caribbean Cup for freedivers is held on the island of Roatan, Honduras.

Want to know more about diving in the Caribbean? Check out our guide to the best scuba and diving destinations in the Caribbean islands here.