A boy dives, representing young Rohani, in Jago: A Life Underwater. Photo Copyright BBC Four.
Last weekend I finally got around to watching Jago: A Life Underwater. In it, an octogenarian sea nomad named Rohani tells the story of his life in Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle. Having grown up in the Togian Islands, it was necessary for him to take to the water in order to sustain himself through the life available in it. Through the ancient art of spearfishing and the Bajau people’s tradition of storytelling, we learn not only about the subject of the film, but the culture and way of life of his people. Throughout the documentary, people play Rohani at different points in his journey to today. From what the viewer can gather, these are other skilled freedivers, from child to adult, a sign that the way of life is alive and well. In Rohani himself, you can see a man with a fine-tuned lung capacity. With each dive he does on his own, and ironically, each cigarette smoked, you can almost feel the amount of breath he can hold in his lungs.
While already fascinated by freediving, its risks and benefits, and ultimately the technique itself, I used the time after watching the film to go beyond thinking about its long tradition and looked into how hobbyists from new to experienced can get in the deep without a tank. What I came up with is five great spots in different corners of the world to go freediving. If you don’t see one near you, research spots near your locale with Planet Deepblu.
Frediving with a sperm whale. Photo Copyright Fish Eye Freediving/Shutterstock.
Let’s start big. Very, very big. In Zanzibar, off the East Coast of the African Continent, you can freedive with sperm and humpback whales. This rare opportunity is only found in a few places on our blue dot, and those who take it never regret it. In addition to this unique opportunity, the waters are populated by dolphins, turtles, and a rainbow array of corals. This area is diveable at any time of year.
Andre Eales, owner of Formula Freediving, takes some time out to remove debris that is polluting the water. Photo Copyright Formula Freediving.
In the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Marathon. It has a one-stop shop for all of your freediving needs, in addition to courses to train you in the art of the dive and the sport of spear fishing. The locals at Formula Freediving have all of the gear you need for a casual dive as well as spearfishing, snorkeling, and other ways to get out and experience the water.
The Blue Hole, mapped. Copyright Dahab Divers Lodge.
If you’re into freediving, chances are you already know about or have been to Dahab. Famous for its Blue Hole, one of the deadliest diving sites on Earth, Dahab can be an unforgettable and pleasantly deep dive if you play it safe and always mind the way of the locals. The hole stretches over 80 meters and goes 130 meters deep, luring thrill seekers from all over into its depths.
We’d take a moment to think about it, too. Photo Copyright Freedive Antarctica.
This is not for everyone, to say the least, but if you’re some sort of human-penguin hybrid or aspire to be one, you can join the small group of people who have dared to swim in the icy waters of the bays of Antarctica. While the dive itself is painful until your extremities go numb and breath is limited from the amount of chill and anxiety flowing through your veins and brian, divers also note that the ride out there through treacherous waters is the worst part. The ocean in these parts simply can’t be defeated by seasickness pills; however, those who have made the dive consider it one of the most rewarding experiences they’ve ever gone through.
There’s plenty to take in before, during, and after the dive. Photo Copyright Sailing Club.
I’ll give this with a bit of a disclaimer, Vietnam is by and large my favorite place to visit. While unmatched in beauty by most regions of the globe, it’s also the unsung hero of freediving in Southeast Asia. While many highly qualified schools and beautiful locations in the Philippines deserve every bit of credit to their name, there’s plenty to discover a bit further south in Nha Trang. Lush underwater environments with strong backgrounds overhead make for an experience more relaxing than many places found around the globe.
But These Are Only the Beginning
With our new Planet Deepblu feature, you can discover your next dive through an interactive interface, locate it on the map, and see ratings and reviews by people who have been there before. Make sure to check it out, and let us know your favorite spots around the globe.
Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor