Freediving - an activity that was in existence long before scuba diving was ever thought of - is slowly growing in popularity, both as a precursor to taking up scuba diving, but more and more as a sport in its own right. Freediving is diving without the use of snorkels or scuba gear, and many people prefer to do this. The freedom in the water without being strapped to bulky equipment can make you feel much more part of the underwater world. The absence of noise and bubbles also means you are less likely to scare off the subterranean marine life. Learning to freedive involves training your lungs to hold your breath for periods up to three minutes, enabling you to dive to depths of 20 meters. This is normally achievable after only two days of training, and longer courses will help you to further develop your techniques. There are a few reputable outfits providing freediving courses on the island, some specialising in only free diving, and others also offering scuba diving courses. So take your time in choosing your course, as the conditions for learning free diving and scuba diving are not necessarily the same. For freediving, you will need a peaceful location where you can relax and learn how to hold your breath. It is also essential that you have an excellent rapport with your instructor, or you will become anxious and stressed and it will not work so well. Ideally, you should be in groups of no more than four people. Make sure your course covers basic freediving skills, such as "dynamic" (horizontal underwater swimming), "free immersion" (a head-first dive where the diver pulls themself down a weighted rope to depth), building up to a "duck dive" (use of fins for propulsion to lower depth.) Here are three good freediving school suggestions to get you going. Apnea Total Rates: Freediver (2 days), 5500B; Advanced (3 days), 7000B + many more. Email: Tel: +66 819565720 Address: 9/224 Moo 1, Sairee Beach. Website: Big Blue Freediving Rates: Hold your breath (1 day) 3000B; 2 days 5500B; Advanced (3 days) 7000B Email: Tel: +66 77456050 Address: 17/18 Moo 1, Big Blue Diving Resort, Sairee Beach Website: Crystal Freediving Rates: basic (1 day) 2000B; freediver (2 days) 5500B; Advanced (3 days) 7000B Email: Tel: +66 857896274 Address: 7/1 Moo 2, end of Sairee Beach. Website:

Map of Lower Gulf of Thailand

Lower Gulf of Thailand-Map