Are you a newly certified PADI Freediver looking for your first destination to practice your new skills? Or maybe you’re an experienced freediver searching for freediving destinations that will challenge your abilities? Whatever your breath-holding experience or interests, our ocean planet has something for everyone, from sinkholes to shipwrecks – not to mention exceptional marine life encounters!
Ready to jump in? Here are 11 incredible freediving destinations to add to your bucket list!
1. Koh Tao, Thailand
If freediving amongst whale sharks, vibrant coral reefs, and incredible marine life sounds like you, then make sure to add Koh Tao to your bucket list. Located on the Western Shore of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is known for its white sand beaches, turquoise blue water, and rugged cliffs. With over 25 dive sites to explore, including the HTMS Sattakut Wreck sitting at 30 meters/100 feet, Koh Tao is a freediver’s paradise. Enjoy one of the island’s famous beach sunsets following a day packed with world-class freediving sites. What more could you want!?
2. Dean’s Blue Hole – Long Island, Bahamas
Located on the southern end of Long Island in the Bahamas, Dean’s Blue Hole is a must-visit site for any freediver. In fact, Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s second-deepest ocean blue hole, with a depth of 202 meters/663 feet. Surrounded by crystal blue oceans and white sand beaches, this dive site is known for its calm waters and easy access from the nearby beach. Not only is this dive site perfect for beginners learning to freedive, but it has also been used for many advanced freediving competitions. Indeed, several Guinness records for the world’s deepest free dive have been set here!
3. Cebu, Philippines
Imagine freediving into warm tropical waters with 15-20 meter/50-66 feet visibility – sounds pretty amazing, right? In Cebu, you will find diving with just that and much more. Discover an incredible range of dive sites that offer not only beautiful coral reefs but also some unique marine animals. From thresher sharks to rays and whale sharks, Cebu has it all. You won’t want to miss out on diving this paradise destination teeming with underwater life.
4. The Blue Hole – Dahab, Egypt
The Blue Hole in Dahab is undeniably one of Egypt’s most famous dive sites. Located 8 km/4.97 miles north of Dahab, The Blue Hole is a plunging sinkhole that drops down to 110 meters/360 feet. Not only is this pristine dive site great to practice your skills, but vibrant coral reefs and many tropical Red Sea marine life species will surround you along the way. On the reef edge of The Blue Hole, there is also a shallow opening known as ‘the saddle’. This is one of the area’s most popular dive sites for freediving trips, known for its colorful coral seabeds and dense schools of tropical fish. You can also access this dive site from the shore, making it a perfect (and easily accessible) freediving spot!
5. The Great Blue Hole – Belize
Located off the coast of Belize, in the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, The Great Blue Hole is probably one of the most recognizable (and largest) dive sites and freediving destinations in the world. With a depth of 125 meters/410 feet and a diameter of 300 meters/984 feet, this site is perfect for any level freediver. Enjoy diving into crystal-clear waters while countless species of marine life and beautiful coral formations surround you. After crossing this dive off your bucket list, make sure you also check out the neighboring outer cayes and atolls of Belize for some more unbelievable dive sites.
6. Cenotes of the Mayan Riviera – Mexico
With over 6,000 cenotes to explore, there is no doubt as to why freedivers flock to Mexico. In the Mayan Riviera, you will find cenotes filled with crystal-clear water and breathtaking underwater caverns just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re diving the Dos Ojos, Angelita, Kukul Kan, or Chac Mool cenotes of the Mayan Riviera, the underwater beauty of these popular destinations won’t disappoint. Without a doubt, this is one of the best freediving locations in the world!
7. Gili Islands – Lombok, Indonesia
The Gili Islands are well known for their incredible beauty, both on top of the water and underneath. Here you can find warm, turquoise waters full of spectacular coral reefs and marine life species. Located off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, the Gili Islands are one of the best places to go freediving and are made up of three Islands: Trawangan, Air, and Meno. Year-round, you can find calm surface conditions, warm water, and amazing visibility, as well as great depth levels. This world-class destination is perfect for both beginner freedivers and seasoned pros.
8. Sri Lanka
Have you ever wanted to freedive with blue and sperm whales? If you answered yes, then you might want to add Sri Lanka to your bucket list. Imagine jumping into clear blue waters with nothing in sight but a whale swimming in the distance. Indeed, you can find whales swimming in the ocean around 6-12 km/10-20 miles from the coast of Sri Lanka. What better destination to practice your freediving breath-hold than swimming with whales in Sri Lanka!
Cyprus blends underwater paradise with topside Mediterranean beauty and culture, even during winter months. It’s a go-to for freedivers of all levels, and you can explore everything from WWII planes to caves filled with ancient pottery. For advanced freedivers, the draw is undoubtedly the Zenobia shipwreck at 16-43 meters/52-141 feet deep (along with the 104 articulated lorries she was carrying!). The wreck is also a haven for creatures like octopuses, scorpionfish, rays, moray eels, seahorses, and triggerfish. Home to many competitions as well as some of the best freediving in Europe, you’ll definitely want to add Cyprus to your travel list.
10. Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa is famed for its wildlife, from unforgettable land safaris to the world-famous Sardine Run. Known for great white shark diving, Cape Town is equally synonymous with action and adventure. However, there’s a ton more to this Western Cape destination for beginners and accomplished freedivers alike. Seek out colorful critters among rocky reefs and enchanting kelp forests, or explore the peninsula’s many wrecks. Meanwhile, don’t forget to visit the popular freediving spots of Partridge Point or Duiker Rock, where close-up encounters with seals and rays should be on every freediver’s (and photographer’s) bucket list!
Want to take your freediving adventures a fin-step further? Then try a liveaboard trip to the South Pole’s icy climate. It’s certainly a far reach from the sunny tropics, but brave the cold and you’ll be rewarded with phenomenal vistas and marine life. Look out for orcas, penguins, seals… all the way down to the tiniest crustaceans and sea stars. For the ultimate way to switch off and Live Unfiltered, head to Antarctica. With endless visibility and silence, it promises a level of freediving tranquility that you just won’t find anywhere else on the planet.
Discover the best freediving destinations today
Ready to start exploring and practicing your PADI Freediver skills? Find peace in the calm blue waters around Thailand, Belize, or the Philippines. Or, raise your adventure game in South Africa or even Antarctica. Whatever your ability or interests, discover the best freediving destinations and locate a PADI Freediver Center today!