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Border between snorkeling and freediving

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Apr 21, 2003
Hello everybody,

I am planning a trip to the Mayan Coast and am hoping to get a lot of snorkeling in. I enjoy scuba diving but what I don't like about it is all the gear. I can hold my breath around a minute without hyperventilating - just from rest.

What is the "border" between freediving and snorkeling? I've gone under water a lot before for the minute or so I can hold my breath - is it the striving for depth? Is it the carrying of weights? Is it the 2+ minutes you guys can hold your breath?

Given that I won't have the opportunity to freedive with an experienced partner, what can I do to get more experience holding my breath safely? Can I go to 3-5 metres safely? can I weight myself? Should I use a snorkeling vest + weights?

Sorry to bombard you all with all these barely related questions!

Thanks for any advice.

3-5 meters is still snorkelling, I count freediving from 10m and deeper. So don't worry about this. What you plan is, I think, quite safe for you. Have a pair of long fins, it will help you a lot as you are a beginner.

In 3-5m depth you'll find your positive buoyancy very uncomfortable, some lead will be helpful

One minute is poor, so take care. It is always helpful to have a buddy, anyway, if you do not have any, don't dive deeper than this 3-5m. As for the vest, I don't think you'll need it, even snorkelling in 8m I find it useless... but it may give you more safety, or maybe a "safety feeling" so its on you...if you are affraid, have a vest

as for me, I do static apnea 4:20 mins...it is poor, I know, but there is big difference between simply lying on the sufrace holding your breath... and diving, you consume more oxygene (moving, fining, swimming under water, etc.)....

to prolong time under water, minimize your moves to necessary, take a deep breath and stay calm, relaxed... it will help a lot.... and, no fear, of sure ;-)

(sorry no english version yet)



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Thank you Maros, that is all good advice.

Can anyone provide a link to a beginner's tutorial to learning how to extend one's time holding one's breath? Google has, for once, not come up with much of value.

Here Paul, give this a try. It consists of a simple training plan for static, walking, and stair-climbing apnea. I found it useful when I first started to try to increase my breath-hold time. If you're healthy and don't smoke, you'll be hitting 3 min dry statics before you know it.

Good luck, and be safe.


For me, the difference between snorkeling and freediving does come down to the carrying of weights.

Snorkeling usually involves surface swimming with brief dives to shallow depths to have a quick look at something before the positive buoyancy of the wetsuit and/or full lungs drags you to the surface.

It may sound overly simplistic but I think freediving starts when one purposely takes steps to prolong that short visit at depth.

The weights are the first step to extending both the depth and the time envelope.

Hi Uridna/Ted,

That link doesn't appear to work for me - perhaps the content was in a "frame". I've tried to navigate to obvious places within that site to no avail. Could you give me instructions for getting there from that URL?


I don't think 3-5 meters is all safe.. I mean yes most of the time, but most freediving accidents that happen in Finalnd are caused by mostly inexperienced "freedivers" doing their "dynamic apnea" (diving as long distance as they can on one breath) .. so I don't think depth is the first factor in safety... buddy would be great, but if not stay tuned to your own feeling, when it is time to go obey your instincts and go up...
Hope you have good time diving/snorkeling! do it safe!
Listen to the old bod and don't push the urges to breath too much without a buddy... you'll do fine. Vis in mex will be such that even if you don't get under very deep you'll still see a lot from the surface even if your in 50+ feet of water.
I have been to the Mayan coast (riviera) many times. I'm sure your doing a lot of homework on the area but last time wife and I were there the weather was such that the snorkeling was terrible. it was so windy. If you run into that trouble, don't hesitate to get yourself to some of the area Cenotes or/and a day trip over to Cozumel, generally if the mainland is rough, Coz will be smooth. You can do some searches here for some good shore access over at Coz and for some notes on the Cenotes. Maybe check out Corona Beach over at Coz, that wasn't too bad, easy current, enough to see, great viz, but a $10us taxi ride to the south. Take a dive flag along if you plan on getting away from shore any distance... boat traffic is crazy and over at coz you won't want to be far from shore without one. Have a great trip...
Where u planning on staying?
Hi Fred,

Good advice, thanks for your tips about cozumel. We'll be staying at the Bahia Principe Tulum. Very much looking forward to it!

Cozumel and freediving training...

Hi Pragma, Do let us hear about your trip when you get back: I am also transitioning from snorkeling to freediving, so unirdna's post with the link is very helpful (thanks unirdna!)
---It would probably go under the category of 'Freediving Stories' I think. Let me know, as I'm very interested in Cozumel and the vicinity :) Thanks!
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