Freediving with large ocean animals is like being part of a National Geographic documentary, in real life! It’s an experience that’s both humbling and awe-inspiring. As a freediver, you get to be up close and personal with some of the most majestic creatures on Earth, and it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.
The beauty of freediving is that you don’t need much gear to explore the underwater world. All you need is a wetsuit (for colder water), a mask and snorkel, a pair of fins, and some good lungs. Freediving allows you to be in the ocean on its own terms, without the noise and bubbles of scuba gear. You become part of the ocean, and the animals come to accept you as one of their own.
Freediving allows you to encounter some of the world’s largest creatures. Whether it’s the gentle giants of the sea, like whale sharks and manta rays, or the elusive and majestic humpback whales, freediving allows you to get up close and personal with these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.
One of the most incredible experiences you can have as a freediver is swimming with whale sharks. These gentle giants can grow up to 40 feet long and weigh as much as 20 tons. Despite their massive size, they are incredibly docile and pose no threat to humans. In fact, swimming alongside a whale shark is one of the most quietly awe-inspiring experiences you can have in the ocean.
Diving down on one breath, kicking and equalising in sync, you forget about the world of air and light above and slowly glide down into a myriad shades of blue. Suddenly your eyes pick out a pattern… dots of white on navy… as you get closer the pattern shapes itself into a giant whale shark. Spots and dots on the back and fins as unique as a fingerprint. Swimming alongside you realise how small we are, how lucky we are to live on a planet full of gentle giants… all you need is that one breath…
Manta rays are another incredible animal that you can encounter while freediving. Oceanic mantas or manta birostris, are the greatest of the manta species, these graceful creatures can have wingspans of up to 23 feet and can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds.
Of course, freediving with large ocean animals can be intimidating at first. But with the right training and equipment, it’s an unforgettable experience. Freediving allows you to connect with the ocean and its inhabitants in a more intimate way than on scuba diving or snorkelling.
There are several responsible operators around the world who offer guided experiences with ocean greats. Be sure to use a reputable operator with all the right licences.
Grab your mask & snorkel and take the plunge – the ocean is waiting!