“Freediving is not only a sport, it’s a way to understand who we are.” -Natalia Molchanova, 23 times world freediving champion
Freediving is a fundamental part of the life of marine mammals like whales, seals and dolphins. Despite the fact that it is not widely known, humans have their own «mammalian dive reflex». During your time in the sea as you are exploring it with a mask maybe you too have taken a big breath and dived for a few brief moments to have a closer look at something that drew your attention - or just for fun. That is where freediving begins – a very common activity and far more than an extreme sport as it is often described.
Freediving is our pure contact with water, with our breath and the world within us. New sounds, playfulness of the light and of our thoughts in an environment full of life. In contrast to the risk-taking adrenaline junkies that many people imagine freedivers to be, the truth is much different. The sport of freediving demands calmness, relaxation and focus. It is a common concept among divers that the perfect dive is all about emotions, not the depth achieved; it comes about when we are able to let go completely and surrender to the moment. It is utter bliss. Like the freediving champion Sara Campbell describes: “Freediving for me is a spiritual path. It is where we have the opportunity to observe ourselves in absolute truth. The ocean reflects back whether we are living in line with the pure nature of human beings: that of complete harmony with our surroundings, without the need to grasp, control or fear anything. It goes way beyond being a sport, as it relies on much more than just our physical powers.”
Free diving in Crete
Freediving in Crete, as in the whole Mediterranean sea, begun as a part of the human search for food. Sea shells, fish and sponges that have attracted man since the dawn of civilization continue to be an objective of freediving until today as an important part of the tradition of Greek islands. Today spearfishing is the most common reason that locals in Crete begin diving in depths and then come the recreation of exploring the underwater world, the physical fitness and the inner peace.
The wilderness that one experiences at the mountains and coasts of Crete is a hint for what lies bellow the surface of its seas. The numerous dive sites, the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean and the rich geological profile of the island make Crete an ideal destination for everybody who loves to spend time underwater and is interested to begin freediving.
What are the best places for free diving in Crete?
The bay of Agia Pelagia with a maximum depth of 60m is a destination that will fully satisfy the demands of beginner and advanced freedivers coming to Crete. The beaches around the bay are well protected from the summer winds and are a safe and pleasant place for freediving education. Furthermore, due to its location the bay has a wide variety of sea life and can offer surprising encounters with beautiful groups of large amberjacks, dentex and other impressive sights.
There are many more sites that are recommended for freediving around the island of Crete, each one with its own beauty and with varying depths for all levels of freediving when the weather allows it. Some of them are the bay of Elounda to the east, the island of Dia (7 n. miles north of Heraklion if you have access to a boat), the beach of Kali Limenes, Agios Pavlos and Schinaria beaches in the Rethimnon region, Sougia, Sfakia and Paleochora in Chania region. However, many of these destinations are remote and almost all of them demand the presence or the experience of an advanced freediver. Last but not least, do not forget the basic rule of freediving, “always dive with a buddy”. Never dive alone and make sure you have good communication with the partner you have chosen to dive with. Freediving is a safe sport that can give you great emotions when one knows what they are doing and acts consciously.