deep sea freedive

How Deep Can A Human Dive Without Scuba Gear?

As you grow in confidence swimming under the water with scuba gear you may become curious as to how deep you could dive without it. This activity is known as freediving. Find out how deep a human can dive without scuba gear here…

The Freediving Experience

What is freediving? The definition of freediving is diving underwater without the use of breathing apparatus – particularly in deep water. It’s extreme and can be very dangerous. A free diver will take one very deep breath and dive hundreds of feet under the water without any scuba gear. It takes training, practice, and discipline.

Deep diving is defined as a dive that exceeds 60 feet (18.28 meters). That means that most people can dive up to a maximum of 60 feet safely. For most swimmers, a depth of 20 feet (6.09 meters) is the most they will free dive. Experienced divers can safely dive to a depth of 40 feet (12.19 meters) when exploring underwater reefs.

When free diving the body goes through several changes to help with acclimatization. The heartbeat slows by up to 25% – and experienced divers can reduce their heart rate to more than 50%.

To cope with the pressure the body allows vital organs to keep functioning properly by moving blood to the most important parts. This is known as peripheral vasoconstriction.

The lungs compensate for the excess pressure by expanding as necessary to allow for changes in the body. Want to try freediving yourself, while you are in Tulum or Playa del Carmen, we recommend going for a discovery freedive in a cenote. Some of the best freedivers in the world, do in fact practice in the cenotes of Riviera Maya.

Check Freediving Adventures

Equipment we recommend

Frequently Asked Questions about Freediving Records Answered

Underwater formation photo by Andre Musgrove with freediver Johnny Deep

How long can a human go without air?

Everyone and every situation is different – but we can go for three minutes without oxygen. After 5 to 10 minutes of not breathing, you’re likely to develop serious brain damage that may be irreversible. However, free divers with regular training can go for much longer periods of time as they learn to minimize their metabolic functions and preserve oxygen.

What is the deepest dive without oxygen?

The maximum depth reached by anyone in a single breath is 702 feet (213.9 metres) and this record was set in 2007 by Herbert Nitsch. He also holds the record for the Deepest no-limit freedive– reaching a depth of 831 feet (253.2 metres) but he sustained a brain injury as he was ascending. Herbert is a multiple-time World Champion and the present record holder for freediving known as “the Deepest Man on Earth.”

How long can an average person hold their breath?

Most people without any training can hold their breath for about 30 seconds without gasping for air. But free divers who swim without the aid of snorkels or scuba gear can hold their breath for more than 10 minutes.

What is the world’s record for the longest time someone has held their breath underwater?

The world record for the longest breathhold is held by the Croatian breath-hold diver Budimir Šobat. On March 27, 2021, he achieved an impressive time of 24 minutes and 37 seconds.

The women’s longest breath hold world record is held by Karoline Meyer (Brazil) who managed to hold her breath for  18 min 32.59 sec. on July 10, 2009. Karoline is a professional freediver who trained for 4 months to try and break the record. Prior to the attempt she inhaled oxygen for 24 minutes.

The world record for a non-oxygen-assisted breath hold or static apnea is 11:35 minutes by Stéphane Mifsud on June 8, 2009.

What is the longest distance someone has swum underwater?
Stig Severinsen of Denmark set the record for the longest distance swam underwater with one breath (open water) on November 26, 2020, in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. He covered an impressive distance of 202 meters (662 ft 8.7 in).

What is the deepest dive without the assistance of fins or weights? 

William Trubridge – a 30-year-old New Zealander is the first man to dive 396 feet meters (121 meters) without any assistance. The dive was a Constant Weight Apnea Without Fins (CWTNF) dive – meaning the diver isn’t allowed to drop weights, and no swimming aids are allowed. A guideline is followed but can’t be touched. The dive lasted 4 minutes and 10 seconds.

How is freediving different from scuba diving?

The main difference between scuba diving and freediving is that when scuba diving, the diver is using a tank of air (often oxygen) to breathe underwater. Freediving, on the other hand, is done without any breathing apparatus—the diver holds their breath and must be very skilled to prevent themselves from going too deep or experiencing any type of danger. So if you go scuba diving in Tulum, you will have a full set of dive gear to use, but if you go freediving in cenotes, this would be only with a mask, weights, fins, and a wetsuit.

Try Freediving & Learn with the Top Local Cenote Freedivers

Go freediving in cenotes with Koox Diving and you’ll be taught all the breathing techniques you need to know. With practice, you’ll be able to safely dive to explore greater depths without the use of scuba gear.

Freediving tours  Prices / person Duration Book Now
1 Freedive in a Cenote 144USD 8am-12pm Book Now
2 Freedives in Cenotes 214USD 8am-2pm Book Now
Discovery Freediving – 1 dive 154USD 8am – 12pm Book Now
1 Freedive in a Cenote from Playa 144USD 8am-12pm Book Now
2 Freedives in Cenotes from Playa 214USD 8am-2pm Book Now
Discovery Freediving – 1 dive from Playa 154USD 8am – 12pm Book Now

Prices for SSI Freediving Courses in Cenotes

Freediving Courses from Tulum Prices / person Duration Book Now
SSI LEVEL 1 FREEDIVER – up to 20 m (66ft) 445USD 2 days Book Now
SSI LEVEL 2 FREEDIVER – up to 30 m (99ft) 490USD 3 days Book Now
SSI LEVEL 3 FREEDIVER up to 40 m (120ft) 590USD 3 days Book Now
Freediving Courses from Playa del Carmen Prices / person Duration Book Now
SSI LEVEL 1 FREEDIVER – up to 20 m (66ft) 445USD 2 days Book Now
SSI LEVEL 2 FREEDIVER – up to 30 m (99ft) 490USD 3 days Book Now
SSI LEVEL 3 FREEDIVER up to 40 m (120ft) 590USD 3 days Book Now

Prices include:

  • International SSI certification
  • Complete freediving gear set
  • Digital learning materials
  • Transportation from our dive shops in Tulum or Playa del Carmen
  • Cenotes entrance fees
  • Refreshing drinks and lunch
  • Photos and video

Spearfishing Tours for All Levels

Join Koox Diving’s freedive spearfishing tour near Tulum, designed for both beginners and seasoned freedivers. Our expert guides will teach you essential spearfishing techniques, from breath-hold strategies to targeting fish. Experience the thrill of hunting underwater and develop a new skill while exploring the beautiful Riviera Maya waters. Whether you’re new to the sport or looking to enhance your abilities, our tours offer a safe and educational adventure.

Freediving & Spearfishing Guided Tour Prices in USD Duration Get this tour
Spearfishing tour from Tulum – beginners $389 7am – 1pm Book Now
Spearfishing tour from Tulum – advanced🚤 $459 7am – 1pm Book Now
Spearfishing tour from Playa del Carmen – beginners $389 7am – 1pm Book Now
Spearfishing tour from Playa del Carmen – advanced🚤 $459 7am – 1pm Book Now


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More details:

🤿2-4 people small group visits – every day, meeting points available: Tulum, Playa Del Carmen
🤿Prices are fixed, regardless of the number of people in the group.
🤿All prices include the rental of Complete freediving and spearfishing gear set: – a high-quality wetsuit, fins, mask, weights, and the essential spear (harpoon).
🤿Boat Ride included for the Advanced tour: Board our comfortable vessel and enjoy the scenic beauty as we navigate to our special spearfishing spots.
🤿Expert Guidance: Our skilled instructors are with you every step of the way, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
🤿Water to refill your water bottle and healthy Orale snacks are also included

For all freediving fans – Watch a Freediving movie shot on breathhold

On another note, we have something interesting to share. One of the greatest underwater projects, we have been really happy to take part in, is finally live. In 2018 we had the honour to collaborate on this amazing project called:  Child of the Cenote – a 5 min short freediving movie by André Musgrove.

Freediving equipment we recommend

Dive Masks Brand and Model Name Pros Cons Link
1. Cressi F1 Frameless Mask
  • Comfortable
  • Great field of view
  • Affordable
  • May not fit all face shapes
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2. Scubapro Synergy Trufit Twin Mask
  • Trufit tech for comfort
  • Good field of view
  • May be pricey for some budgets
Buy Now
3. Aqua Lung Single Lens Dive Mask
  • Wide field of view
  • Comfortable
  • Easy adjust straps
  • Might not fit smaller faces comfortably
Buy Now


Snorkels Brand and Model Name Pros Cons Link
1. Cressi Supernova Dry Snorkel
  • Dry top design
  • Flexible tube
  • Good price point
  • Might not be as durable as some other models
Buy Now
2. TUSA Hyperdry Elite II Dry Snorkel
  • Dry top
  • High flow purge
  • Comfortable mouthpiece
  • More expensive than other options
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3. Scubapro Spectra Dry Snorkel
  • Comfortable mouthpiece
  • Dry top
  • Efficient purge valve
  • Slightly higher price point
Buy Now


Weight Belts  Brand and Model Name Pros Cons Link
1. Cressi Nylon Weight Belt
  • Strong nylon material, stainless steel buckle, affordable
  • Weights can sometimes slide around
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2. SEAC Rubber Weight Belt
  • High-quality rubber, comfortable, keeps weights secure
  • Slightly higher price point
Buy Now
3. Riffe Rubber Weight Belt
  • Easy to adjust, secure lock, durable
  • Higher price compared to nylon belts
Buy Now


Dive Weights Brand and Model Name Pros Cons Link
1. Cressi Nylon Weight Belt
  • Multiple weight options
  • Scuba dive weights can be used on your weight belt for diving OR placed inside the pocket/pouch of a BCD vest
  • None
Buy Now


Dive Fins Brand and Model Name Pros Cons Link
1. Scubapro Seawing Nova
  • Exceptional comfort and power
  • Durable construction
  • Innovative design
  • Higher price range
Buy Now
2. Cressi Pro Light Open Heel Dive Fin
  • Affordable,
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Great performance
  • Not as powerful as some more expensive models
Buy Now
3. Atomic Aquatics Split Fin
  • Excellent propulsion
  • Speed
  • Reduced fatigue
  • More expensive
  • May not suit beginners
Buy Now


🤿See Whale Sharks & 🌴 Explore the Cenotes & 🐊Croc Dive 🐢Akumal & 🐟Try Spearfishing or 🏝 Dive & Snorkel with Sea Lions in La Paz🌵