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

Masks, use a low volume mask.

Fins, long fins you can choose from different materials (plastic, carbon fiber)

Snorkels, rubber and that you can fold them

Wetsuit, open cell are the best for freediving 3mm and 5 mm

Weight belt, rubber belt is the best.


Frequently Asked Questions about Freediving Answered

Underwater formation photo by Andre Musgrove with freediver Johnny Deep

What is the deepest free dive ever?

William Trubridge – a 30-year-old New Zealander is the first man to dive 396 feet metres (121 metres) without any assistance. The dive was a Constant Weight Apnea Without Fins – 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 four minutes and 10 seconds.

How long can a human go without air?

Everyone and every situation is different – but we can go for three minutes without oxygen. After five to ten 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 minimise 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 dive without oxygen – reaching a depth of 831 feet (253.2 metres) but he sustained a brain injury as he was ascending.

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 aids of snorkels or scuba gear can actually 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 current men’s world record holder is Stephane Mifsud of France with a time of 11 minutes and 35 seconds. The women’s world record is held by Natalia Molchanova of Russia with a static breath hold of just over nine minutes.

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

For all freediving fans – Watch a Freediving movie shot on breath hold

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
Buy Now
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


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