How to Conquer Kona This Summer

Words: Megan Michelson
Photo above: MORGAN MAASSEN 

Learning a new sport in a far-flung locale this summer is one thing. But what if you gained more than just a skill from it? The keys to getting the most out of your Hawaiian getaway.

Do This

Freediving is like snorkeling on steroids. Experience the ocean’s underwater ecosystem from far below the surface—all while holding your breath. The best place to learn to freedive is Hawaii, where tropical waters reward divers with warm temperatures and sightings of sea turtles, tiger sharks and more. 


“Freediving can deliver some unbelievable experiences. Hawaii is perfect because you have great depth close to the shore with incredible marine life,” says Guillaume Nery, French freediving world champion and record holder.  


Gain This

Learning how to hold your breath underwater will teach you valuable lessons about staying calm in stressful situations. “If you can teach yourself not to panic, that’s a very good thing,” says Ashley Merryman, an award- winning journalist and co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing. Certain types of exercise and sports participation are called voluntary stressors—the activity may push you to the brink but you’re choosing it, as opposed to involuntary stressors that are out of your control, like getting stuck in traffic. “Research shows that long exposure to voluntary stressors can help you manage the involuntary stressors in your life,” says Merryman. “So freediving can help you become more comfortable with stress, both physical and psychological. ” 


“Freediving can help you become more comfortable with stress, both physical and psychological,” says Ashley Merryman, co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing.  

© Brian Bielman

Get Started

Performance Freediving International teaches multi-day courses for beginners to experts all over the world, including Kona, Hawaii. You’ll start in a classroom, then take your skills to a pool and, eventually, open water. Learn breath-holding tips, diving techniques and safety procedures. “Knowing how to freedive safely is key for a beginner,” says Mandy-Rae Krack, a seven-time world record holder and a Performance Freediving instructor. “Besides learning proper safety, the courses will also teach you how to be more efficient, so you can dive deeper, longer and more comfortably.”

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