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  • Writer's pictureByron Kay @konafreediver

Don't Waste your Money on a Freediving Course

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

In 2009 freediving training was a small and growing industry with agencies like PFI and FII creating the market. Fast forward to today and new freediving courses are popping up regularly with most of the major scuba diving training agencies offering their own versions of freediving training. As the SCUBA industry continues to shrink, training agencies such as PADI, NAUI and SSI are looking to freediving to enliven their dwindling certification count. With scuba instructors becoming freediving instructors at a rapidly increasing rate the options for courses will continue to grow.


"Imagine trying to learn jiu-jitsu or ballet by watching youtube videos! That would be crazy right?"


2 divers ascend on a freediving line towards the surface of the ocean
A freediving instructor follows his student up to the surface checking for good technique

SCUBA vs. Freediving Certification

The scuba industry grew rapidly in the 70's and 80's as the baby boomer generation matured and reached it's height in the 1990's. As certifications became more abundant the standards were gradually lowered over time due to the evidence of which practices actually lead to scuba diver deaths and ISO certification process which ensures a consistent and effective system for certification. This means safe divers get the least amount of instruction necessary to be safe and still be certified. As the scuba industry contracts certification agencies are looking to freediving to bolster their course offerings and teach a new generation of divers.

Scuba certification has always been required to rent tanks and acts as a limiting factor on who can and can't dive. Freediving certification however only acts as a limiting factor in your coolness. All joking aside it is often the case that other certified freedivers will refuse to put their lives in the hands of a novice untrained freediver. It takes one poorly handled shallow water blackout to render a freediving certification priceless. Furthermore, freediving is based on the diver's ability to perform underwater while in scuba diving most of the burden is placed on the gear which allows most people to dive very comfortably without as much exertion. As both a scuba and freediving instructor I feel the scuba certification focuses on how to handle your gear and the freediving certification focuses on how to handle your body. A freediving course will help to adjust your behavior underwater to improve you performance. This will allow you to dive deeper for longer.

Internet Freedivers

The internet contains an amazing array of knowledge (including this blog I guess) but what it can't offer is another human who can be there to coach you and give you feedback. Imagine trying to learn jiu-jitsu or ballet by watching youtube videos! That would be crazy right? It's even more important in freediving because there isn't a mirror to practice in front of. Your instuctor is there to give you impartial feedback on your performance and to help dial in your diving. Sometimes people don't even realize what they are doing wrong until they hear it from an instructor.

"Imagine trying to learn jiu-jitsu or ballet by watching youtube videos! That would be crazy right?"

Not all instructors are created equal

Since your class time is valuable it's imperative that the short time you have in the water is used effectively. This means getting the right feedback from the instructor in the right order. A good instructor will target your weaknesses and address them appropriately to guide you towards a more successful dive. Agencies like Fii (Freediving Instructors international) have some of the highest standards for becoming a freediving instructor. This means it's not easy to become one and the result is a higher quality of training.

Which freediving agency is best?

As a PADI, NAUI, SSI scuba center teaching all 3 of the major agencies in the USA we at Kona Freedivers and Kona Honu Divers have chosen to go a different route. Freediving Instructors Internatioanal (FII) and Performance Freediving International (PFI) were founded as freediving only agencies and were built with only freediving in mind by world class freedivers with over a decade of experience teaching and competing in freediving. We prefer to teach FII and PFI for their rigorous standards which require our instructors to meet strict requirements. It's these high standards that support a high quality freediving education system which ensures the student receives the most value for their time and money.

Rogue Freediving Instructors

Some people will call themselves freediving instructors but do not have any agency backing. This is akin to you or I calling ourselves doctors because we like to help people who are sick. These people can fall short in their instructional ability. Another type of rogue is the ex-agency instructor. They have often been stripped of their teaching status due to their breach of the agency's standards. As you might imagine this can be a problem due to a lack of quality control. Some independent freediving instructors will even have records or other accolades to their name that seem to make them an authority in the sport. Taking a class from them can be a serious mixed bag with very few of them offering course materials like a manual and none of them offering an actual valid internationally recognized certification.

This level 1 freediving course is in Kona, Hawaii

Why do I care if I'm freedive certified?

There's a number of reasons, like learning to dive deeper, with more bottom time, while increasing your breath hold, but primarily it's due to safety. If you are certified your buddy knows you can safety them and vice versa. Another reason might be if you'd like to go on a freediving charter with us we require proof of certification. As a certified freediver we can confidently provide you with weights, an experienced instructor as a guide, and the freediving equipment necessary to dive safely and expertly. As an uncertified diver you may get dirty looks or the cold shoulder from others depth training or when looking to do some fun reef diving. Lastly, it's a way to break through your weaknesses and improve your diving ability without wasting your time trying to figure it out for yourself. I personally spent 2 years with only a 20m improvement to show for it. If I could go back I would have taken a level 2 course and dramatically reduced the time it took me to improve my diving.

What a credible freediving class includes

A freediving course should always include these things:

  • An instructor with insurance that is in current good standing with a training agency

  • A Training Manual

  • An academic classroom portion to the class with an exam at the end

  • Requirements that the diver must meet to pass the course

  • A valid certification card for proof of certification

  • The opportunity to re-take the course without having to pay again (our policy)

What certification means

Once you are certified depending on your level you should be able to achieve a given depth. If the course does not require you to meet certain standards beware of a rogue instructor! Here are all of the major freediving training agency standards in the United States. Note that the progression is often very different based on the agency.

Learning vs. Certification

Ask yourself. What is your priority when taking a freediving course? Are you there to learn something and improve your freediving technique or are you there to get a certification card? While the certification card can have different meanings to different people, ultimately it's you who reaps the benefits from the knowledge gained in a freediving course leading to better outcomes in your diving. Use your time wisely and take all of the feedback from your instructor and work hard to apply it in the course. Afterwards use any opportunity you get to cement the knowledge into your habits by practicing what you learned. It's that simple.

Return Policy

Kona Freedivers offers students the unique chance to return and retake the course for free. This means if you start but cannot complete the course you can come back and finish later. It also means if you want to brush up on the skills you learned you can come back and retake any part of the course again. Sign up for a freediving course with us today!

Specialty Freediving Courses

Many freediving specialty courses exist but few come with actual certifications and even fewer are offered by legitimate agencies. FII offers waterman survival training for big wave surfer types and is the only agency to offer a spearfishing certification course.


Is it worth doing a freediving course?

It depends. If you love the water and love snorkeling and plan to do more of it then you will probably benefit greatly from a freediving class.

How long does it take to become a freediver?

The level 1 freediving course takes two days to complete.

How much is freediving lessons?

$300 - $400 dollars or more is a common price for a freediving class. Prices vary by location and quality of training.

What is a freediving course?

An all-in-one way to uplevel your freediving skills and understanding. Go from a competent snorkeler to a deeper, safeer, and more efficient diver.

Is freediving an expensive hobby?

It depends but if you stay close to home and get a basic set of gear it will generally cost around $500 - $700 for gear and $400 for a course.

How deep can a beginner freediver go?

If you're able to equalize it's common for new freedivers to dive 50-60 feet by the end of a class.

Can you make money freediving?

A freediving instructor gets paid to teach freediving. Some of the most successful instructors will travel around the world teaching.


About the Author

Byron Kay is a freediving instructor and the founder of Kona Freedivers and owner of Kona Honu Divers as well as Kona Snorkel Trips. They stand out as Hawaii's top rated and most reviewed businesses among their peers having a perfect 5 star rating on google. To learn more about Byron and his latest goings on visit his bio page.

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