From Saturday, March 19 – Saturday, March 26, ocean lovers from across the U.S. descended on Divetech’s dive shop and Lighthouse Point Dive Resort in Grand Cayman for a week-long freediving training camp in the clear, deep waters of Northwest Point. Freedivers hold their breath until resurfacing rather than using scuba gear during a dive, saying they enjoy being in the water in its purest form and in total freedom.
“It’s one of the fastest growing aspects of the dive industry,” said Nick Fazah of East Coast Divers in Boston, MA and SSI Freediving Training Director. He travels all over the world training freedivers and teaching classes, and teaming up with Divetech, Fazah organized his first training camp in the Cayman Islands, saying it won’t be his last.
Divetech’s Jo Mikutowicz, an avid freediver, agrees. “ “It’s a very quiet sport and it takes a lot of focus and concentration within yourself. As soon as you go below the surface of the sea everything is silent and your brain will want to give up before your body does, so mental focus is very important.”
All freedivers share a love of the ocean and a focus on conservation. 24 attendees came from Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona and California to spend the week sharpening their skills at an ideal location. The entire group stayed at Divetech’s Lighthouse Point Dive Resort just steps away from some of Grand Cayman’s best dive sites.
Training camp included pool work and classroom presentations at the dive shop, and a lot of time in deep water just offshore. The dive site is perfect for all training levels because after a short swim, divers reach a mini wall that starts at 40 feet and drops off to 65 feet, and then they can swim further out to the main wall that starts at 65 feet and drops off into the deep blue abyss. When the wind kicked up Divetech provided a dive boat to take the group to the calm side of the island.
Divetech has long promoted freediving, and hosting the camp with Nick Fazah has created a natural partnership to advance the sport.
“Divetech is awesome,” said Fazah. “Most of their dive instructors are very good freedivers and they are all active. Freedivers are part of a cool community of like-minded people who, regardless of their skill level, get along and help each other out. Everyone has very similar views on ocean conservation.”
Fazah says most attendees were recreational freedivers but there were also a number of dive professionals. All are working on the various forms of discipline for the sport, both physical and psychological, as they complete different levels of training from basic certification to instructor trainer level. Nutrition lessons were also included, and each day began with a yoga session in the warm Caribbean sun.
“Freediving is also a personal journey for people who want to explore what they are personally capable of in the natural underwater world,” he explains. “Yoga is about focusing on breathing and position of the body. Yoga is about looking within yourself and free diving is about a connection with the ocean, its very cool.”
“Everyone should try freediving because it is a very safe sport and really pushes your mind to overcome doubts,” agrees Jo Mikutowicz. “It’s a great way to explore the ocean in a different way and spend time underwater in a very silent world. People will be amazed at what their bodies are capable of.”
The training camp was such a success that it will become an annual event, and Mikutowicz says many of those in attendance were ready to put deposits down for next year’s event.
“There was a big mix of talent and everyone loved it!” said Fazah.
Divetech is an IANTD Platinum Facility / TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer Facility / PADI Resort / PADI TecRec Facility / PADI Project Aware Center / SSI Resort / IANTD & SSI Freediving Center / BSAC Resort / National Geographic Center/ Scuba Rangers Club / Universal Training Facility / PADI Swim School / DAN Technical Field Research Station full service dive operator with facilities at Lighthouse Point Dive Resort on Northwest Point Road in West Bay, located just a few miles north of the hustle and bustle of Seven Mile Beach. Considered one of Grand Cayman’s leading dive operations, Divetech has been providing quality dive services since 1994. Divetech has earned a reputation as the place to go in Grand Cayman for quality training from kids to trimix with 18 Instructors on staff.
Divetech offers great dive and room packages with its resort partners Lighthouse Point Dive Resort, Holiday Inn, Sunshine Suites, Grandview Condos and Shangri-la bed and breakfast.
Introducing two new Colours of OBLU resorts in the Maldives
COLOURS OF OBLU, a brand by Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, has opened two exciting new resorts in Male Atoll in the Maldives this year.
OBLU XPERIENCE Ailafushi opened in June. Translating from the Maldivian dialect of Dhivehi, ‘Aila’ means family and ‘Fushi’ means island, in essence, the Family Island. A 15-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport brings guests to this beautiful tropical island.
The four-star resort’s 268 villas and rooms are designed to experience nature at its best. A striking fleet of water villas shaped like dhonis are lined up along the jetty – a perfect spot for snapping some selfies. From the moment of arrival, a carefree and relaxed holiday unfolds with the generous Fushi Plan™. Dining, activities, a multi-level kids club with a pool and food corner, overwater gym, and live entertainment are all blended within the stay for a hassle-free holiday.
Sumptuous all-day dining options are available at the Element X Restaurant which serves modern Western, Central Asian, and Far Eastern cuisines. X360 Bar features a 1000 sqm infinity pool – one of the largest in the Maldives. Guests can enjoy unlimited orders of refreshing spirits, wines, and beer from the grab and go bar counter. Evenings come alive with enthralling music and party vibes at the bar’s dance floor. The Copper Pot Food Truck parked on the beach is perfect for an open-air dinner of choicest fresh seafood and meat grills that can be relished on the soft sandy beach beneath the starry sky.
Walk up to La Promenade located beside a channel that meanders across Ailafushi island. This picturesque walkway has cosy seating corners along with a wine boutique, souvenir shop, and café. There is so much to do here — lounge at the scenic overwater deck, sip a cup of coffee, and socialise with like-minded travellers. Experiential highlights also include The Dome, a futuristic 15-meter theatre and entertainment centre.
Sister resort OBLU SELECT Lobigili is an adults only property that opened in March. In the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, ‘Lobi’ means love and ‘Gili’ means island. Lobigili is, in essence, the island of love.
Blessed with verdant foliage, this five-star resort features 68 contemporary beach and water villas – all assuring gorgeous views of the turquoise-blue lagoon. With the resort’s exclusive Lobi PlanTM guests can immerse in a blissfully carefree stay. This generous plan includes specialty fine-dining, unlimited beverages, spa services, Indian Ocean excursions, a selection of non-motorised watersports as well as a fully stocked minibar replenished daily.
OBLU SELECT Lobigili continues with the brand’s tradition of exceptional fine dining, elevating the mealtime experience with playful and fun touches. At Ylang-Ylang, the All-Day Dining Restaurant, delectable world cuisine with intimate nooks for couples and a unique book corner are unmissable. The Swing Bar with itschilled out beachside vibe features chic hammocks, swings and a stunning infinity pool that is one of the largest in the Maldives. Evenings come alive with handcrafted, aromatised cocktails and hypnotic DJ and Live Band performances.
That is not all. There is Gaadiya 17 Food Truck serving grab-and-go game meat grills to be relished in a fun, open-air setting on the beach under starry skies. And an exotic ONLY BLU Underwater Restaurant, one of the largest underwater restaurants in the country, where guests can experience impeccable modern gourmet cuisine.
A standout experience is ELE | NA The Spa – designed exclusively for couples and adults – featuring locally inspired spa treatments including Lobi Dhooni (Love Bird) Hithun Hithath (Heart To Heart) and Dhekanbalun (You & Me).
Scuba Diving from both resorts is with OBLU’s partner dive centre, TGI Maldives, one of the best-known in the country. The dive centre teaches a variety of PADI and SSI courses. The island’s house reef is perfect for relaxed dives, snorkeling and training, whilst many of North Male Atoll’s best dive sites are just a short boat ride away. In particular, the atoll is well-known for its manta ray sightings from May to October.
Discover more at www.coloursofoblu.com
SSI releases new Explorers program for kids
SSI has announced the release of the SSI Explorers Program, where kids aged 6-11 years old can get a taste of the many ways to explore the aquatic world around them. This exciting program makes diving for kids stress-free, guiding them in engaging underwater adventures where they can scuba dive, act like a real mermaid, and go underwater on a single breath with freediving. SSI has invested much time and energy into re-vamping this child-centered experience program.
Formerly known as Scuba Rangers, the new SSI Explorers Program is today’s most extensive aquatic experience program for kids in the dive industry. Children who have not yet reached the minimum age for scuba diving will not only gain a solid foundation in ocean conservation, but they will have the opportunity to experience four main aquatic adventures and many specialties.
Your young aquatic explorer will join Emma and Nico on exciting underwater adventures with their marine friends, Star the starfish, Shelly the sea turtle, and Spike the shark. The comprehensive children’s manual is very engaging, with colourful cartoon drawings and authentic ocean images for this young audience. Emma and Nico guide children throughout the manual’s educational content in a fun and engaging way, using Spike as their equipment expert and Shelly as the ocean environment advocate.
The SSI Explorers materials start by introducing children to the importance of protecting and preserving our oceans by becoming a Blue Oceans Explorer. After learning why our oceans are important, about the world’s five oceans, and what they can do to help protect our oceans, students earn the SSI Blue Oceans Explorer recognition rating. They can then move on to learn all there is to know about snorkel equipment and snorkelling in a confined water environment to earn their Snorkel Explorer rating.
After completing these two initial experiences, SSI Explorers can choose from one of three aquatic adventures and either become a Scuba Explorer, Mermaid Explorer, or Freediving Explorer. Better yet, they can continue on to earn all three ratings!
SSI Mermaid Explorers get to swim around like real mermaids while improving their swimming skills. SSI Freediving Explorers will go underwater and dive deeper by holding their breath longer in an encouraging, relaxed environment. Explorers who have not met the minimum age for scuba diving can try it out within the safety of a pool or confined water and become an SSI Scuba Explorer.
The fun doesn’t stop there, however! SSI Explorers can go on even more underwater adventures to earn 22 different Specialty Explorer ratings. They can improve their explorer skills with exciting specialties like Underwater Model Explorer, Rescue Explorer, Shark Ecology Explorer, and Search & Rescue Explorer, just to name a few. Your child can earn the Specialty Explorer recognition rating by completing two Explorer specialties. When they complete four specialties, they will become Advanced Explorers, and after completing the Rescue Explorer specialty, they can become a Master Explorer. SSI Explorers will even be able to earn real C-Cards just like their parents to show off their hard-earned recognition ratings.
To look back on their explorer fun, SSI has included a logbook section toward the back of the colourfully engaging SSI Explorers manual. The Explorer Logbook is where students can record details of their underwater adventures as they work through these exciting experiences. Near the logbook, SSI has also included an area for the Explorer Instructor to place an SSI recognition sticker specific to each completed explorer activity. Children will be excited to work toward earning them all!
The SSI Explorers program is now available as a book or digitally in four languages: German, English, Spanish, and Italian, with more languages hopefully coming soon.
Training the next generation of ocean lovers and aquatic enthusiasts is very important to SSI and all SSI Training Centres and Pros. The SSI Explorers Program is an excellent way to promote ocean conservation and aquatic safety in our younger population and prepare them for future open water certification opportunities once they reach the minimum age for scuba diving.
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