Freedive the Canary Islands

Learn freediving while enjoying a week on the UNESCO-listed island of El Hierro, Europe’s most famous dive site. 5 days off work.

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REF: 08784

Freedive the Canary Islands

Learn freediving while enjoying a week on the UNESCO-listed island of El Hierro, Europe’s most famous dive site. 5 days off work.

Experience the weightlessness,freedom and deep relaxation of diving without SCUBA equipment. Recreational freediving is all about connecting with nature and having fun, not about breaking depth records. Spend a week on the remote island of El Hierro while earning your AIDA1 and AIDA2 certifications, and spend your free time exploring the island’s many natural wonders. Your week away from it all includes:

  • 6 nights of accommodation in a private apartment in La Caleta
  • 5 days of freediving instruction (approx. ten 90-minute sessions)
  • AIDA1 and AIDA2 certification (AIDA3 on request)
  • Rental car with full insurance for the duration of your stay
  • Equipment rental for the duration of your stay
  • All certification fees and course materials
  • Digital copies of underwater photos taken by your guide
  • Diving insurance

Perfect for:
This is the perfect week-long island holiday for active travellers who enjoy learning something new. No SCUBA or freediving experience needed.

What to Expect

Wednesday: Arrival and briefing

Arrive in La Caleta on the remote island of El Hierro in the evening.

Your host will pick you up and take you to your apartment. Settle in, then discuss the itinerary over coffee before heading into town for dinner.

Thursday – Monday: Freediving course and island vacation

Wake up in an island paradise, then walk just 300m to the beautiful outdoor pools or to the sea to work on skills.

You have two or three sessions each day to learn freediving theory and to practice pool and open water skills.

You’ll work on breathing techniques, body positioning, water rescue, static apnea, and staying relaxed while exploring the underwater world.

Between freediving sessions you’re completely free to explore the island in your rental car discovering endless hiking trails.

You can choose to hike El Hierro’s many volcanoes, explore the famous forests of wind-sculpted junipers, try paragliding, or swim in natural pools and caves.

Return to your private apartment in the evening to cook dinner, or wander through town to find a local restaurant.

Tuesday: Departure

Your host will take you to the airport or ferry port when it’s time to leave.

Return home with your AIDA1 and AIDA2 certificates, and tons of stories and photos to share with your friends.

Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, weather conditions and forecasts, special events, etc.

Accommodation

You’ll stay in a locally managed apartment in the town of La Caleta. The specific apartment depends on availability, but all options are private, clean, and located within 300m of the sea and dive training site. The apartments feature 2 bedrooms with 2 beds each, a living area, kitchen, washing machine, and terrace with sunrise ocean views.

Dates & Prices

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

Trip Photos

Location

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El Hierro is the smallest and southernmost of the Canary Islands (pop. 10,000, area 269 square kilometers). Up until Columbus sailed to the New World, El Hierro was considered The End of the World. Today the island still feels very remote and peaceful, but is also home to many restaurants, bars and markets.

La Caleta is a very small town (pop. 300) of colorful second homes. One of La Caleta’s best features is the cluster of sky-blue swimming pools right on the rocky coast. You may use the pools for some of your freediving training before heading into the ocean.

More than 60% of the island became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000. The listing helps preserve the island’s unique flora, fauna and landscapes. While the coasts are dry and barren, the center of El Hierro (1500m) is verdant with meadows, wildflowers, and forests of pines and gnarled, twisted junipers.

As a dive site, El Hierro is widely regarded as a top-notch destination with some of the best and most reliable visibility (30m plus) in the world. The Mar de las Calmas marine reserve protects unique volcanic landscapes and an abundance of marine life, including lobsters, octopus, seahorses, corals, anemones, parrotfish, groupers, triggerfish, rays and eels. Seasonal visitors to El Hierro include manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins and turtles.

Start point?
You will be picked up any time on Wednesday at the El Hierro seaport or airport, depending on your plans. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Finish point?
You will be dropped off on Tuesday at the El Hierro seaport or airport, depending on your plans. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Getting there and away?
Given its remote location, El Hierro take a few connections to get to—but it’s worth the effort!

Option 1: Fly to Gran Canaria, fly to El Hierro
Step 1—Fly to Gran Canaria: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Airport (LPA) is served by regular, inexpensive flights from mainland Europe. Please schedule your flight to arrive by 14:00.

Step 2—Fly to El Hierro: There’s only one daily flight between the islands, so plan accordingly (https://www.bintercanarias.com/eng). On Wednesdays the flight leaves Gran Canaria at 15:20 and arrives in El Hierro (VDE) at 16:15. A one-way flight costs ~EUR 110.

The return flight on Tuesday departs El Hierro at 16:40, arriving on Gran Canaria at 17:30.
Feel free to contact you local host if you find cheaper flights a day earlier or later.

Option 2: Fly to Tenerife, ferry to El Hierro
Step 1—Fly to Tenerife: Tenerife South Airport (TFS) is served by regular, inexpensive flights from mainland Europe. Schedule your flight to arrive by 18:30 so you don’t miss the last ferry to El Hierro.

Step 2—Transfer to Cristianos: Catch a cab in front of the airport and get dropped off at the port of Cristianos (20 minutes, EUR 20-30).

Step 3—Ferry to El Hierro: The ferry operator is Naviera Armas (www.navieraarmas.com). Tickets cost approximately EUR 99 roundtrip.

The ferry leaves Wednesdays at 07:55 and 20:15, arriving in El Hierro 2 hours 45 minutes later.

Returning to Tenerife on Tuesday, the ferry leaves El Hierro at 14:00 and arrives in Cristianos at 16:30, so schedule your return flight to depart no earlier than 18:30.
Please contact you local host if you find cheaper flights a day earlier or later.

Notes:
It’s also possibly to fly to Tenerife then fly to El Hierro, but you would have to change airports on Tenerife, and that takes 3 hours. It can be a great option, too, so definitely look into it.

You can get any flights that suit you, but make sure they fit the times above so you don’t miss any connections. We will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances such as erupting Icelandic volcanoes, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

Frequently Asked Questions

Freediving is the sport of diving and swimming while relying on your own breath control. You may have seen competitive freediving on TV, where divers use weights to plunge hundreds of meters down, but that’s a completely different sport than recreational freediving. Recreational freediving isn’t about how deep you dive, it’s about how much fun you have!

Freediving is a very calm, peaceful and elegant sport. You use breath control and body positioning techniques to swim underwater with comfort and ease, using the time to explore the sea floor, investigate schools of fish, or simply enjoy the sensation of weightlessness.

As long as you’re always diving with a buddy, there’s a very low risk of injury. At worst you might experience cold chills or discomfort in your ears.

Your guide is Karsten, an AIDA and SSI certified freediving instructor. He is especially interested in the meditative aspect of freediving, and is even a meditation trainer. Karsten loves to share his freediving knowledge and passion with others.

Freediving is suitable for anyone who can swim for at least 10 minutes. No particular level of fitness is needed, nor do you need any previous SCUBA or snorkeling experience. You will need to complete a pre-trip medical statement to make sure you don’t have any conditions that would prevent you from freediving safely.

The International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA) sets the international standards for freediving.

AIDA1 is the introductory certification level that only takes a day to complete. The focus of AIDA1 is gaining confidence in water and learning the basics of freediving techniques, equipment and safety.

AIDA2 takes your freediving to the next level. You’ll learn advanced breathing techniques, water rescue skills, dive accuracy and more. At the end of the course almost all students are able to hold your breath for 2+ minutes, swim underwater for 40m, and dive to depths of 16 – 20m.

If you’re already a certified freediver, AIDA3 training can be arranged on request.

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Travel to/from El Hierro (Please contact you local host if you find cheaper flights a day earlier or later.)
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Optional activities
  • Food and drinks

This trip is aimed at very small groups, and will run with a minimum of 2 people, and a maximum of 3. Please note, if there are not 2 people booked the trip may be rearranged or cancelled.

Visitors to the Canary Islands are often surprised by the high quality of the food. Many ingredients are produced locally, including vegetables grown in the rich volcanic soil, and fish and shellfish caught in the surrounding waters.

You’re sure to encounter papas arrugadas, small potatoes served in a sauce of garlic, olive oil, vinegar, herbs and spices. Thick vegetable and meat soups are also common. Main courses include grilled fresh-caught fish, calamari, prawns, and a variety of meats served roasted or stewed. The islands also produce award-winning wines.

Most restaurants have one or two vegetarian options on the menu, but vegan food is harder to come by.

Your apartment includes a full kitchen, and there are several grocery stores on the island, including two natural food stores, so you should be able to cook for any diet.

El Hierro has a subtropical desert climate, meaning it’s hot and dry all year. From April to October temperatures average 16 – 29 °C, with record highs exceeding 40 °C. Rain is almost unheard of in the summer. From November to March temperatures average 14 – 24 °C, and it’s sunny nearly every day.

Your host will supply all the freediving equipment, but if you have any of your own gear you’re welcome to bring it. Freediving equipment includes:

  • Wetsuit
  • Mask (special freediving masks are best)
  • Snorkel
  • Fins
  • Weight belt

Pack for a variety of conditions so you can explore every side of the island. Recommended items include:

  • Hiking shoes
  • Comfortable, breathable shirts and trousers/shorts
  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses and sunblock)
  • Windbreaker
  • Water bottle
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Small backpack for carrying personal items on dayhikes
  • Driver’s license for the rental car
  • Minimum 8GB SD card or USB stick for copies of photos

Start point?
You will be picked up any time on Wednesday at the El Hierro seaport or airport, depending on your plans. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Finish point?
You will be dropped off on Tuesday at the El Hierro seaport or airport, depending on your plans. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Getting there and away?
Given its remote location, El Hierro take a few connections to get to—but it’s worth the effort!

Option 1: Fly to Gran Canaria, fly to El Hierro
Step 1—Fly to Gran Canaria: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Airport (LPA) is served by regular, inexpensive flights from mainland Europe. Please schedule your flight to arrive by 14:00.

Step 2—Fly to El Hierro: There’s only one daily flight between the islands, so plan accordingly (https://www.bintercanarias.com/eng). On Wednesdays the flight leaves Gran Canaria at 15:20 and arrives in El Hierro (VDE) at 16:15. A one-way flight costs ~EUR 110.

The return flight on Tuesday departs El Hierro at 16:40, arriving on Gran Canaria at 17:30.
Feel free to contact you local host if you find cheaper flights a day earlier or later.

Option 2: Fly to Tenerife, ferry to El Hierro
Step 1—Fly to Tenerife: Tenerife South Airport (TFS) is served by regular, inexpensive flights from mainland Europe. Schedule your flight to arrive by 18:30 so you don’t miss the last ferry to El Hierro.

Step 2—Transfer to Cristianos: Catch a cab in front of the airport and get dropped off at the port of Cristianos (20 minutes, EUR 20-30).

Step 3—Ferry to El Hierro: The ferry operator is Naviera Armas (www.navieraarmas.com). Tickets cost approximately EUR 99 roundtrip.

The ferry leaves Wednesdays at 07:55 and 20:15, arriving in El Hierro 2 hours 45 minutes later.

Returning to Tenerife on Tuesday, the ferry leaves El Hierro at 14:00 and arrives in Cristianos at 16:30, so schedule your return flight to depart no earlier than 18:30.
Please contact you local host if you find cheaper flights a day earlier or later.

Notes:
It’s also possibly to fly to Tenerife then fly to El Hierro, but you would have to change airports on Tenerife, and that takes 3 hours. It can be a great option, too, so definitely look into it.

You can get any flights that suit you, but make sure they fit the times above so you don’t miss any connections. We will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances such as erupting Icelandic volcanoes, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

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