Chris Cheung, president of the Hong Kong Freediving Association, is an advocate for the sport, but he's also an advocate for experiencing the sport safely. Here are his recommendations for where to go to try freediving if you're a beginning. But remember there are rules and precautions, so make sure you know everything you should know about this fun and challenging activity before diving in.
Little Palm Beach at Clearwater Bay
The water here is about three to four metres deep and with a sandy bottom. There is barely any current, making it the perfect condition for beginners to practise theirs skills. The downside is it is only accessible by taxi or private car, and there are few car spaces there, so plan ahead!
Hoi Ha Bay
Due to the beautiful and extremely rich biodiversity, this is a protected area. There are 60 species of hard coral and 120 species of coral fish in Hoi Ha Bay. In fact, in certain spots, coral coverage reaches around 70%, and the waters can be up to 10 metres deep. This makes it a great spot for beginners to practise their descent: there is the necessary depth and a great incentive!
You can reach Hoi Ha Bay by taking the No.7 minibus (from Sai Kung town to Hoi Ha village), No.94 bus (from Sai Kung Pier to Wong Shek Pier) or the ferry (from Wong Shek Pier to Nam Fung Wan).
Tung Ping Chau
Tung Ping Chau is an island on the periphery of Hong Kong territory, only 4km off the coast of Shenzhen but 25km from Ma Liu Shui pier in Hong Kong. The waters at Tung Ping Chau is a marine park to preserve the rich biodiversity present. The coral reef at Tung Ping Chau is one of the best in Hong Kong with coral coverage of around 60%, and the water is also up to 10 metres deep in areas.
The waters are calm because it is sheltered by a bay, and there is a ferry between Ma Liu Shui pier and Tung Ping Chau. A one-way trip is around an hour and 40 minutes though, so plan to go a little earlier to make the best use of the sun.
The waters at Sharp island are around three to four metres deep, again, with lots of coral to admire. There are also different sites to choose from if sandy bottoms are what you prefer. The location is also sheltered from the wind, which means the waters are very calm. Perfect for newbies. If you're lucky, local seahorses and octopi may come say "hi"! To go to Sharp island, board a kaito (a small motorised ferry) at Sai Kung public pier.
Tung Lung Island
The water at Tung Lung Island is around three to four metres deep as well and also boasts coral reefs. But because it is not sheltered, the current can be pretty strong due to winds from the sea, making it a great spot to test those who aren't complete noobs. It's great training for freediving in open oceans, too.
Equipment for free diving beginners:
- A freediving Mask
- Plastic fins ($700 - $800. Carbon fins for professionals cost around $1,500 to $2,000. Monofins can cost up to $3,000)
- Snorkel (Around $150)
- Wetsuit (Around $2,000, and both scuba and freediving wetsuits are suitable.)
Most freediving schools provide rented equipment.