Freediving and scuba diving. Why you should do both!

In some diving circles there is a lighthearted rivalry between freedivers and scuba divers… A debate of which sport is more impressive, more fun, or which is harder to master. Whether you are a freediver or a scuba diver, there is one thing we can all agree on: That exploring the ocean is super fun! So learning more ways in which to do that can only add to the fun, right?

We think that divers, both bubbly and bubble-less, should join forces and see what the other has to offer. Because you might be surprised by how many ways learning to scuba dive could help you as a freediver… and vice versa. So here are our reasons why we think you should learn both freediving AND scuba diving.

Similarities between freediving and scuba diving

Freediving and scuba diving have quite a few similarities:

  • Both are great ways to explore the ocean, check out wrecks, swim alongside marine life, and see coral reefs up close.
  • Both can be calming, relaxing, and meditative.
  • Both have excellent communities that can bring lifelong friendships born from a shared passion.
  • Both help to keep you in good physical shape.
  • Both bring unique opportunities on vacations worldwide and are a good excuse to travel to new places.
  • When you learn to freedive or scuba dive, there are many more courses, specialties, and skills to discover in the future. The learning never ends!

What makes freediving and scuba diving unique?

Despite their similarities, there are quite a few aspects that make freediving and scuba diving unique:

  • Freediving requires you to hold your breath underwater (this is the most obvious difference).
  • Scuba diving allows you to breathe underwater, without needing to come to the surface.


  • Freediving requires less equipment, making it more convenient when traveling light.
  • Scuba diving requires more than just a mask, snorkel, and fins. However, usually this can be rented on vacation.


  • When freediving you do not have to worry about No Decompression Limits (unless you dive extremely deep). So you do not have to worry about freediving before a flight.
  • When scuba diving your body takes on nitrogen, which means you need time to "off-gas" before flying (12hours after one dive or 18hours after two dives).


  • When freediving you have less time to look around as you have to come up regularly for air.
  • Scuba diving allows you to stay underwater for up to around an hour. You can stop in one spot and watch marine life for a while.


  • You are much less likely to experience decompression sickness while freediving. You are taking on some nitrogen but only with multiple dives to deeper depths. Most freedivers do not have to worry about nitrogen. Check with a freediving instructor for official rules on this if you are worried.
  • The nitrogen you take on when scuba diving can create bubbles if you miss your safety stop, or come up too fast. This can lead to decompression sickness. However it is unlikely if you follow the correct safety procedures.


  • Freediving can be trickier when it comes to equalizing your ears, this is because you have less time to stop and keep trying if your ears get stuck.
  • When scuba diving, you are not upside down, you can take more air when needed, and you can stay at a particular depth to equalize, until you are ready to descend further. This makes equalizing much simpler.


  • There are no bubbles when freediving which can be beneficial when getting up close to marine life.
  • Unless you go on to learn technical diving, you will be breathing out bubbles with every exhale, this can be scary for marine life.


  • Freediving allows more range of movement in the water, you can move faster and change depths.
  • Scuba diving tends to involve much slower movements, staying at the same depth for the majority of the dive. This can mean longer to look around, but can be limiting, too.


  • Freediving relies heavily on relaxation. The more relaxed you can become before diving, the longer you will be able to stay under for, and the nicer the dive will feel.
  • You need to be fairly relaxed to enjoy scuba diving, but there is more room for nerves and tension in the body.

Although there are some big differences between freediving and scuba diving. Learning to do both can cross over some helpful tips:

What can scuba divers learn from freediving?

  • Some freedivers are nervous, not knowing what might be deep under the water. This can affect their relaxation. Learning to scuba dive can help freedivers become familiar with the underwater world, they can look around for a long time and see what is there.
  • Learning to freedive can give freedivers a better understanding and appreciation of marine life, as they get to watch fish and marine mammals for a much longer time.
  • Learning to scuba dive can give a new activity to enjoy on vacation. It can allow freedivers to have a better look around a dive site that they can only see part of with freediving.

Want to learn freediving? Check out the SSI Freediving Level 1 course where you will learn all about how to freedive as a beginner.

Learn to Freedive: 9 Reasons Why Freediving is the Perfect Hobby (

What can freedivers learn from scuba diving?

  • Learning to freedive can bring more meditation, relaxation, and peace to scuba divers. They can bring this to their scuba diving. Being more relaxed while scuba diving can improve air consumption.
  • Freedivers often introduce stretching or yoga to their daily routine. This can improve flexibility and allow them to move better underwater. Scuba divers can become more flexible and physically strong if they take up freediving.
  • Learning to freedive can give scuba divers a water activity to enjoy on the last day of their vacation, when they have to fly and therefore cannot scuba dive.

Want to learn scuba diving? Check out the SSI Open Water Diver course; the first official certification to start off your scuba diving journey.

How Learning to Scuba Dive will Change your Life (

Learning freediving and scuba diving together can double your underwater fun. But remember, it is okay to freedive before scuba diving, but it can be risky to freedive after scuba diving (due to nitrogen from the scuba dive not being off-gassed). If you would like to practice both on the same day, always freedive first and finish the day with your scuba dive.