Travel Review: Training at Freedive HQ in Cebu, Philippines

The Location

There aren’t many freediving locations just a short ride from the airport. Freedive HQ is one of those locations close to an abyss that drops just a few meters from shore. That’s the Hilutungan Channel, immediately east off the coast of Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines.

Freedive HQ is located where land meets the precipice of pure endless depth.

Tucked away in its own little beach, Freedive HQ is a haven where divers come to relax and focus on training. Just 50 meters from shore, a vertical drop gives to hundreds of meters of depth.

About Freedive HQ

Thibault Guignes took over the school in 2015, after falling in love with the diving conditions and the ease of access to depth. Traveling to Cebu is also pretty easy. It has one of the busiest airports in the Philippines, with several domestic and direct international flights daily. Getting to Freedive HQ was hassle free; I could’ve put on my wetsuit while waiting for the luggage.

Thibault traveled to several locations including Indonesia, Thailand and Vanuatu before settling in the Philippines. A decision he has never regretted.  Cebu may be a large metropolitan, but most of the areas on Mactan Island feel like little towns and country sides. The  Cebuanos and people of the Central Visayas are so friendly and welcoming. I could walk at any time of the day  in search of Filipino delicacies and fine food without the slightest sense of danger.

The Alchemy V3-30 freediving fins enjoying an evening sunset from the yoga platform at Freedive HQ in Cebu, Philippines. Photo by Sea to Sky Freediving.

The Facility

Freedive HQ is very well setup and designed with freedivers in mind. Thatched roof gazebos for yoga, a dining area overlooking the water and shaded lounge chairs to take afternoon siestas. They plan to expand the headquarters further with a 25-meter two-lane pool and climbing area for rest days. Freedive HQ will be ready for any style of freediving competition quite soon!

From beginner to advanced, they’re fully prepared with an impressive inventory of equipment. Paddleboards and bikes for free use, twice-daily boat dives and a lunch menu with fabulous local dishes. The food ready just as you slip out of your wetsuit!

Such a beautiful location is not immune to the mass tourism, rapid expansion and the detriment that follows. The walls dividing the beach properties, plastic that floats by with the current and the jet-skis ripping by the shores. Unfortunately, these are things that plague many dive sites around the world.

The Team

Where Freedive HQ really stands out is the access to depth for current diving and the amazing crew that works there. I visited for a week to take part in the Master Freediver Training. I could’ve easily stayed for a month or two.

The team of instructors that work there not only perform their duties with the highest safety standards, they’re also people that are very passionate about what they do, and it resonates throughout the entire school.

Freedive HQ has an organized energy of people that are clearly happy to show up for work.

A day out training on the line with some members from Freedive HQ. Although the open water channel gets quite a lot of boat traffic, the depth is endless and makes for excellent drift diving. Photo by Sea to Sky Freediving.

Freedivers of all backgrounds, senior instructors to beginner students, under one roof and sharing their passion for the sport. I came for training and teaching instruction, but left with far more than I had expected. Ashtanga Yoga at sunset, lung stretching in the morning, or afternoon dry training. There’s always something to do, and someone to do it with.

A moment I will always remember is sunset paddle-boarding with some of the instructors and a few San Miguel Pilsners. Trying to fight the current as we drifted together joined chaotically by only hands and feet.

There are far more beautiful, off-the-beaten track and remote places to freediving. However, if you’re looking for a spectacular place in the Philippines to focus on your training and have a fabulous team ready to support you; I highly recommend you put Freedive HQ on your map.

Read it on The Freedive Wire

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