The Complete Guide To Freediving And Training In Utila

Have you heard of Utila? It’s an island in Honduras and it’s home to a cool little town on the waterfront! Picture hammocks strung up on docks, a relaxed, low-key vibe, friendly locals, colorful houses, ice-cold beers enjoyed over the water, coral reefs, and mangroves. The Caribbean Sea is warm and bright blue, the pace is unhurried, and the living (and diving) is easy. If you’re looking for a chilled-out place for your next freediving course or some fun diving, this could be it! Sheena McNally, a regular freediver out there, explains. Getting There You can fly into either San Pedro Sula (SAP) on the mainland, or to the neighboring island of Roatan (RTB). From either airport, you can take local flights with CM Airlines to Utila's airport (schedules vary—check directly with the airline). You can also travel over land and sea. From San Pedro Sula, catch a bus (Transportes Cristina) for just a few dollars to the coastal city of La Ceiba. Then, take the Utila Dream Ferry to the island. From Roatan, take a taxi to the Utila Dream Ferry and enjoy an easy 1-hour journey to Utila. Accommodation Apartments are plentiful, and the best place to see what's available is a Facebook group called Utila Buy & Sell. Make a post with details of what you're looking for (AC? Hot water? Hammocks?) and locals will respond. Prices vary depending on what amenities you need and how near to the waterfront you want to be, budget $300-$700 per month (note that most long-term rentals will not include electricity). You can find short-term rentals on the same Facebook group. Food The restaurant scene in Utila has improved over the last few years, and something that makes the island unique is that there are no chain stores or fast food businesses! You can find everything from baleadas (the cheap and hearty local staple) to pizza to sushi to schnitzel! For Italian, try Mango Tango in Sandy Bay (home-made pasta with delicious sauces). Argentinian restaurant Che Pancho features some of the best value for the money in the middle of town. Pizza Nut serves up hot thin-crust pizzas from 5:30 p.m. (delivery available). A newer addition with some tasty sushi and Asian-inspired dishes is Mister Buddha in Sandy Bay. The Utila Brewing Company has a selection of Honduran craft beer and delicious burritos, tacos, loaded fries, and more (including a burger night on Fridays). For something sweet, take a short trip to the outskirts of town to visit the Utila Chocolate Co.—get a brownie or blondie with delicious home-made ice cream! There are many more options—check the local Facebook groups for opening hours and nightly specials. For those who prefer to cook, there are plenty of small supermarkets and a few veggie stands. Bush's and Mermaids are two of the bigger markets, while Caribbean Mini Market is stocking an increasing number of hard-to-find products. Training Freedive Utila is the island's freediving center, and is also the first freediving school in Central America. Long-running and highly rated, the center runs daily boat diving sessions to a variety of dive sites, including private moorings in deeper waters, and the Halliburton shipwreck (a dive site that offers the possibility of multiple swim-throughs). All gear is included with fun/training dives, and divers can expect to be sharing buoys with members of Freedive Utila's excellent and experienced team. The center specializes in freediving education, offering a full range of courses from beginner through to instructor, and a monofin specialty course. It also has a guesthouse on-site, with both dorm-style and private rooms, a shared kitchen, and a beautiful 2-storey dock where you can watch the sunset each night.The Caribbean Sea features warm waters, good visibility, and little current. Utila is suitable for divers working up to 70m—certain months have calmer wind conditions, allowing more frequent access to deeper sites (check with Freedive Utila for best advice). For deeper divers, the neighboring island of Roatan has more depth—check out Roatan Freediving School and Training Center, the hosts of the annual Caribbean Cup International Freediving Competition. Other Activities There are a few reefs accessible from shore. Coral View boasts a lovely house reef riddled with gorgeous sea fans. Buy a drink at the bar, leave your belongings, and enjoy—you might even see an eagle ray or two! Neptune's makes for a fun day trip—catch their private boat from their dock in Blue Bayou, enjoy a short ride through the mangroves, and spend the day lounging on the beach, enjoying the restaurant, or exploring the lovely reef.Other popular activities include scuba diving, kayaking through the mangroves (rent a kayak at Coral View and head north through a small channel in the lagoon—be sure to bring plenty of water), beach-going (Chepes is the free public beach, Bando is a well-maintained private beach with beach bar), and exploring the island's jungles and terrain on a rented ATV. You can enjoy refreshing freshwater caves (ask the locals for directions), or watch the sunrise from atop Pumpkin Hill (Utila's highest point). If exploring isn't your thing, simply relax and unwind in a hammock at one of the many bars or restaurants located over the water. Meet Alchemy ProSheena's Short Carbon Freediving Fins Of Choice
more

She Said Yes

Alchemy spearo Aaron Young, aka Key West Waterman, recently proposed to his girlfriend Madeline, and, naturally, he got the whole thing on video. Long story short, Aaron had a charter that was canceled, it was labor day weekend, and the weather was unbelievable; less than five mile an hour winds all day, no rain. They drove out to the Dry Tortugas, and with the help of a couple of his buddies - just to kind of help make it look natural - he set up the stage for an incredible marriage proposal. All The Best Guys! Meet Alchemy SAaron's Carbon Spearfishing Fins Of Choice
more

How Can Yoga Help With Freediving

The word yoga comes from the word ‘Yoke’ which means to unite or to connect.  Ultimately in freediving, we are creating that connection. We are connecting to our bodies, mind, and spirit. We connect to nature in the ocean or in lakes, cenotes or quarries. In a way, we are creating a deeper connection than that found on a yoga mat in a sterilized ‘yoga space’. So really, in essence, freediving is Yoga. When we come to practice the physical asana’s of yoga, it’s important to keep the same presence of mind and awareness of the body that we have in freediving. We can use the asana’s (postures) to better understand ourselves and where there may be deep-rooted tensions and discomforts in the body. Even in a very physical practice in which movement is consistent and flowing (such as in Vinyasa Flow), we should try to keep the heart rate low. Natalie Rudman, South Africa's deepest woman in CWTB, will break down two very different practices and some poses that can be used to benefit and to compliment freediving. The most important benefit of yoga to freediving is the flexibility of the lung cavity, of the intercostal muscles and diaphragm, so any poses that help this, can be the main focus of a practice. Yin Yoga Yin (passive, calming, moon energy) is the counter practice to the most common Yang (active, energetic, sun energy) practices of Hatha Yoga (traditional poses or asana’s) and Vinyasa Flow (sequence of poses strung together by movement). In Yin Yoga the poses are completely passive and there should be zero muscle engagement. In Yin Yoga we access the deeper connective tissues and the fascia that is the binding material of everything in the body. It’s best to use props, such as bolsters, pillows, and blocks in order to support the body in the practice and to make sure that no muscle is engaged in order to be “propped up”. In Yin Yoga we hold the poses for 5 minutes or longer, this is impossible to do with muscle engagement and also not good for you, so remember to always try to remain as relaxed as possible and to not tense. Also when coming into the pose, start in a very mild and passive stretch and allow your body the time to release and open naturally. Yin Yoga is good for teaching the mind presence and stillness. It may be the case in a few of the postures that over time the body wants to tense, and that is the time to cultivate deep relaxation and not allow the tension to travel to other parts of the body. Some Great Yin Yoga Poses That May Benefit You In Freediving Anahatasana: This is my personal favorite pose. Anahata means heart and it is a heart or chest and shoulder opener. Often in Yoga when you open the ribcage and chest, it is referred to as a heart opener. This is because in Yoga, we believe that the physical body is connected to the energetic body, and in the chest area is the energy of the heart or heart chakra (wheel). In Hatha Yoga, Anahatasana is referred to as Puppy Pose. Method: On the ground similar to child pose, keep the hips up and directly over the knees. Slide the arms forward and make sure the elbows rest on the ground. The chin or forehead can rest on the ground. However, if you have pillows or a bolster, it's best to rest your upper body on that. This pose can greatly benefit the streamlined position of having your arms lifted above the head. Especially if this kind of flexibility does not come naturally. Over time one can feel the tricep and shoulder connection release and learn to keep relaxation in the chest whilst having the arms extended. Hold time: 5 minutes. Standing forward fold: This pose is good for the legs, for those tight in the hamstrings, I would say practice this daily. Start standing with the legs around two fists or hip-distance apart and passively fold forward over the legs. If you have very tight hamstrings, then keep the knees soft and bent, so that the chest falls closer to the thighs. By bending the knees more, you will access tension in the lower back that may be pulling on the legs and keeping them tight and stiff. Bananasana: The name of this pose comes from the shape that the body gives. It is essentially a side stretch. This pose is done lying down on the back with both of the butt cheeks on the ground, the legs and arms go to one side. This gives the entire side body a stretch, working into the it band running along the side of the leg and into the side ribs and armpit, and arms.  To make the stretch a little deeper, you can bring the outside ankle over the inner ankle, but if it feels too much then release it and don’t go so deep into the stretch. The stimulation should always be mild in Yin. Hold Time: 5 Minutes Hatha Yoga or Vinyasa Flow Too much of anything is not a good thing, so we need to balance the Yin with Yang and vice versa. If we were to practice too much Yin then the body would become passive and floppy, and if we were to practice too much of the Yang then the body and mind would become rigid and too stern. Hatha means sun and soon, it is probably a much more balanced practice than Vinyasa flow which is a consistent movement that increases the heart rate and flow of energy. Hatha is a dynamic practice but try to keep the heart rate low and hold the poses for longer. A typical Hatha sequence would start with sun salutation to warm up the body, each movement stretches the body, the entire front body and back body are stretched and warmed up. Even in freediving, we use the front and back body depending on the direction of our kicks or pulls. The standing part or sequence of hatha yoga includes Warriors 1, 2, 3 side stretches and balance poses. Alignment of the joints is important and when we engage the muscles this creates strength in the muscle which will support the joints. Body awareness and learning how to engage and disengage the muscles come over time by practicing Hatha Yoga. After the standing sequence, we move to the ground with forwarding folds, backbends, inversions, and eventually Savasana. The ground sequence greatly increases flexibility throughout the entire body. Particular focus can be made on the backbends to increase flexibility in the intercostal muscles, ribs, and chest. Savasana means corpse pose and it's extremely important to add to the end of every yoga practice, it helps the body to memorize the practice, to physically and energetically store the information, just like when we sleep at night and the subconscious processes the day’s events. Asana practice is extremely important to keep the body flexible and healthy. But the mind is the greatest tool we have in freediving. The ratio of mental vs. physical is often debated in freediving, but some say it's 80% Mental and 20% Physical. Meditation is, therefore, more important than any physical practice and I suggest including at least a minimum of 10 minutes a day to any routine you may have for freediving or for life in general. Meditation can be done sitting or lying down, but with lying down comes the risk of falling asleep. It’s best to have a straight spine for the breath to be deep and easy. There are various forms of meditation. Some like to practice a method used in Vipassana retreats, which is an observation of the body. Observing the breath is a very good practice also. My favorite mediation however is a mantra meditation, using the words SO HAM, said with the inhale and with the exhale. Because our mind observes our thoughts with words we can replace the words and thoughts with a mantra and with repetition of the mantra, the thoughts become less important or dominant. We cannot stop our thoughts, but we can learn to observe them and to allow them to pass without being drawn into every thought that arises. Overall Overall anything you practice outside of freediving can benefit freediving. Being mindful, present, and aware is perhaps the most important thing. But to have a regular stretching or yoga routine will help to keep the body flexible. Try to keep the routine consistent. By doing the practice in the same place and at the same time every day, the mind will become trained to know that it is freediving time and time to let the body naturally come to the diving reflex and to a calm state of mind that we know helps in freediving. Most importantly enjoy your practice and if you can keep it fresh and interesting by joining classes, workshops, and retreats, then this can become a lifetime practice that will never become boring. Enjoy and have fun with it, in the end, it’s just yoga. Lung Stretches For Freediving  
more

Newsletters suck, ours don't!

Sign up to see what we've been working on and to get the scoop on new arrivals, limited editions, supreme content, competitions, special sales & more.
Zizi Chen
27/11/2020
TAIWAN
alchemy V3

It's my first pair of fins and I adore it! Highly recommended with good quality and light weight. Best partner in your diving trip.

Verified Buyer
KZ
25/11/2020
SINGAPORE
alchemy V3-30 Pro

V330 Pro is a great pair of fins. They are powerful when you need the power, and they are nice and soft when you want the efficiency. Love using them for pool dynamic training. They are just amazing.

Verified Buyer
Ryan Wcal
08/12/2020
GUAM (USA)
alchemy V3 Pro

I absolutely love my new fins. Quality wise? Top notch, Performance wise? Incredible! I'm totally satisfied.

Verified Buyer
Claudine I. Malolot
08/12/2020
PHILIPPINES
alchemy V3

I loved how its a shorties but the power of the fin is amazing. And it's very handy when it comes to traveling because its a shorties. I also love how light it is and it doesn't make my ankles hurt.

Verified Buyer
Phil Cothran
30/11/2020
UNITED STATES
alchemy S

The Alchemy S fins are the best carbon fiber freedive fins I've ever had the pleasure to use. Lightweight sleek design and the most comfortable yet durable foot pocket on the market. Love my Alchemy fins!!

Verified Buyer
Robert
27/11/2020
GUAM (USA)
alchemy S-30

Lightest and toughest fins in the game! I always get compliments by other divers fascinated with how light Weight my alchemy S30s are paired with c4 300 Foot pockets. I can go all day swimming the blue on long shore dives with no problems. Love the performance and the look! The bar has been set high!

Verified Buyer
June Choi
30/11/2020
SOUTH KOREA
alchemy V3

Best fins ever :)

Verified Buyer
FuKang Kao
30/11/2020
TAIWAN
alchemy V3-30 Plus

Very nice!

Verified Buyer
Anton Hartanto
27/11/2020
INDONESIA
alchemy V3

Great product with great after sale benefit.

Verified Buyer
Nuntawut Boonrubsub
30/03/2021
THAILAND
alchemy V3-30

It was a perfect fins that i have use.

Verified Buyer