GUIDE TO FREEDIVE IN LAS VEGAS (2021)
Freediving in the middle of a desert? In Las Vegas? That's the comment I get THE MOST when I tell people I'm teaching freediving in Las Vegas.
QUICK PLUG - FREEDIVE COURSE
UPDATE: I've moved to Taiwan in November 2020 and thus I am no longer teaching in Las Vegas, you can check out my Taiwan site here. If you are interested in learning freediving please check out my fabulous mermaid friend Rachel here
Click here to read about my blog post about taking a beginner freediving course in Vegas
HOW DID I END UP IN LAS VEGAS?
Ever since my parents moved to Las Vegas four years ago, I’ve been thrilled to come visit, and even stay awhile.
I hope this guide can assist those teaching freediving in the US to consider Las Vegas as a place to teach their courses as it’s relatively easy to get to here from most places in the US. If you have any questions about freediving in Vegas, please feel free to contact me.
After completing my freedive instructor certification course on Gili Air, Indonesia, I traveled around Asia for a bit before coming to Vegas for a friend’s wedding and my daughter’s first visit to her grandparents in Vegas after graduating from high school in Japan.
We had loose plans to go to Mexico to freedive and then onto Europe in the spring and summer but those plans never materialized as we got here just weeks before the city, state and country shut down due to COVID-19.
I came here with a goal of starting a community of freedivers as I will probably be spending a few months a year in Vegas with my folks and I wanted to build a community I could tap to train with when I’m in Vegas. Even before we got here, I started doing some research on freediving in Vegas. I found a few things on Reddit and some people spearfishing in the lakes around here, but not much else. So looks like I’d have to start things from the ground up.
The last year in Asia, free diving has been easy: the waters were warm, access to free diving spots from shore or boat have been easy. And now I face a serious challenge in trying to start a freedive community in Las Vegas. But I think unless you live in Florida or Hawaii, freediving is going to be a challenge anywhere you go in the US.
THE CHALLENGES WERE:
- FINDING A POOL - the pools that I contacted for Clark Country, City of Las Vegas and YMCA did not allow “breath-hold training”. Although YMCA said I could rent a lane for $200 an hour for a minimum 2 hours for breath-hold training.
- COLD - I’m used to diving in tropical weather where water temperatures are 25-31° C and a 3mm lined wetsuit was plenty fine. The Lakes around Vegas is much colder, EVEN IN THE SUMMER!
- FINDING SUITABLE OPEN WATER - Lake Mead is a wonderfully large lake with serious depth but there are visibility issues especially in the summer when the algae blooms.
MERMAIDS OF VEGAS
Before going over the solutions, I just want to acknowledge two mermaids that helped me get to where we are now.
First is Rachel Novak, otherwise known as the Sailing Siren on Youtube and Instagram. Rachel is a pharmacist by day and absolute badass by night (freedive instructor, divemaster, skydiver, rock climber, sails boats, fire performer, fight stunt performer, and of course A MERMAID). I happened upon her YouTube channel and connected with her on Instagram. At that time, she was a fire performer at one of the shows on the Strip, taking a break from her day job. She helped me in terms of getting the lay of the land in Vegas before I even got there.
Second is Blake Martinez, resident MERMAID at Silverton Casino. It was pure serendipity how I met Blake. I was scrolling through Facebook, as I always do, when I saw an ad for 3rd Reef Divers advertising for a Scuba Advanced Open Water course. I was PADI certified 20 years ago for just basic open water, but I’ve been meaning to take an Advanced Open Water course just in case some dives require it. I FB messaged them about a question about pricing.
I then facetiously asked “do you guys give discounts to freedive instructors?”
3rd Reef “No, but you are a freedive instructor?”
Me “Yes, are you hiring,”
3rd Reef “Yes, but we are also training someone up to be a freedive instructor, why don’t you come in tomorrow and meet her,”
And that’s how I met Blake, who at the time, had no formal freedive training, but a lot of natural skills and has accompanied me on every training and course since.
TWO LEGIT MERMAID IN VEGAS
ANYHOO, OVER TO SOLUTIONS:
- FINDING A POOL - through 3rd Reef I found out the Heritage Pool in Henderson does allow breath-hold training. But it’s been closed since Covid hit and won’t be open until Phase 3 opening. The governor in Nevada had extended Phase 2 until the end of July. However, we’ve found at Cabinsite Cove a rocky shore which is sufficient to run at least the first two levels of freedive courses. We did dynamic at Cottonwood before which is ok, there is some grassy part there so the first doesn’t kick up as much sand effecting visibility but it’s still an issue.
- COLD - I did some diving in San Diego in March and the waters there were the same as Lake Mead, I had rented a 5mm lined spearfishing wetsuit from a spearfishing shop. It was a bit cold, especially after about 1.5 hours in the water. I thus ordered a custom 5.5mm open cell wetsuit from Polo Sub. The temperatures in the waters of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave vary between 16° C ( 62° F) to 26° C (79° F) depending where you are in the lake, time of the year, or how deep you are. I recently have gone diving in various parts of Lake Mohave and the closer you are to the dam, the colder it is. For example, close to the dam at Willow Beach is 19° C (66°F) on the surface and further down at Cabinsite is 26° C (79°F) on the surface. Near Nelson’s Landing (between Willow Beach and Cabinsite), we were scavenging for lost GoPros or Apple Watches as that is the only place accessible by car you can cliff dive and many people lose their possessions when they hit the water. On the surface it was quite comfortable with no wetsuit, however, hitting 7m on a fun dive I managed to go through 2 thermoclines.
- OPEN WATER - Without a boat, Cabinsite is the preferred spot for open water dives. It has shown good visibility consistently and there are four boat warning buoys there to secure your freedive buoy onto (we did have a ranger boat come up to make sure we weren’t spearfishing which is not allowed within a certain distance of a public area so I don’t think it’s illegal). 3 of the buoys have about 10-20m but the fourth, the furthest buoy (on the right-hand side if you are staring straight at the Nevada side) had at least 26 meters which is good enough for a second level free diving course of which I have conducted one there. That further buoy is a bit far; I estimate to be about a 300m swim. I wouldn’t recommend drift diving here as Lake Mohave is basically a big river and the water constantly flowing along with a myriad of jet skis and boats to avoid.
If you are conducting a course at Cabinsite, I’d recommend staying at Laughlin, I’ve never stayed there or gone in any of the casinos, but it does look affordable and only a 20 minute drive from Laughlin. Cabinsite is about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Vegas.
BEAUTIFUL CALM WATERS OF LAKE MOHAVE
DEEP POOLS IN VEGAS?
Diving pools seem to be the trend now. I’ve seen a 40m pool in Italy, a 26m one in South Korea and Divecube in Taichung, Taiwan which has 21m. If I had endless mounds of cash, I’d invest in an at least 61m diving pool in Vegas. If there is one city in America deserving of the deepest pool in the world, I think that’s Vegas as they seem to do everything bigger here. If anyone reading this is interested in investing in a deep pool in Vegas, hit me up, I’d love to be involved in a project like that. I did check the depths of the pools at the O and La Reve shows, but they are not deep enough to conduct even the first level course.
Lastly, I’d like to mention our tradition - a group truly becomes a community when we have traditions and ours is EATING In-n-Out Burger after every dive. If you dive at Cabinesite its easy, there is an In-n-out in Laughlin which is on the way back to Vegas. So if you do dive in Vegas, please keep this tradition alive and hashtag #vegasfreediving.
TRADITION: POST DIVE MEAL
If you are interested in freediving in Vegas, join the Vegas Freedive Community on Facebook here. Hope to see you out at Cabinsite!
3rd Reef Divers - https://www.3rdreefdivers.com/
Sailing Siren Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWoX1NNgpn-ZTbgCnclsbXA
Sailing Siren IG - https://www.instagram.com/thesailingsiren/
Blake has moved to Oahu Hawaii and you can find her freedive course here
In-n-Out Burger - https://www.in-n-out.com/
Cabinsite Cove - https://rb.gy/qqynih
Mermaid Show at Silverton - https://silvertoncasino.com/hotel/aquarium-mermaids-shows/