Discover a magical underwater world around the Cape Town coastline with TV personality, Jonathan Boynton-Lee as he learns the art of free diving.

Our thirst for adventure takes us to the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town where we meet TV personality and actor, Jonathan Boynton-Lee as he prepares to embark on an adventure of a lifetime – learning how to freedive in an underwater kelp forest. 

Learning how to freedive has always been something Jonathan has wanted to do, especially after years being a scuba diver. He shares, “I’ve always wanted to take that air [regulator] out of my mouth, control my breathing, and go down with nothing. It’s the most free you can be in the ocean.”

Along the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town is where Jonathan feels most at home – close to the beach, connected with nature, and where slow living takes its course. “It’s an amazing place to be for your soul,” he describes.

It’s here where Jonathan’s training begins at Cape Town Freediving – a space where recreational and competitive freedivers are taught the basic theory of the sport, such as understanding the different stages of breathing and how to control them. 

Head Instructor at Cape Town Freediving, Stephan Kirsten guides Jonathan on balancing the flow between carbon dioxide and oxygen. He reveals surprising facts about breath control, teaches Jonathan to keep calm and relaxed, and does practical exercises to encourage Jonathan to hold his breath for longer periods of time.

Now that the basics are taught, the biology is covered, and Jonathan can now hold his breath for 2,5 minutes, it’s time to step into the ocean and put it all into practice.

At Windmill Beach, a Marine Protected Area (MPA), Jonathan and Stephan dive below the surface to experience the abundance of marine life and forests of kelp. Stephan explains, “At an MPA, there’s a lot more fish and plant life around because you’re not allowed to fish or take anything out of the sea.”

Braving the unknowns and anxieties, Jonathan submerges himself to slowly acclimatise to life underwater. “The magic of being out there is life-changing,” shares Jonathan, “When you’re floating near the surface, you can see the sun streaks through the water and you feel so close to nature.”

Stephan explains, “It’s definitely a meditative experience. You have to really focus on yourself, try to calm yourself, and to move as little as possible. When you’re gliding through the water, through the kelp forest and over the coral reef, there’s minimal movement involved. In every other sport you have to be active and get the adrenaline going, but with freediving that doesn’t work. You have to slow down and calm down to get the most enjoyment out of the sport.”

Getting lost between the kelp forest proved to be a magical experience for Jonathan. However, learning how to properly dive and conserve breathe and energy underwater definitely introduced a new challenge for this freediving novice. Jonathan describes the feeling of controlling his breath like floating, saying, “You get this incredible feeling like you’ve reached the twilight zone and like you could just hold your breath forever! Learning how to control your breathing is such a valuable thing – even for everyday life.”

Jonathan concludes saying, “Once you get over that initial fear of being under the water, the panic, and trying to catch your breath, you can just let it all go. There’s no better feeling in the world than being that close to nature!”

If Jonathan has taught us anything, it’s that the best way to experience nature is to step out of your comfort zone. And who knows, you may even discover a new passion.