Freediving Menorca’s Deep-Blue Depths with Katharina Khadjavi

Freediving Menorca’s Deep-Blue Depths with Katharina Khadjavi

We caught up with the founder of active swimwear company Kintana to dive deep into the Balearic blues and hear how she got hooked on exploring magical marine environments.

your breath and dive. It sounds like the easiest thing to
do, but when you’re heading into the twisting underwater tunnels
and inky-dark caves peppered around the shoreline of Menorca like Katharina Khadjavi does, you’ll need
plenty of practice.

Freediving is a discipline, requiring persistence and precision.
Diving to extraordinary depths for inordinate amounts of time, and
without any breathing equipment (bar your burning lungs) isn’t for
the faint of heart. Master the techniques, however, and a new world
opens up: a magical, mysterious environment suffused with a
thousand shades of blue.

The founder of Kintara under the water
Exploring sea caves in Menorca

Katharina Khadjavi, left, under the waves and exploring a
Menorcan sea cave.

You’ll need suitable attire, of course (we’re not ones to try
anything too cold-inducing), but that’s not an easy task, as
Katharina found. It was the conundrum of what to wear when heading
into the depths that led her to found her swimsuit brand, Kintana,
offering practical but cool swimwear for active water babies. Made
in Italy with sustainably sourced recycled fibres, and offering UV
protection for those out on (or under) the waves, the utilitarian
range is what we’re wearing this summer, whether hitting the
Biarritz breaks or road-tripping with the salt-washed surf crowd
along Cornwall’s rugged north coast.

We caught up with Katharina after a recent freediving adventure
in Menorca to hear her recommendations for dipping beneath the
waves of the beautiful Balearic isle, plus the hotels and restaurants
she loves to visit when back on terra firma. Time to dive in.

Into the blue: a freediving guide to Menorca

Exploring the marine life of Menorca
A freediving session in the sea

Katharina exploring the marine life in the Menorcan

When did you first discover freediving?

I have always loved water. After scuba diving for quite some
time, I wanted to try a more natural way of interacting with the
ocean and being underwater. I tried freediving and I’ve not looked
back since.

Why have you kept diving?

It offers a sense of infinite stillness, freedom and natural
alignment with the underwater world. There is nothing like
experiencing free fall or being neutrally buoyant without any heavy
equipment. Experiencing the ocean in our most natural state is
simply magical. It’s the closest you will ever come to flying and
the most natural way to interact with life underwater. I find it an
incredibly meditative experience that marries mind and body.

How did you master the breathwork techniques needed?

Freediving requires relaxation and meditation techniques, lots
of practice and self-awareness. You really get to know your body
and learn to trust it.

Katharina under the ocean in Menorca

Katharina under the waves, left, and the coastline around
the island.

Any top tips for getting started?

Find a good freediving school, and never dive alone. Menorca is
one of my favourite diving destinations in Europe. There’s an
abundance of caves and tunnels to explore, and underwater
visibility is excellent.

I recommend booking lessons with Valeria and Adam from Freedive
the island’s first school dedicated to the sport. They
know the waters and the best places to dive inside out.

My last tip? Skip the morning coffee and the evening drink if
you’re planning a dive. I can tell you from experience that coffee
jitters and a hangover do not support relaxation.

Why should we head to Menorca for our first dive?

The island is so diverse and has amazing underwater caves to
explore. It’s a wild paradise, with crystal-clear waters for spying
the myriad wildlife and majestic rock formations that will take
your breath away.

What’s your favourite dive spot there?

The Swiss Cheese, as the name suggests, is a big rock with lots
of tunnels and caves running through it that’s fun to explore. It’s
a famous freedive site and offers challenges whatever your
experience. You’ll need to head down with an experienced diver,
though. Safety always comes first.

The white cliffs of the Menorcan coastline
People enjoying the sun on the Menorcan coastline

Coastal cliffs around Menorca.

Anywhere else you’d recommend we dip below the waves?

The Pont d’en Gil Galleries sea cave is a mentally challenging
dive, but once inside, the way the sun’s rays light up the water is
magical. I’m also a sucker for a dive in open water, experiencing
white sand and endless blue all around. You can practise your line
training with a focus on technique, and just enjoy the tranquillity
of the big blue.

Which Kintana kit should we pack?

I always bring our classic Longsleeve Shorty with me on diving adventures,
and pair it with our Waterlegging. But this time, I also brought two
exciting new prototypes that are launching in autumn – I can’t wait
to share them with you.

Where do you stay, post-dive?

I love the Experimental Hotel. It’s
fun, well located and the rooms are beautiful. A former military
base, the property has been transformed into a design-driven
boutique hotel, with a fabulous farm-to-table restaurant. There’s a
yoga deck that looks out over the ocean for that morning stretching
session – an ideal way to prepare for your dive.

Any favourite dining destinations for evenings on the

Na Pilar,
Torralbenc and Villa
are my picks.

What else does Menorca offer?

A visit to the region’s Hauser & Wirth gallery is a must. It’s located on
an islet in Mahón harbour, which is accessible by ferry, and has a
lovely restaurant. I’d also recommend trying some horse riding out
here. The island has a bridle path running all along its perimeter,
and on some beaches you can ride into the waves – an experience as
exhilarating as freediving.

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