Where the experts holiday: Adam Stern,

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Aussie, Adam Stern – a competitive freediver (breath hold diver) and freediving instructor who trains and competes in competitions all over the world and currently holds an Australian men’s depth record (85m)  – talks travel

What do you like to do on holiday?
I take two different kinds of holidays. There are my freedive training holidays and my fun diving holidays. When I’m training I look for places in the world with deep, calm waters and I train myself to dive as deep as I can on one breath. When I’m not training I like to visit exciting and unique dive locations where I can dive with different kinds of sea life or beautiful reefs or trenches or spectacular caves. I’m always looking for new kinds of terrain to explore and new places that humble me to the scope and awe of the underwater world.

Where did you last go?
I was last training in Long Island, Bahamas in Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world. It’s 200m deep and protected from wind and swell by a small cliff wall. It’s the perfect place to dive deep. When I wasn’t training, I would explore the island and its idyllic beaches. There were so many fish in the ocean too and so many sharks. Mostly harmless little reef sharks.

Do you know where you’re going this year?
I’m currently diving in San Andres, Colombia but later on in the year I’ll be visiting Bali for a free-diving competition and then going on to the Philippines to explore the islands and take a break from competition. It’s always nice to reconnect with the ocean by playing around in it after pushing yourself in a competition.

Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
I wonder if anyone has a real answer to this question. I really don’t. Each place has been wonderful and horrible for its own reasons. I did spend a year and a half living in Dahab, Egypt and for all the things that I couldn’t stand about the place by the time I left, it really is magical. The diving is simply incredible with some of the most fantastic dive sites that I’ve ever seen and then just five minutes from the sea is the open and empty desert which is so quiet that your ears ring just to remind themselves that they’re still there. It’s too hot usually to go there in the day but we would always go in the evening and have picnic dinners, drink Bedouin tea and watch the stars…more shooting stars than anywhere else I’ve ever been!

Credit: Elod Laszlo

Credit: Elod Laszlo

Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
Mongolia. For years now I’ve wanted to go to Mongolia, buy a horse and ride for months across the steppe. I seem to be attracted at the moment to vast, desolate places. The more I train, the more I think about Mongolia! It’s almost become my happy place that I think about when I’m tired or feel like I need a break from deep diving.

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
That’s hard to pinpoint because Australia is so massive. I think the best thing to do is to have your own car so that you can get properly lost and find all those incredible beaches that are far away from the tourist traps. The other thing that I wish people would do when they go to the Great Barrier Reef is to avoid going on the large snorkelling and diving boats, which take people to the same stretch of reef every day. One of the most damaging things to a reef is divers so you can imagine what the reef looks like there compared to the absolutely pristine spots a few kilometres away. The rewards of getting off the beaten track on the Great Barrier Reef are huge.

Credit: Wendy Timmermans

Credit: Wendy Timmermans

How do you plan your holiday?
I use everything at my disposal. I get recommendations from friends, look at travel guides, occasionally read blogs. I do tend to avoid travel agents because most of the time they can’t tell me anything that I can’t learn from a quick google search – plus they charge commission!

How often do you go away?
Out of the year I spend at least six months out of the country. Though while I’m in Australia I am constantly moving around and travelling up, down and around the coast to teach freediving courses. So really, I’m always on the move.

Who do you travel with?
Usually I travel alone. The more people you travel with, the more people you have to compromise with. When I am training though, it is nice to travel with a training buddy. I like travelling with another good freediver so we can get to learn each other’s dive habits, strengths and weaknesses.

Credit: Wendy Timmermans

Credit: Wendy Timmermans

Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
In Australia there are lots of people who come on two year work/travel visas and they travel the country that way. Australia can be an expensive country to visit so many people stay for a while and do a bit of work to fund their trips. I think that will stay the same, more or less. I think we will see an increase on tourism from Asia, as more and more wealth accumulates there. The thing that concerns me though for Australian tourism is the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef due to a 1001 reasons: commercial fishing, rising sea temperatures, shipping and mining. I hope that one day we don’t wake up one day and find one of our countries most precious places and tourism draws withering away from abuse.

Credit: Wendy Timmermans

Credit: Wendy Timmermans

Thanks Adam! When not competing, Adam can be found teaching freediving courses all over Australia’s coast- from the Great Barrier Reef to the colder waters near Tasmania. Adam grew up in a small surfing town a few hours north of Sydney but only discovered freediving in 2011 while traveling around Thailand. From that moment though he was hooked on the sport and his travels became strictly orientated to freediving, training and competing in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean Sea and the Red Sea. You can follow his adventures at: Instagram, @adamfreediver or Facebook, Adam Stern Freediver

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