Adventure in the 21st Century: Freediving Hanli Prinsloo on how the ocean can offer an escape from digital life

In the first of a series exploring what adventure means today, freediver and ocean conservationist Hanli Prinsloo explains how the ocean can offer an escape from digital life.


For me, adventure is synonymous with nature because that’s where we get to be wild and playful outside of urban constraints, away from the devices and everything that tames us. 70% of our planet is ocean and remains very much unexplored and unmapped, so adventure in the 21st century has to happen in the ocean as it is one of our last truly wild places.

Research has helped encourage an understanding that with just a mask and snorkel you can explore incredible places underwater. There has been a great increase in the number of people entering the ocean, on the ocean’s terms, and exploring for the pure joy of it, as opposed to planned, methodical expeditions.

Freediving is an adventure into the self and self-knowledge, as well as into the wilderness of the ocean. People are attracted to the stillness of freediving as well as how easy it makes to explore what lies beneath the surface. Today there is an ever increasing need for people to feel connected to something greater than themselves and escape the fragmented way of life in cities. Nature really is an antidote to the modern world.

Over the past five years I have been sharing the ocean with others through a conservation organisation. The remarkable thing is that it doesn’t matter who the person is – it’s the same lighting up of the eyes and the same transformation that happens when people have that experience underwater. Even though one can be tempted to feel that there isn’t that much left to explore, everything I do proves that the opposite is true.

In conversation with George Upton

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