Snorkeling vs. Scuba: Which Activity is Right for You?

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Do you love getting into the water and enjoy the idea of entering a brand-new underwater world? Two popular hobbies are snorkeling and scuba diving, and you might be wondering which of these is right for you.

If you are currently debating scuba vs. snorkeling, you will find a wealth of information below that can help you learn more about these activities, so you can find the one that’s right for you. Both can be a lot of fun, and they can be great exercise. Of course, before you choose one of these hobbies to pursue, you will want to know a bit more about them.

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Scuba vs. Snorkeling: How Are They Different?

Before you make your decision, you will want to learn the basics of what makes snorkeling and scuba diving different from one another. While they both get you into and under the water, they are very different.


When someone snorkels, they will swim close to the surface of the water while wearing a mask and using a snorkel. The snorkel will allow the person to breathe when the snorkel breaches the surface of the water. Of course, many snorkelers also like holding their breath and getting a little bit deeper into the water. This will let them get a closer look at marine life, reefs, and more.

Scuba Diving

When you are scuba diving, you will be fully beneath the surface of the water. You will not need to rely on holding your breath since you will be breathing through a regulator mouthpiece. You might also have a full facemask that has a regulator attached to it, depending on the gear you are using.

Scuba diving does require a lot more equipment than snorkeling, and it also requires that you have the training and are certified to dive. Fortunately, learning is relatively easy, and even children can get certified to dive. Still, you will need to take a course for certification, which takes time and has an added cost.

scuba diving

Reasons People Snorkel

The biggest reason that people snorkel is so they can experience all of the interesting marine life and beauty that’s under the surface of the water. It is a very common activity for those who are going on a beach vacation.

Snorkeling tends to be very easy to learn for adults and children alike. You will not need to have any special training or certification to snorkel. Most people will be able to learn how to snorkel in a matter of minutes.

Still, it’s a good idea to practice in shallow water, so you can get accustomed to using the snorkel. Some people have trouble when they are first starting with a snorkel. With a little practice, though, you will be able to get the hang of it, so you can enjoy your time in the water.

In addition to recreation and simply looking at the sites below the water, snorkeling is also used by free divers, as well as those who are going spearfishing. You will be able to stay under the water for as long as you can hold your breath. Of course, if you are not comfortable holding your breath and swimming deeper, you can always float on the surface and simply look below you.

Snorkeling is a casual and relaxing water-based activity that you can enjoy in the ocean, as well as in lakes. To get the most from your snorkeling, it is a good idea to choose areas that have great visibility. This will allow you to see more even when you are just on the surface of the water.

Reasons People Scuba Dive

As with snorkeling, the reason that many people enjoy scuba diving is for recreation. There are countless places to go and dive around the world whether you want to explore reefs or wrecks. It is one of the most popular activities for those who want an adventure that goes beyond just sitting on the beach.

Scuba gear could also be used for spearfishing. In addition, there are many professional jobs, such as underwater welding. The military utilizes scuba divers, as well.

Equipment Needed for Snorkeling

One of the benefits of snorkeling is that you do not need to have much in the way of snorkeling equipment. Check out the list below to see what you are going to need.

  • Snorkel mask – This is one of the most important pieces of gear for snorkeling. The mask is what will allow you to see what’s happening underwater clearly. The mask should be comfortable, and it should have tempered glass. You can choose a traditional snorkeling mask or a full mask.
  • Snorkel – Naturally, you will need to have a snorkel, as well. Be sure to choose a new model that features a dry top. This will help to prevent water from getting into the snorkel and reduce the risk of swallowing water.
  • Fins – While fins may not always be necessary depending on where you will be snorkeling, they will always be helpful. They help to make swimming more efficient, and it will be easier to navigate when you are swimming near reefs.
  • Protective Clothing – While some may be comfortable simply snorkeling while in swim shorts or a bathing suit, you might want to use some protective clothing, such as a rash guard or protective shorts/pants. They can provide UV protection, protection from jellyfish stings, or scrapes on coral.

You should also consider using UV protection in the form of sunscreen that doesn’t wash off in the water. When you are snorkeling close to the surface, you are exposed to the sun’s rays, so you will want to have some added protection.


Equipment Needed for Scuba

When compared with snorkeling, you will find that scuba diving requires far more equipment if you want to have a fun and safe dive. Here’s a list of the most common types of scuba diving gear that you need.

  • Wetsuit or drysuit – If you are diving in warmer waters, you will want to have a wetsuit. Those who are diving in colder waters will typically want to have a drysuit instead.
  • Diving mask – As with snorkeling, you will want to have a diving mask that you can use to help you see clearly under the water.
  • Snorkel – While you don’t necessarily need to have a snorkel while you are scuba diving, some divers keep one handy. It allows them to spend time near the surface of the water without expending the air in their tanks.
  • Scuba gloves – A good pair of gloves will help to keep your hands warmer while you are underwater. They will also protect your skin from scrapes that you might get on coral, wrecks, etc.
  • Regulator – The regulator allows you to breathe beneath the water. There are many styles and models of regulator on the market today.
  • Fins – Diving fins will help you move through the water quickly and efficiently without wasting energy. There are open heel and full-foot fin options available. Full-foot fins are usually used in warmer water while the open heel fins are typically used in colder water.
  • Scuba tanks – You could opt to buy your own scuba tanks and have them filled, or you could rent them each time you want to dive.
  • Depth gauge, pressure gauge, and compass – These tools let you know your current depth and the max depth you reached during the dive. The pressure gauge will let you know how much air you have in your tank. A compass helps you navigate while you are under the water.
  • Dive computer – A dive computer can monitor the duration of the dive, the depth, and how long you can stay at that depth and still be safe. In some cases, they can also track how much air you have left.
  • Dive knife – A good dive knife that’s easy to access is always helpful.

When you are buying the gear that scuba diving requires, you will always want to choose the best options you can afford. These are items that will not only help to make your trip more enjoyable, but they help to ensure your safety. It is not somewhere that you will want to skimp.

Those who do not have enough money to buy all of the gear they need will still be able to dive. Many locations that rent diving gear, so you can rent what you need until you buy your own.

Stay Safe While Snorkeling and Scuba

Snorkeling and scuba can be a lot of fun, but there are also some dangers associated with these hobbies. For example, there is the possibility of decompression sickness for divers who come up from the depths too quickly. There is also the possibility of dangerous marine life, such as barracuda or sharks.

However, these hobbies are not inherently dangerous. You simply need to pay attention to your surroundings, dive with a buddy, and be aware of how to snorkel and dive properly. With some common sense and precautions, you can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving without worry.

Snorkeling vs. Scuba Diving: Which is Better?

To be honest, there isn’t a “better” choice. Both of these activities can be a lot of fun and can provide you with a wonderful new hobby to enjoy for the rest of your life. You will want to consider how comfortable you are in the water, for starters.

Many people start out snorkeling, but then take a scuba class later when they want to go deeper and explore other locations. Some might simply be content snorkeling. Whether you choose one or both, you will be able to have a great time exploring all of the wonders beneath the water.