I am often asked by several people to differentiate between snorkeling and scuba diving. The newbies to water sports often find it hard to understand how do these two differ and how to tell if someone is scuba diving or snorkeling.
You see how these two share a similar water-based origin. But it is easy to distinguish between these as both use different types of gears. Here are a few things that separate these two water sports from each other.
Differences between snorkeling and scuba diving
Usually, my response to this question starts with another question; What does it come to your mind when you hear the word snorkeling and scuba diving? Water! Yes, that’s right. So scuba diving and snorkeling both are underwater activities to explore the sea world. However, both are different in their mode of execution. If you ask me which one of them is better, I would say whichever you prefer. But scuba diving is preferably done in warm waters.
There are many other things that one needs to do in these two water sports. For example, water shoes, scuba diving gears, Greatever snorkel mask reviews, camera, snorkel fins, etc. Here are some key differences between scuba diving and snorkeling explained.
Mode of execution
Snorkeling and scuba diving both are a modification of swimming, but snorkeling is done on the water surface while a person faces down towards the sea. It makes a person explore the beauty of the sea while swimming above it. Snorkeling only requires good breathing control and swimming skills, and even snorkeling gears are simple.
Scuba diving is a rather rigorous activity that involved a complete immersion in water. So, it requires training, exclusive gear, and skills to execute it. “SCUBA” is literally an acronym that says “Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.”
Gear and equipment
In the case of scuba diving, the equipment is highly specific and professional. It uses an air tank to help you breathe underwater, fins, diving mask, wet suit, and BCD (Buoyancy Control Device), which is practically a jacket to maintain buoyancy.
Snorkeling and scuba diving both require a completely different type of equipment. For example, snorkeling requires less technical easy to use gears such as mask, fins, snorkel, etc. all of this allows the user to explore the underwater beauty. Snorkel is a breathing tube that gives you control over breathing while being in the water. This snorkel tube is partially above water, allowing the passage for oxygen to breathe. Snorkel fins are helpful for smooth movements in the water, so that don’t get tired. My personal favorited are Greatever snorkel fins, which are affordable, stylish, and super comfortable. Or you can buy the complete set, like Greatever dry snorkel set, which is ideal for the beginners. No need to rent the snorkel gears when you can simply purchase it online before planning your next trip.
Depth of water
My own experience with water is more with snorkeling and less with scuba diving. People like me who want to fully enjoy their water experience like to remain burden free and enjoy every minute of being in the water. For that snorkeling is better as it only gets to explore a maximum of 5-6 meters depth of water. Only professional swimmers and trained divers can go below this depth while controlling the breathing with an air tank on their back. But if you want to see the real beauty of the sea, scuba diving is what you need to do.
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As easy as it sounds, snorkeling only involves submerging your face down in the water. Meanwhile, the snorkel tube remains partially outside the water so that breathing is not compromised. But if you like to go deep, you need extreme breathing control that allows you to hold your breath for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can also try using a dry snorkel set, which prevents the water from flooding during snorkeling. Still, if you need to spend more time in “deep water,” scuba diving helps for that, but it requires breathing training and control using the air tank, mask, and regulator.
Lucky that snorkeling doesn’t require any certification or training. If you are good at swimming, you can snorkel too. No one would stop you to snorkel anywhere or ask for your license.
Bonus- you can also snorkel even if you don’t know how to swim by using a floating device.
But to dive anywhere, you must be a certified scuba diver. And it only happens when you finish training with a professional agency or person typically ending up with a “certificate.” This certificate is called C-Card of a diver and works as a license for diving in any part of the world. Note that you would not be allowed to dive or rent diving equipment anywhere without C-card.
Acquired training and skills
Both of these water-based sports differ by the skill that they need. Snorkeling is basic and pretty simple for which you don’t need a professional training. I did my first snorkeling when I was a teenager, and I just followed the instructions of my dad, who was an untrained yet best snorkeler that I know. As long as you know how to swim, snorkeling is nothing but a piece of cake. Even if it is your first time, you can self-learn it within a few minutes. Experienced snorkelers can go more in-depth and enjoy for a more extended period than a newbie. But practice is what makes anyone perfect.
Scuba diving needs specialized training before you do it. A certified trainer would explain how to get control over your breath and use the air tank. You will also be taught the safe ways to enjoy scuba diving. This training is extensive and, be honest, expensive. I would suggest you get ready for mentally and physically investing in it.
Is there any age limit for scuba diving or snorkeling?
I am happy to tell you that snorkeling has no age limit, and even children can do it. As I have mentioned before, my first snorkel was with my dad during my early teenage. I knew the basic swimming before but no formal training or certification for snorkeling. After a struggle of 20-25 minutes, I was able to float myself on the surface of the water and that too without any fancy gear. But for now, I advise everyone to use the snorkeling gears, or at least a mask to enjoy what you see underwater. If you are looking for a good mask, let me tell you that Greatever snorkel mask reviews suggest it to be user-friendly for first-timers. It is easy to use, affordable, and comes in a stylish design.
For scuba diving, yes, there is an age limit as well as basic training needed. You have to enroll your kids into a professional training course before allowing them to dive. The minimum age of a child learning scuba diving is 10-14 years, and they only get their C-card once they are 15 years old.
Purpose of snorkeling or scuba diving
Although both of these activities are considered “recreational” doings, it could serve several purposes. For example, snorkeling allows a person to observe the diversity in fish, algae, reefs, and marine plantation and collect their samples for study or research. Snorkeling can also be done to catch fish. On the other side, scuba diving helps to explore the deep sea surfaces, sea creatures, caves, welding, engineering, spearfishing, underwater construction, and even military purposes.
How long can you last underwater?
The answer to this question depends on your preference, purpose, and air supply. Anyone who only enjoys floating under the sea surface, it is possible to remain for hours. However, it is not a very good idea as it might make you restless.
Risks in scuba diving and snorkeling
On comparing both, you will notice one thing that snorkeling is relatively risk-free. I mean, what could go wrong if you are practically just swimming beneath the water? If you know swimming, there is nothing that could go wrong ever. However, you have to be confident even if it’s your first snorkel experience. Other risks include jellyfish sting that you must watch yourself, and being hit by coral reefs and rocks, again, which need your concentration and accuracy of action. Use a good quality mask to improve underwater clarity. Greatever snorkel mask reviews suggest it to be the right choice for people of all ages. It’s scratch-free surface, a comfortable design and panoramic view helps the user to enjoy his snorkeling experience at best.
Scuba diving has more risks and dangers involved, especially when you go into deep waters without having the required skills. The most significant risk with scuba diving is that you could drown if you are unable to control your breathing in such deep water. You may also come across a sea creature that could attack you and hurt you. Diving in cold water may lead to hypothermia too.
Once this difference between snorkeling and scuba diving is clear, next is to know if there is any limitation on these two. Yes, certain limitations relate to health. I would say that everyone can snorkel, but it is not the same as scuba diving. Not everyone can dive deep into the water without getting hurt, injured, or drowned.
Patients of blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, and immunocompromised people should consult their doctors before planning a water picnic. Although I have seen pregnant women swimming and snorkeling, it is not a very wise idea to do it, especially after the first trimester. Both these activities require physical exertion that is probably not best if there is an unborn baby and pregnant mother involved. Scuba diving for pregnant women, even if they are certified, is NEVER a good idea.
Conclusion- which one is better?
Despite having only a few differences, the debate of snorkeling vs. scuba diving is endless. As to me, there is no “best” among these two, and the one you feel like doing would probably go fine for you. However, I strongly recommend getting formal training or certification before scuba diving. Also, make sure that you are using the best gadgets to facilitate your underwater experience. Just choose the one which suits you better.