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Snorkeling vs. Scuba Diving: What’s the difference?

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Snorkeling and scuba diving are unique underwater activities that involve the exploration and admiration of marine life. Here are some of the key differences that make both activities adventurous, challenging, and fun for all divers and swimmers. 

1. Motive

While snorkeling, you can observe the wonders that the underwater world has to offer, such as marine plants, a multitude of fish, and coral reefs from beneath the water’s surface. This is primarily a recreational activity that won’t break the bank and doesn’t require any certification. Perfect for a beach vacation, non-swimmers and children can enjoy this activity easily. Snorkeling can also be done for spearfishing and freediving.

On the other hand, scuba diving mainly involves exploring the underwater world at much greater depths. This can be done for recreational purposes, spearfishing, and free diving, along with professional and military operations. You can explore shipwrecks and caves while swimming among some of the rarest species of fish and marine plants. Indulging in this sport requires you to obtain a certification.

snorkeling vs. scuba diving
dive in aqaba

2. Equipment

The equipment required for snorkeling is relatively simple; you’ll need a diving mask to cover your eyes and nose, allowing you to keep the water out and give you an undisturbed view. Essential for snorkeling is the snorkel, which is an L- or J-shaped tube that helps you breathe while your face is submerged underwater. And you’ll also need a pair of fins to help you navigate your way beneath the surface—although the latter is optional.

Since scuba diving involves greater depths, it requires more equipment compared to snorkeling. This includes a mask, snorkel, a wetsuit, fins, depth gauge, a special vest called a buoyancy control device that provides you with oxygen, and an air tank.

3. Duration

If you’re observing the marine life while floating just below the water’s surface, time isn’t a factor of concern for you. This is because the snorkel ensures a constant air supply and you’re relatively close to the surface. However, if you want to go deeper, the duration of your exciting excursion depends on how long you can hold your breath.

When scuba diving, you’ll carry an air tank that allows you to stay underwater longer as you won’t need to hold your breath. The gas in the tank will help you breathe, but its availability is limited. The deeper you go, the faster the gas runs out. Several environmental factors and decompression limits also play a significant part in your duration of stay underwater. Done right, scuba diving has stunning sights and an unforgettable experience to offer, so make sure you head to this adventure with the experts.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between snorkeling and scuba diving we recommend the article Scuba Diving for Beginners by our friends at Ocean Buddy.