Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving

Are you on a diving trip and about to experience snorkeling or scuba diving? Would you like to know which is easier and more fun? Would you like to have a look at the difference between Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving to take your decision and to start your trip?

All right, below you’ll know 10 differences between snorkeling and scuba diving.

What is the difference between Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving?

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving

Both snorkeling and scuba diving are exciting ways to explore life underwater, however, they are different. Thus, the difference between them extends to the depth, technique, equipment, and so on. We are illustrating such difference as follows:

  • Snorkeling means swimming near the surface of the water using a mask and a breathing tube. Snorkelers can enjoy the underwater views from above and do not have to dive deeply into the water.
  • Scuba diving means diving with the use of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. Scuba divers can, using scuba equipment, breathe easily underwater and immerse themselves completely in the water.

Water Depth

As indicated above, one of the main differences between snorkeling and scuba diving is the water depth and how deep can you go into the water.

  • In snorkelling, snorkelers can use short tubes allowing them to submerge their face into the water only and enjoy the underwater world while floating close to the surface. They would not be able to enjoy the indefinite beauty of the deeper waters.
    Note: human lungs can only work against a pressure of 0.05 atm. tops and water pressure increases by 1 atm. for going down every 10 metres. So even if a snorkel could allow going down deeper, it would still be physically impossible to go too far underwater with the basic snorkelling equipment without risking your health.
  • In scuba diving, divers can stay longer underwater and explore the coral reefs and marine life. Scuba equipment allows divers to go underwater at greater depths. They can dive deep as long as their certification, training, equipment, and gas supply allows.
    Note: recreational divers can go maximum (40) metres (130 feet) deeper, while technical divers can go deeper than 60 metres (200 feet)
    The world record for the deepest scuba diving is currently hit by Ahmed Gabr with 332.35 metres (1.090.4 feet) in depth.

How Long Can I Last Underwater?

It is said that the deeper the divers go into waters, the more time they take underwater. Although snorkelers, unlike scuba divers, cannot dive to deep depths, they can spend more time in water than scuba divers.

  • In snorkeling, snorkelers can spend as much time as they want in the water as long as they appear on the surface at regular intervals to breathe.
  • In scuba diving, otherwise, divers can continue to exist underwater until their amount of gas runs out. They have to go back to the surface with a safe reserve of breathing air in their tank (usually 500 PSI or 50 bar). However, most divers can remain underwater for 45-60 minutes.
    In the case of a multi-dive, the dive computer can indicate the time when you need to go back to the surface.

Gear & Equipment

Equipment is the most obvious difference between snorkeling and scuba diving, as scuba diving requires more equipment than snorkeling.

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving

The basic equipment used in snorkelling includes:

  • Snorkel
  • Diving mask
  • Fins

While the basic equipment used in scuba diving includes:

  • Fins
  • Two-stage regulator
  • Dive computer
  • Pressurised gas tank
  • Wetsuit or drysuit
  • Buoyancy compensator
  • Submersible pressure gauge

You can know more about scuba diving gear and equipment here: Scuba Diving Gear

Breathing Technique

Both snorkelling and scuba diving have their own breathing technique for a safe and enjoyable trip and experience.

  • In snorkelling, snorkelers use a snorkel tube to breath. They can keep such snorkel tube above the surface for breathing. If they go deeper, the snorkel might flood. However, a dry snorkel enables snorkelers to go underwater a bit deeper, as the top end of the tube automatically seals itself when submerged into water.
  • In scuba diving, divers use a scuba tank containing a breathing gas mixture and a two-stage regulator. This regulator reduces the pressure of the breathing gas coming from the tank to that of the ambient pressure of the water surrounding the scuba diver and delivers the gas via a mouthpiece.

Thus, divers can breathe as if they were on the surface.

Are Snorkelling & Scuba Diving Safe?

Diving, in general, entails risks, such as decompression sickness, arterial embolism, and drowning. Thus, snorkeling and scuba diving entail risks also.

  • Snorkelling is a low-risk activity that includes issues such as the possible occurring of jelly stings, suffering from lacerations caused by reefs and rocks and getting sunburns. Other serious risks may include drowning and getting hit by a jet ski or a motorised boat.
  • Scuba diving is a low-risk activity also, but it is more dangerous than snorkelling. Scuba diving risks include decompression sickness, drowning, gear malfunction and hypothermia.

To avoid the risks and dangers of scuba diving, have a look at these tips: Inclusive Scuba Diving Tips

Health Requirements

Snorkeling and scuba diving are so exciting water activities. Both need some health requirements before taking the adventure.

  • Snorkeling requires good cardiovascular health although it is easy on the body. Snorkelers should be fit to swim back to the shore. It is also important to avoid going into the water if you have a cold or if you are suffering from sunstroke.
  • Before going scuba diving, divers should tell about their health problems, such as heart and lung problems (especially asthma), ear issues, allergies, and other medical conditions that may affect them underwater, for scuba diving puts a strain on the body.
    It is important to consult with your doctor to determine if you are medically fit for scuba diving.

Training and Certification

Training and certification are the obvious difference between snorkeling and scuba diving.

  • Snorkelers do not require to undergo training or have certification before going into the water. However, some professional divers see that prior training is needed due to the risks to which the environment and snorkelers are exposed.
  • Unlike snorkelers, scuba divers need to undergo special training and obtain certification before going scuba diving. Dive operators, sale shops and rental shops require the divers to show their card before diving, purchasing and renting the gear.

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving

When Can I Start?

There is no age limit for the love of sea and water, but there is an age limit for taking the adventure to turn such love into reality.

  • In snorkeling, there is no age limit in general, but it is assumed that anyone aged 5 and above can snorkel if they wish. However, some snorkel operators may increase the age limit if the water and weather conditions are unsafe for kids.
  • Some scuba diving agencies have set the minimum age for diving to 10 years old. However, those agencies allow kids aged 8 to take their first breaths underwater in a pool or a shallow area. Young divers can become fully certified divers around the age of 15 and can get their certification after undergoing additional training.

Post-activity Considerations

There are some considerations you should take after finishing your activity.

  • When you have finished snorkeling, you are allowed to do whatever you want. However, make sure to not step on the reef as this may damage the ecosystems and cause lacerations to you.
  • There are some safety-related rules you have to follow when you have finished scuba diving. You should avoid flying, hiking, or ziplining for the next 24 hours from your dive. Also, you should avoid alcohol and intense physical activity.

Snorkelling & Scuba Diving, Which Is Better?

There is another difference between snorkeling and scuba diving and there are factors you need to consider before starting.

  • Although snorkelling is less cost than scuba diving, it does not allow you to explore as much water as you want. On the other hand, scuba diving requires training and is costlier than snorkelling.
  • Both snorkelling and scuba diving depends on your skills and personal preference. So if you feel confident in the water but prefer to explore the underwater from above, go snorkelling. If you are curious to dive deeper and explore the hidden beauty of underwater, go scuba diving.


Now, you get as brief words on the difference between snorkeling and scuba diving as you would like to know. Have a look at them and take your decision, then go.