Here’s the Difference Between Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

10 Jan 2017

Here’s the Difference Between Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Everyone knows how to use a snorkel. The funny shaped tubes are a staple in nearly every backyard pool.

But, the snorkel actually has practical application beyond the swimming pool.

From marine biologists to tourists, snorkeling provides an extended glimpse of the underwater world most people never experience.

However, the snorkel only gets you so far into our planet’s oceans.

Upper water column marine life is fascinating, but, soon enough, people yearn to visit the depths unattainable with their snorkel.

Venturing deeper underwater requires scuba gear, and with it, training and knowledge.

The difference between snorkeling and scuba diving is enough that the transition between the two won’t happen overnight. But don’t worry, scuba diving is well worth your time.

After all, what compares to visiting unknown depths and seeing marine life most people have never imagined?

Here’s our guide of what you’ll want to know when moving from the snorkel to scuba gear.

The Difference Between Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: The Obvious

It might seem obvious, but the biggest difference between snorkeling and scuba diving is the exploration potential and gear. We’ll break down the two in a little more detail.


Snorkeling lets swimmers explore reefs around 5 meters deep. It’s a limited sense of exploration, but certainly of value.

More experienced snorkelers often free dive, though your lung capacity is still limiting.

Scuba diving unlocks the true beauty and expanse of our underwater world. Shipwrecks come to life, multitudes of fish species swim by, and the vastness of the oceans becomes clear.

Scuba oxygen tanks allow divers the ability to explore farther and longer than a snorkel ever will. Even novice divers routinely reach depths of 12 meters. Expert divers can explore our world 40 meters down.

Uninhibited exploration awaits for those with an air tank and some time.


Luckily for those moving from snorkels to scuba gear, much of the equipment overlaps. Both require fins, a wetsuit, snorkel mouth piece, and diving mask.

However, despite the similarities, scuba diving significantly increases equipment costs.

Oxygen tanks, diving regulators, tubing, buoyancy controller devices, and weight systems can add up in price.

Make sure you’re willing to commit to scuba diving before making the jump from snorkels.

But once you buy your new gear, it lasts a lifetime. Many divers even form bonds with their favorite mask, wetsuit, etc., that have been with them on many adventures.

The Difference Between Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: The Dangerous

One major between snorkeling and scuba diving is the danger associated with the scuba diving.

The real risk of injury means that scuba divers have to worry about regulations that snorkelers don’t. But a little training makes danger a formality.


Scuba divers must know the dangers associated with their trade and plan accordingly.

Rising too quickly from the depths produces what are commonly know as “the bends,” or nitrogen sickness. This condition has life-threatening health impacts on muscle and nervous tissues.

Other dangers include nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, and panic attacks.

While these risks are very real, so are the risks associated with most adventurous activities. What’s life without a little spice?

And seeing the beauty of the undersea world will make you forget all about those risks.

If you’re still having doubts, know that scuba divers are certified by several different organizations in order to bring risk close to zero. There are a few steps to this process.


Scuba certification includes several levels ranging from certified open water diver to master diver.

The basic certification course includes basic scuba theory, practice using scuba equipment, and the real world application of skills.

The courses are offered across the country and don’t require anything more than a pool and some open water.

It’s extremely important to pay attention in these classes to minimize the aforementioned risks of scuba diving.

Classes are always lots of fun, coached by divers who truely love the ocean and are passionate about sharing their love with the world.

Hopefully, our guide gives you insight into the world of scuba diving and some ideas of how to start your own diving adventures.

There’s nothing quite like the freedom scuba allows to explore our underwater world.