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Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving – Which one should I choose?

Maybe you are deciding between investing in snorkeling gear or paying for a good diving tour. Or maybe you are evaluating to get a PADI certification, but you have doubts if snorkeling may be enough for you. Snorkeling vs scuba diving. What are the main differences? Which of them brings a better experience? These are questions that we want to answer in this article.

Many of the top tourist destinations in the world have one thing in common which is an unbelievable underwater experience. One of those top destinations happens to be Costa Rica and it is located in the Americas and it is situated between South America and Central America.

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving
Young man snorkeling

It also lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With its unique underwater terrain and nearby islands, it provides some of the best underwater experiences ever. Whether you prefer snorkeling or scuba diving, there is plenty to see.

Which is better Snorkeling or Scuba Diving?

In a snorkeling vs Scuba Diving battle, which practice wins? Both are brilliant sports in many ways. It is hard to compare the two.

Snorkeling is basically an underwater view from above and the scuba diving is an underwater view from within.

So, let’s dive a little deeper into the subject and learn somethings about both and you can decide for yourself.

We will begin by talking a little about each and then get into more details a little later on.

What is snorkeling?

Cute woman with snorkel mask
Cute woman with snorkel mask

Snorkeling is the act of swimming just below the surface of the water while breathing through a tube that extends up out of the water. This allows you to see the underwater scenery from a very high level. A very good way to view very swallow reef formations and other areas closer to shore. Not a lot of equipment is necessary to buy in order to go snorkeling on a vacation.

What is scuba diving

Scuba diving is defined as fully submerged swimming underwater with the aid of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. This allows you to get a much deeper and up close and personal experience with the marine life in waters surrounding your vacationing destination.

PADI Scuba diving online courses, a great opportunity to learn diving online

3 Risks of practicing scuba diving that you may don’t know

Is Scuba Diving Safe?

Some people worry about safty when they consider starting with scuba diving.

Scuba diving is catalogued a low-risk sport and nowadays it is safer than ever.

If you have got the training, which is mandatory to dive and to get your open water certification, there is little to no chance that you will have any problems.

As long as you follow the procedures, there should no be a risk at all.

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving, What are the similarities ?

When it comes to snorkeling and scuba diving there are some similarities and also some differences. Let’s look at the ways they are similar first.

Both snorkeling and scuba diving require you to be able to swim to some degree. You will be wearing swim fins to aid in swimming and there is a mask of some type that will be worn.

Practicing Scuba Diving

That is about it, the very short list of the ways that snorkeling and scuba diving are similar.

if you want to know more about scuba diving, this is also a good article to read.

What are the differences between Snorkeling and Scuba Diving?

While snorkeling and scuba diving share some characteristics, the differences are quite stark.

One of the main ways the two are different is that in snorkeling you are at the surface of the water and in scuba diving you are fully submerged and you can go down as deep as you feel safe going.

Snorkeling on top of the water

However, In order to go scuba diving on your own, you must first take a scuba diving class and pass a certification exam. Fortunately, this can be accomplished with the help of a local diving shop where you are vacationing.

Scuba diving gives you the feeling of being part of the marine life that surrounds you. Scuba diving brings you so much closer to the underwater world and you will be able to see the beautiful marine life and reef formations around you. This is more difficult to appreciate from the surface.

3 Reasons why Caño Island is a great Costa Rica diving destination

Drone footage at Caño Island, the best diving place in Costa Rica.

When thinking about snorkeling vs scuba diving, another important difference is the depth that can be reached. In diving you can go deeper and stay underwater for longer. Of course, you don’t have to hold your breath, unlike snorkeling.

The last way the two are different is in the equipment needed to snorkel and the equipment needed to scuba dive.

Required equipment for snorkeling

For snorkeling, the list of equipment needed to be able to go snorkeling is quite small.

  • A pair of swim fins.
  • One mask.
  • One Snorkel.

Those usually can be purchased ahead of time or simply rented from the dive shop.

Snorkeling Equipment

Depending on your buoyancy skills, you may need a floating vest, so you can safely stay on the surface and take in the underwater views. However, wearing a vest will not allow you to go a bit deeper to take a closer look at marine life.

Required equipment for scuba diving

The list of equipment necessary for Scuba Diving is larger and more expensive. Fortunately, you can rent all of the gear at your local dive center near you, during your vacations. The required items for scuba diving are:

  • The mask.
  • Wet suit.
  • Regulator.
  • Air tank.
  • Swim fins.
  • Weights.

Read also: How to choose the best scuba diving mask

If you are an experienced diver and you are diving with few partners or without a guide, we recommend using the computer. It is important that you have training and prior knowledge of how to use it. This will make your experience safer.

Scuba Diving Equipment wet suits

What is more difficult, snorkeling or diving?

Snorkeling could be easier to practice between these two underwater activities.

Scuba diving may require a little more preparation and training, and getting certified is always recommended, while snorkeling requires nothing special other than a mask.

Although it must be said that diving naturally leads to a more intimate contact with nature, exploring places that would otherwise be difficult to discover.

What things should you avoid when snorkeling?

First of all, don’t touch anything you don’t know. The first and most important rule when snorkeling is “Do not touch anything”, even more so if you do not know what it is, be it an object or an animal.

Secondly don’t forget about the buddy system or the buddy rule. Never go alone to the ocean.

Avoid touching the sea animals

Another good advice we can give you when you are snorkeling is “do not feed the fish.”

Always remember to move by swimming, instead of walking. That is, do not walk, rather nothing.

Last but not least, remember not to cross your limits, either because of what the guides are marking you, or if you realize that the place where you are going to go seems dangerous, it is better to avoid going.

How long can I be underwater with the snorkel?

The tube is just a breathing device, something like an aid. It does not have any artificial oxygen supply system. It helps you draw air from the surface of the water, without an external advantage or disadvantage. A person can normally hold their breath for anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on their physical condition.

Snorkeling tour

Can I snorkel if I don’t know how to swim?

This is a question that many people ask. The answer to this question is yes”.

If done the right way, those who don’t know how to swim yet can go snorkeling. The way to do this would be to go to water that is not very deep and whose currents are not so strong, so that you can feel safe and follow the instructions of the instructor.

Maybe you yourself need to feel safe when snorkeling, especially if you are doing it for the first time.

If you think it’s hard for you to float, it might make up for you to use a vest that ensures you stay on the surface, or a foam churro, so you don’t have to use your arms and legs to maintain your balance.

It may happen that we get scared or we feel that we are going to sink, and that is why we reach for the first thing we find… With the vest, you will avoid getting unnecessarily tired and you will not eliminate the need to hold on to something or support yourself to maintain control.

It is important to be willing to receive this type of “help” if we need it and not to neglect this option simply because we are embarrassed, since a controlled and smooth experience will allow us to enjoy it and make that moment pleasantly unforgettable.

Young boys snorkeling
Young boys snorkeling

Can I go scuba diving if I don’t know how to swim?

For a simple diving baptism, or a test in order to learn about this exciting sport, it is not an essential requirement to know how to swim.

Normally this activity is supervised by professional divers, who must be duly certified to train new divers.

The diving equipment such as the air bottle, the mask that can be the traditional or the complete one, and a pair of fins to be able to move underwater are essential elements.

For a better experience, the ability to move freely in the water, whether swimming on the surface or moving under it, is always an added bonus.

Have you heard about Snorkel and responsible diving?

What are we talking about? Perhaps in your experience in the practice of Snorkeling or Diving, inspecting the bottom, you may feel amazed at the underwater specimens you see (corals, shells, etc.) and you may feel like taking them with you.

Once upon a time, in times past when we were little and we went to the beach, we would take some of these marine species as a collection or as a souvenir of a distant trip.

But this custom today is so sensitive that it actually contributes to damaging the environment for various reasons. For example, shells serve as shelter for smaller animals, which use them as their home.

If we take them away, we will be depriving these animals of shelter and protection.

Another reason why we should not take these little animals from the beaches is that we are eliminating essential minerals such as calcium that should stay in the sea. In addition, by altering the environment with these practices, erosion is produced, which contributes to the disappearance of the beach.

If you say that you are carrying a single specimen and you think that they do not contribute to the damage, keep in mind that if we all do the same… It is not just you, but many people and that causes the damage! There are places where it is already expressly prohibited.

Something that does contribute to the beauty of the place you visit and enjoy is to collect and remove the garbage that you find in your experience, to leave the sea better than you found it.

So, Snorkeling vs Scuba diving. Which is better?

We leave it to your discretion. What we can say is that both provide a unique and different experience. If you are a snorkeling enthusiast, we encourage you to try Scuba Diving.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are both water activities that allow you to experience something special when visiting a destination like Costa Rica.

If that is where you plan to vacation next, you will want to stop in at Costa Rica Dive and Surf Dive Shop, located in Uvita, Puntarenas.

They will be able to handle all of your snorkeling and scuba diving needs when looking to enjoy the waters around Caño Island, one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica.

Send us a message ! We will be happy to help you !