Difference Between Scuba Diving and Snorkeling – Honest Comparisons

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling1
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You’ve come to the right place if you’re interested in a relaxing snorkeling trip or want to step it up with some challenging scuba diving.

Decide whether you’re a scuba diver or a snorkeler first, though. What makes snorkeling different from scuba diving? How much background is necessary for these activities? Continue reading to find out the answers to all of your snorkeling vs. scuba diving questions.

What Are Scuba Diving And Snorkeling

If you like to see marine life in its natural habitat, scuba diving and snorkeling are both fantastic activities. The air supply is the main distinction between scuba diving and snorkeling. You can stay underwater longer and dive deeper if you breathe from a scuba tank, but it takes additional training.

Continue reading if you like to snorkel and are interested in scuba diving. You should continue reading even if you don’t enjoy snorkeling. To enjoy both, you don’t have to like one.

Differences Between Scuba Diving And Snorkeling

Air Supply

Scuba divers use a mouthpiece connected to a durable hose to draw air from tanks they carry on their backs (or alongside their bodies). Conversely, snorkelers use a tube to draw air from the surface.

The word “scuba” is actually an acronym, in case you weren’t already aware of this. Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus is referred to as SCUBA.

Maximum Depth

A snorkeler can typically descend 3–4 meters (12–15 feet) underwater. The maximum depth that skilled snorkelers can reach is 7 meters (25 feet). Comparatively, skilled divers can descend as far as 40 meters (130 feet). Don’t worry, scuba students aren’t required or permitted to dive that deep. It’s unlikely that you will make dives deeper than 12 meters (40 feet) during your PADI scuba certification course.


In comparison to snorkelers, scuba divers wear a lot more gear. A regulator is a name given to the breathing device in the previous paragraph. Fun fact: To create Darth Vader’s eerie, foreboding breathing, the Star Wars production crew used a scuba regulator.

Additionally, divers need a buoyancy control device or BCD. There are other ways to change your buoyancy besides an inflatable vest, which is the most popular type of BCD. Dry suit divers have the option of inflating and deflating their suits to adjust their buoyancy.

Difference Between Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Trips & Tours

Once you have your equipment, you need to go diving! In some locations (like Bonaire, for instance), you can simply step into the water and find excellent snorkeling or scuba diving right next to the shore. Almost always, that will be free.

However, for the majority of locations around the world, you’ll be better off joining a scuba or snorkeling tour and traveling by boat with a guide to the best locations that aren’t immediately accessible from the beach. The cost of a tour can vary greatly depending on your location (for instance, Hawaii is typically going to be much more expensive than Indonesia) and the size of your group.

I’ve discovered that a location like Cancun in Mexico is a respectable global average. For snorkeling tours in Cancun, typical day trips typically cost $75 to $150 per person, whereas scuba tours frequently cost $100 to $200 per person. Bali will cost less, while Maui will cost more.

There isn’t much of a price difference between snorkeling and scuba tours, and frequently, these tours will include (very, very basic) rental gear as part of your tour cost, which could save you some money, but it’s still something to think about.

Training Time And Cost To Get Started

Snorkeling is fairly simple to learn if you already know how to swim. Basic snorkeling techniques can be learned in no more than 30 minutes by people of all ages.

It takes at least three days of in-water instruction to learn to scuba dive, but usually four. A home study component is also included, which goes over buoyancy, scuba diving terms, and other fundamentals. PADI’s interactive online training program PADI eLearning® is used by the vast majority of diving students. You must dedicate a minimum of four days to the home study and in-water training before you can receive your Open Water Diver certification, which is valid forever.

What You Get To See

The fact that you get to see so much more of the underwater environment is one of the main benefits of scuba diving. In contrast to snorkeling, there are no time restrictions on breath holds. You can explore deeper and stay longer, which means you can:

  • Wait for an octopus to come out of its hole
  • Watch color-changing cuttlefish put on a show
  • Experience a manta ray ballet
  • See a turtle get its shell cleaned


Planning and preparation for snorkeling are extremely minimal. All you need to do to get started is toss your snorkeling gear into a bag along with a rashguard or some sunscreen that won’t harm the coral reefs. You are free to enter and exit the water as often as you like.

Scuba diving requires a little more preparation due to the equipment needed. The time between dives must be spent on the surface, and you cannot fly in an airplane within 18 to 24 hours of scuba diving. Last but not least, even though people of all ages and abilities enjoy scuba diving, those who have certain medical conditions might need a doctor’s okay before they can dive.


The issue is not which is superior, but rather which is best for your needs. Given our table above, you ought to have a good idea of what you can do at your present level of swimming ability and what you’ll need to do based on your intended use for submerging yourself.

Whatever you decide to do, put your safety first so you can get the most out of the experience. Have fun!

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