7 Differences Between Snorkeling vs. Scuba Diving: Which is More Fun? (2022)

by LeeLeah on March 28, 2022
snorkeling vs. scuba diving
People yearn for the sea may have heard of snorkeling and scuba diving, both of which seem to be the sport of submerging your body underwater to enjoy the magnificent ocean, but what is the difference between them?
This article will introduce the differences between snorkeling vs. scuba diving from the following 7 aspects. I hope to help you decide the one you want to try first.
2. Activity range
3. Underwater duration
4. Equipment
5. Skills needed
6. Potential risks
7. Suitable for the crowd


1. Definition

Snorkeling is a sport of using a snorkel to swim on the surface of the water.
The process of snorkeling is divided into floating and snorkeling while holding your breathe. Floating is to lie on your stomach on the water surface with the buoyancy of seawater. At this time, you rely on the snorkel to breathe air, and your head needs to be constantly raised to breath and save energy. Most snorkeling while holding your breathe are carried out by fin swimming. During the snorkeling process, you generally rest on the water surface in a floating state.
Scuba diving refers to the diving activities carried out by divers with underwater breathing systems, which is a kind of diving that really allows you to dive into the bottom of the water. It can make people breathe continuously in the water and enjoy a leisure time that you swim like a fish.
 scuba diving

2. Activity range

Most of the snorkeling time is spent on the water surface, and the depth you can dive into is only about 1-3 meters. The activity range is limited, and for safety reasons, you should not go too far from the shore. So you can only see the corals and fish from a distance instead of up close, and the species of marine life that can be seen are relatively limited.

scuba diving

Scuba diving activity range can be down to the bottom of the sea to a depth of up to 30 meters. You can get close to corals, fish and algae, integrate with nature as one, enjoy the scenery of the underwater world, and more freely come and go underwater.

3. Underwater duration

If the top of your snorkel is above the water while snorkeling, you can enjoy the ocean view without time limit. If diving deeper, an adult can usually hold their breath for 45 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on each individual's physical condition. This time can also be increased with breathing exercises.
Scuba diving duration is affected by tank volume, dive depth and air consumption rate. All other factors being equal, a tank that holds more air will last longer underwater. Water pressure compresses the air leaving the tank and flowing through the scuba diver's regulator, and the deeper the dive, the higher the pressure and the faster the air in the tank is consumed.
Taller divers with larger lung volumes require more air than shorter divers with smaller lung volumes and therefore typically have a higher air consumption rate. Relaxed, slow and deep breathing is often an effective way for divers to reduce their air consumption rate.

4. Equipment

Snorkeling equipment is relatively simple, including snorkels, masks and fins. Scuba diving requires more equipment.
Snorkeling: snorkels, masks, fins, diving suit, snorkeling gloves, snorkeling boots, life jacket or swimming arm ring
Scuba diving: buoyancy compensator (BC), regulator, diving instruments, scuba tank, diving suits, diving boots, diving gloves, diving knives, hood, weight & belt, diving light, diving tablets, diving watches, diving below
scuba diving equipment
Other general equipment: underwater DV/DC, quick-drying bath towel, sunscreen, medicine cabinet, waterproof dry bag and waterproof phone case

5. Skills needed

Snorkeling requires you to submerge your eyes, nose and mouth underwater and be covered by a mask. You can breathe through a snorkel attached to an L- or J-shaped tube that takes air from above the water surface. Sometimes the snorkel is also submerged underwater and the diver expels water by exhaling or tilting their head slightly as they return to the surface.
  • When snorkeling, the water in the mask and the fogging of the mask will make people lose their vision. It will also cause choking and make people panic, so it is necessary to master the mask drainage skills.
  • Chances are high that the water enters the snorkel. As long as you wear the snorkel at the wrong angle or the waves are slightly larger, the snorkel will be full of water. In addition, water will also enter the snorkel when you rise from the bottom to the surface. At this time, you need to use the drainage skill to remove the water from the snorkel and continue to breathe.
  • Activities in water are very different from those on land, especially in water, where resistance is high and activity is more laborious, so a lot of oxygen is needed. Therefore, proper breathing control is also a way to reduce carbon dioxide production and buildup.
 scuba diving instruction
Scuba diving: The diver is completely underwater, cannot breathe through the nose, and needs to take in air through the regulator mouthpiece.
Since scuba diving requires divers to carry a lot of specialized equipment, it is necessary to be proficient in the operation of various equipment. The only source of air for divers underwater is the air in the tank, so divers will estimate the amount of air remaining by their own breathing or changes in air consumption rate and validate their judgment by checking the SPG (Submersible Pressure Gauge).
Besides, a good diver is able to easily perform back kicks, vertical-raising kicks and horizontal raising, all of which require the use of inflation systems, breath control and ankles for buoyancy control. And he/she is able to easily catch the right time to dive or surface to dive in a variety of environments.

scuba diving skills

When you can approach marine life quietly and silently, it shows that you are a competent scuba diver. Approaching marine life quietly without disturbing them requires good buoyancy control, precise foot  movement speed and slow,relaxed breathing. A competent scuba diver, even with a camera in hand, will pull back without disturbing marine life.
It can be seen that the skills required for scuba diving are more complex. If you want to experience the fun of scuba diving for a long time, it is best to get certified. Without the relevant certification, you need to enter the sea with a diving instructor, and you can't dive deeper than 12 meters.

6. Potential risks

Many people think that snorkeling is easier than scuba diving, so it is safer, this is actually not true. In fact, snorkeling and scuba diving are equally risky, and people are more likely to drown when snorkeling than scuba diving.


But it doesn't mean that they are dangerous. As long as you understand the dangers, stay away from them, master the appropriate skills, and use the equipment scientifically, everyone can effectively avoid risks and enjoy the fun of snorkeling and scuba diving.
Without snorkeling training, snorkelers are prone to drowning if they do not use snorkel equipment such as snorkel tubes and flippers correctly and do not know how to drain the snorkel. In addition, snorkelers can also encounter the following hidden dangers:
  • Undertow will push people out to sea, causing you to get farther and farther from the beach, you only stay in place even swimming hard. If you are exhausted or choked, accidents may happen.
  • Cut by a speedboat propeller
  • Scratched by coral and shells
  • Bites/stings from marine life
  • Getting close to a seaside reef can also hurt. The rocks by the sea are slippery and it is easy to fall from them. The force of the wave impact will also make it easy to hit the rocks head on.
Since scuba diving is more complicated than snorkeling, you must go through systematic training and be certified before you can use the equipment in the sea. Scuba divers are naturally familiar with the manipulation of equipment and how to deal with problems in emergencies. They understand the rules and know how to avoid risks, so the safety factor will be higher.
And the comprehensive equipment for scuba diving allows you to breathe freely under the water, adjust enough buoyancy and to use proper swimming skills at the surface to avoid the risk of drowning.
Scuba diving also has a dive guide and buddy system, that divers look out for each other underwater, also providing safety.

dive buddy

Some of the most common diving-related illnesses are ear barotrauma, decompression sickness, and pulmonary barotrauma, but these conditions can often be avoided with proper training and preparation.

7. Suitable for the crowd

Neither exercise is recommended for people who are too old or too young. Even non-swimmers can snorkel and scuba dive as long as they are fit. The age requirement for scuba diving certification is at least 10 years old.

People at risk for snorkeling:

People with respiratory or heart conditions, or those who normally tend to breathe poorly, such as heart disease, asthma, epilepsy, smokers and obese people, are at risk of coma due to hypoxia while holding their breath underwater.

People with ear, nose, throat, and lung diseases are not suitable for deep diving:

Because the pressure of the water during the deep dive is too great, lung will be squeezed, which will lead to poor breathing.
Also, people who are afraid of water are not recommended to snorkel or scuba dive. Under water where life is measured in minutes and seconds, only to stay calm and not chaotic in the face of danger, can you properly handle an accident. The panic caused by fear of water can be life-threatening. The panic caused by fear of water can be life-threatening. Fear of water may also be a psychological disorder, which can be worse if forced into the water.


Snorkeling is easier to master than scuba diving and allows you to experience the joy of being one with the sea the fastest. Scuba diving, on the other hand, allows you to get up close to marine life and observe the wonders of the ocean world in more detail, but you will need to go through longer and more expensive professional training.
Snorkeling or scuba diving, which do you prefer?
Let me know your choice and why in the comments section below.