What the Difference Between Snorkeling and Scuba Diving?

Pat Green   Sep 21, 2021

Snorkeling and scuba diving are both fun ways to get in the water and explore aquatic life. While they are similar in some respects, they are more different than they are the same. Here are some of the basic differences between snorkeling and scuba diving.


Snorkeling: Snorkeling is a fun activity that you can do when you’re traveling for vacation. You can observe fish, algae, coral reefs, and other sea life.

Snorkeling is ideal in bodies of water with minimal waves and warmer temperatures. There are plenty of interesting things to see near the surface of the water, and that’s what you’ll see when you go snorkeling.

Scuba Diving: Scuba diving has both recreational and professional purposes. Recreationally, you can go cave diving, wreck diving, and ice diving. Professional scuba divers participate in civil engineering, underwater welding, and offshore construction for military purposes.


Snorkeling: When it comes to equipment, snorkeling is relatively simple. All you really need is a snorkeling mask, a snorkel with a mouthpiece, and some fins for your feet. Because you breathe on your own through the snorkel and don’t go underwater completely, you don’t need oxygen tanks or anything like that.

Scuba Diving: Scuba diving is a little more complicated compared to snorkeling. You will be completely submerged in the water and able to go several feet under, so you need some more equipment. A typical dive includes a pressurized oxygen tank strapped to your back and a single hose that allows you to breathe that oxygen in. You will also need a mask that is basically the same as a snorkeling mask, swim fins, and a wetsuit.


Snorkeling: Snorkeling requires no training. You stay in shallow reefs ranging from three to 12 feet, or you can go deeper if you’d like. If you’re planning to go underwater and holding your breath, that typically requires more practice. However, you can get in the water for the first time without needing any experience.

Scuba Diving: There is quite a bit of training involved when it comes to scuba diving. You need to learn how to use the breathing equipment, understand the safety procedures, and be knowledgeable of potential troubleshooting techniques. Don’t worry though. If you’re already on vacation, make resorts and excursion hosts offer training before you go out on your adventure.

To put it simply, snorkeling requires less training, equipment, and experience than scuba diving does. However, wearing a flat scuba or snorkeling mask will make objects appear 34% bigger and 25% closer while you’re underwater, so you get to see really cool things either way.