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What is the Difference Between Snorkeling and Diving?

For those new to underwater adventures, it can be unclear what the difference between snorkeling and scuba diving is. There is a clear distinction, however, and you must understand which activity is best for you.


Snorkeling is swimming near the surface of the water with a snorkel, a type of breathing tube, and a mask. This trip takes place at the top of the water and doesn’t include deep dives. Snorkelers can take photos and look down at the underwater views from above.

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving, as the name implies, is a diving activity with the help of a breathing apparatus called a scuba that allows the diver to stay underwater for significant lengths of time. Scuba diving allows you to immerse yourself in the marine experience and get up close and personal with the environment.

To recap, scuba diving is a diving activity, while snorkeling is a swimming activity that doesn’t involve deep dives.

There are a few other differences between the two activities, the first of which is the equipment needed for each. Depending on the location, snorkeling can include a wetsuit, but all you need is your snorkel, mask, and a set of fins. Scuba diving requires much more equipment, like a suit, regulator, gas tank, and buoyancy compensator.

The skill level required for each underwater activity is also a key difference. Snorkeling can be done by any experienced swimmer, while scuba diving requires professional training and a certificate.

The final key difference is the length of time spent underwater. Snorkelers will only be underwater as long as they can hold their breath and will spend most of the time breathing through the snorkel, while scuba divers spend much longer periods underwater.

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