Being able to explore an underwater world full of life, colour and endless views on a coral reef has to be a pinnacle experience. One that must be crossed off the to-do list at some point in life. Whether it’s taking up diving with a snorkel as a hobby or making it a yearly tradition on your Summer holiday.
One thing to note through this beginner’s guide to scuba diving and snorkelling is that snorkelling can be done by anyone, while scuba diving requires a licence. So, throughout this guide, we’ll be taking you through everything you could possibly need to know about snorkelling vs scuba diving.
Here at The Hobby Kraze, it’s important for us to be able to cover everything so that you can make informed decisions and investments about your new hobbies. Whether it’s looking at the latest and greatest scuba diving gear or finding which new underwater adventure suits you.
Check out everything we’ll be covering in this ultimate beginner’s guide to scuba diving and snorkelling:
- Is This Beginner’s Guide to Scuba Diving and Snorkelling for You?
- The History of Snorkelling VS Scuba Diving
- The Basics of Swimming and What to Try First
- Getting Your New Snorkelling Equipment
- Becoming Mindful and Practising Breathing Technique for Diving with A Snorkel
- Diving into the World of Scuba Diving and Terms You’ll Need to Know
- How and Where to Gain a Scuba Diving License
- Scuba Diving Gear You’ll Need to Invest in for a Full-Time Hobby
- The Most Beautiful Places to Go Scuba Diving Around the World
A top tip before we get started is to think about your experiences in the water. Things such as; if you’re comfortable with deep water, if you got your mile badge in swimming lessons or even if you’ve got mindful breathing techniques nailed. Of course, the team here at The Hobby Kraze will be deep diving into each of these points with you, but it can help you gain perspective on the right hobby for you.
Is This Beginner’s Guide to Scuba Diving and Snorkelling for You?
With the world being 71% water, it’s no surprise to hear so many of us land mammals wanting to dive down to explore an entirely new world of potential hobby fun. And, with various ways to do this, you have an important decision to make; snorkelling vs scuba diving.
As a scuba diver, you can even branch out into different hobby adventures or even lifelong careers. For example; becoming an underwater goods retrieval associate with the help of a handy meta detector. You can check out The Hobby Kraze’s Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to metal Detection and Collecting for more information. Other avenues include working at water wildlife centres, becoming an instructor, aiding in charitable rescues and more.
As a snorkeller, however, you don’t need a license, heavy equipment or investment summaries. Instead, you can take your swimsuit and snorkel with you everywhere and enjoy distant views of underwater mountains and sea life with anyone.
Here’s some other benefits to taking up a hobby with snorkelling equipment or scuba diving gear:
- It increases cardiovascular health
- Your breathing technique will improve
- You get to feel weightless
- It is great for weight loss
- You can improve your swimming skills
- Being underwater can be very relaxing
- Snorkelling vs scuba diving hobbies are stress relieving
- You get to experience escapism
- Snorkelling can be enjoyed by anyone
- Snorkelling is very inexpensive and can be done anywhere
- Scuba diving allows you to become familiar with underwater gear
- With a scuba diving license, other avenues to world exploration are opened
- Water exercises help with joint mobility
- Your mental health will benefit
- The happy hormones and endorphins are released
- It can improve your concentration capabilities
- You can travel across the world to scuba dive or snorkel underwater
- Friends and family can join in
- Wearing a camera will capture the most beautiful memories
- You’ll feel free in the water
- You get to meet new friendly underwater faces
- Both hobbies improve blood circulation and reduces high blood pressure
The History of Snorkelling VS Scuba Diving
As scuba diving includes carrying tanks of air, it can be easily accepted that it came about after a wave of snorkelling took the world by storm. Finding out that an underwater world could be discovered and explored by the many only gave us humans the urge to look deeper.
Looking back nearly three thousand years, our ancestors would use reed-like contraptions to be able to look into the water while swimming and breathing through the upward reed. The reason people felt the need to do such a – then – strange task would be to farm the sponges off the coast of the Greek island of Crete.
Then, it wasn’t until Aristotle’s student, Alexander the great, would take a new contraction named the Diving Bell to the bottom of the ocean in 333 B.C. Greece. This bell was lowered into the water trapping air as it descended. A diver could travel in the bell and, when at the bottom, could jump into the water to explore the surrounding areas. But, this ended up being too limiting for our explorative ancestors.
15th Century engineer, Leonardo DaVinci, would create innovative designs and drawings of fins and breathing tubes. All of which would find their way into the modern snorkelling equipment and scuba diving gear we see today. For example; his invention for webbed fingers paved way for the swimmingly useful fins we stretch over our feet.
Then, in the 1820s, the first ever successful diving suit was created that allowed divers to submerge and breathe air from the surface through pipes. This strong progress was down to the Deane brothers but was actually made for – and, patented as – the Smoke Helmet. This is because they were inspired by firefighters needing access to breathable air.
Afterwards, came the 1830s Siebe Helmet which came attached to a fully functional wet bodysuit. This closed diving suit would connect an air pump to the surface for people to breathe and move freely. And, it became the first prototype to the large copper head pieces we picture when we think of historical scuba diving gear.
In fact, this helmet is called the Mark V Helmet and was developed for usage by the US Navy. This Mark V Helmet is actually still in production to order. However, since then, there have been many leaps and bounds in the timeline and innovation of snorkelling equipment and scuba diving gear that takes us to the scuba tanks and masks we see today.
For example; the first closed-circuit suit model designed in 1940. It was developed by Christian Lambersten and advanced by the US Navy for the war effort. However, due to the look of these suits and helmets; the men who would wear them were called frogmen. So, Christian Lambersten coined the term Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus which was shortened to the renowned name; SCUBA.
Finally, the introduction of the Aqua Lung. This device was designed and manufactured by business partners Jacques Cousteau and Émile Gagnan. It was an gas tank designed to be carried on a diver’s back and attached to a helmet. While it was not the first of its kind, it brought modern day scuba diving and scuba diving gear into the mainstream of hobbies.
The Basics of Swimming and What to Try First
The first thing you need to do and know about when it comes to snorkelling vs scuba diving is knowing how to swim. A.K.A. the ultimate beginners guide to scuba diving and snorkelling and not drowning, too.
There are four main swimming strokes you should be aware of and comfortable with before heading further down into the water. And, no, the doggy paddle is not constituted as a swim stroke you should use. Before heading off into the four swim strokes, you should know there is a position called the glide. This is when your body is extended into the direction of travel to help streamline for speed. The arms will be in front and the legs straight behind. Now, let’s think about the four swim strokes:
- Front Crawl
Breaststroke is the most relaxing and easy of the four strokes to master. This is because it features minimal splashing and maximum balance within the water. After this, it is front crawl, backstroke and butterfly. All we can say is good luck with butterfly.
The first step, other than wading yourself into the water at waist-height, would be to kick forward off the ground and into your glide position. As the momentum depletes begin your stroke of choice.
Getting Your New Snorkelling Equipment
When you’re happy with all the swimming strokes and you’ve got to grips with not touching the bottom of the pool, your confidence can take you into the realm of snorkelling. And, while the team here at The Hobby Kraze wants you to be able to go out and enjoy the bright blue ocean, you’ve got to master the art of snorkelling in the pool, first.
However, step one would be adding the best snorkelling equipment to your shopping basket! Here’s a list of the all the tools you’ll need for your first attempt diving with a snorkel:
- A Snorkel
- A Mask
- Swimming Pants
And, that really is all you need. Which is why the beauty of snorkelling is so freeing to everyone. The minimal equipment needed for the adventure makes it cheap, accessible, comfortable and portable. If you want to take a smart watch to measure your speed, distance, depth and other statistics, you can. It will also help you monitor your heart rate.
Becoming Mindful and Practising Breathing Technique for Diving with A Snorkel
The most important aspect to the beginner’s guide to scuba diving and snorkelling is finding out how to master the breathing techniques for your adventure. Whether it’s getting to grips with holding your breath underwater, beginning to trust your mouth and snorkel to keep you breaking or practicing holding your breath longer for an extended dive adventure.
The first thing you need to do is sit on dry land and practice mindful breathing. In order to do this, begin sat with your legs crossed. Relax your arms on your knees, close your eyes and sit up straight. Look ahead and think about your breathing. Practice changing between chest-breathing and belly breathing to allow you to strengthen your core and adjust the way you breathe in the water to match the pressure.
After 60 breaths in this position place your hands in the air, over your head, and look up. Continue to practice mindful breathing techniques and then you’ll be able to practice holding your breath or continuing the same pattern of breathing while moving.
When you’re ready to hit the water, wade through to your waist, get your snorkel and mask on, make sure your snorkel is perpendicular to your head and place your face in the water. When your face is submerged, you can adjust the snorkel to make sure it is safely out of the water and able to give you air. Here’s is where you can practice breathing just through your snorkel.
Diving into the World of Scuba Diving and Terms You’ll Need to Know
Terminology can be everything for scuba diving. From making sure you’re buying the right scuba diving gear to being able to effectively communicate with your diving pod. Here at The Hobby Kraze, the team have put together the essential glossary for you to get to grips with before starting your ultimate underwater adventure:
- Breathing Gas
You should never say oxygen when referring to the contents of the scuba tank in your scuba diving gear. This is because the scuba tank contains a mixture of gas that you would breathe in the outside environment. Having a tank filled purely with oxygen will make you very high. Technical divers might refer to their breathing gas as Trimix or Nitrox, instead.
- Scuba Tank and Cylinder
The scuba tank or cylinder (but, never oxygen tank) is the tank of gas that sits on your back between your shoulder blades as you dive. This matches outside air with only 21% oxygen. And, the likelihood of you ever breathing from an oxygen tank is very low and only applicable in severe emergencies.
Another addition in the ‘don’t say that, say this’ glossary, a scuba diver uses a fin to dive with rather than a flipper. Even if it doesn’t make sense in terms of fins and flippers; a fin is protruding limb to help with balance and direction, but a flipper is a flattened limb used to propel through the water. A fin the is the tool used in scuba diving.
After you’ve completed your scuba diving course and are able to venture out into the big blue, you’ll be given a C-Card. This is a certification card you’ll need to show police, fishermen, diving instructors, resort officials and so on. The card details your accomplishments as a scuba diver including the date you finished the course, the name of the instructor and if you’ve done any refresher courses.
Standing for ‘Buoyancy Control Device’, it is slightly different from a normal PDF (personal floatation device). This is because it is a small pouch or vest that is on the scuba diver and air is added when necessary. When air gets added or removed, it is to help a scuba achieve natural buoyancy, meaning they can float in the water without sinking or rising. But, don’t worry, the beginner’s guide to scuba diving and snorkelling is not the only place you’ll hear this; it will be covered in your course.
Not referring to a scuba diver named Dan, it stands for ‘Divers Alert Network’. This network of individuals provides scubas all around the world with the necessary information they need in order to experience a successful and fun dive. DAN also offers diver accident and travel insurance, too.
- Octopus and Regulator
Even though we are in the same watery realm as these intelligent cephalopods, the octopus is actually the pipe that connects you to your scuba tank. Between the ‘octo’ and you, is your regulator. This is the mouthpiece you’ll need to carefully practice breathing through before heading off on your hobby tour of the deep.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors is the go-to for learning how to complete your scuba course and gain your C-Card. They are a worldwide organisation offering varying scuba courses, including the divemaster card required for the United States Navy.
- Open Water
Open water refers to any body of water that is natural or larger than a swimming pool. For example; a lake or the ocean. It is the first level of scuba training your do in order to obtain your C-Card. And, a tip from The Hobby Kraze crew is to make sure you’re happy to swim in open water before trying for your certification.
This refers to a type of freediving where you hold your breath the entire time. And, freediving is the not-too-recommended hobby of deep-sea diving without a scuba tank, snorkel or any other snorkelling vs scuba diving equipment. Maybe, master the art of diving with a snorkel or swimming with scuba diving gear before trying apnea.
This is how you will be entering the water with your heavy scuba diving gear. If you’re on a boat and not able to wade through from the shoreline, you’ll need a quick and effective way to enter the water without suffering decompression sickness or accidentally moving your octo or regulator. Quite simply, you sit on the side of the boat (facing inward) and backroll into the water.
The bends (or, bent) is the name given to the feeling of a sharp pain when suffering with DCS. DCS (decompression sickness) happens when a diver ascends too quickly, and nitrogen bubbles are released into the body. These particular sharp pains are called bends.
The DPV is a diver propulsion vehicle and can be a diver’s best friend when wanting to dive deep down without expelling much effort. This effort is often needed to be saved for emergencies when travelling for a long time. So, this small vehicle is held in front of the diver with both hands and propels them through the water.
One of the most interesting terms to intrigue the majority of the team here at The Hobby Kraze is thermocline. This is a point where the water temperature will drastically change as a diver is passing through different ‘layers’ of water. For example, where saltwater and freshwater meet.
How and Where to Gain a Scuba Diving License
As you probably guessed from the beginner’s guide to scuba diving and snorkelling glossary, the place to go is PADI. You’ll be able to find a dive shop near you where you can meet instructors and begin your course to become a certified open water diver.
Once you’ve got your location and your instructor in check, you’ll be able to move onto the three parts of your diving course:
The first part of your deep-water dive will be more reading and revision. However, this can be done through eLearning and by reading the specially published PADI Open Water Diver Manual.
This segment of your course will take you through the core concepts of diving such as; how to plan an effective dive, making sure your scuba diving gear with snorkelling equipment is right for you and learning the required underwater signals and diving procedures. Before moving on, you’ll take an exam to make sure you’ve got the required knowledge to get underwater.
Confined Water Dives
When we say confined water dives, these could either be at your local swimming pool, in the pool at a beach resort you’re staying at or even in the fish tank at a nearby aquarium.
A top tip from the team here at The Hobby Kraze would be to choose a PADI open water diving course that takes place at an aquarium such as; The Blue Planet Aquarium, Sea Life or UK Aquatics. This is because you’ll be able to get an idea of diving with sea life while in the comfort of a controlled environment.
However, the initial things about the snorkelling vs scuba diving world you’ll learn about include:
- Setting up your scuba diving gear
- Getting seeped water out of your face mask
- Efficiently getting in and out of the water
- Knowing how to handle buoyancy control
- Understanding the basic underwater navigations
- Finding out all the necessary safety procedures
We won’t be able to tell you how long you will be spending at the second stage of your open water scuba diving course. This is because it is all down to you, your instructor, your confidence, your availability and your learning retention. Which can be the best part to these kinds of courses. They are often tailored to you in order to ensure safety of you and those around you.
Open Water Dives
The final stage is learning how to be confident in the open water. You have the option to complete these final dives close to home or wait until you’re on holiday to make the most of the beautiful ocean and its wildlife.
The open water dives consist of four dives. And, they will often happen over two consecutive days. Once you’re finished, you’ll be given your C-Card and the freedom to scuba dive whenever and wherever you’d like.
Scuba Diving Gear You’ll Need to Invest in for a Full-Time Hobby
Again, we’ve gotten all the way to the fun shopping segment. You know all the terminology and you know how you’ll be getting your C-Card. Of course, when you’re in training, you have the opportunity to rent and borrow the scuba diving gear before heading out to your scuba shop to drop the cash. Which is what we would recommend.
Our aim here at The Hobby Kraze is to get you paired up with the right hobbies. And, this can sometimes mean dipping your toes into the many different hobbies that are out there (and, there are far too many to count). So, the last thing we want is to encourage you to spend money on a hobby only for you to find it wasn’t the right one. Therefore, we’ll always suggest borrowing or renting your equipment, first.
Either way, we’ve got the ultimate list of scuba diving gear you’ll need to dive right in!
- Torch Light
- Head Mounted Camera
- Depth Gauge
- Pressure Gauge
- Tank Bangers
- Scuba Tank
- Neoprene Diving Shoes
- Weight belt
- Scuba Gloves
- Dive Computer Watch
The Most Beautiful Places to Go Scuba Diving Around the World
Now you’re ready to be shown the most beautiful places to begin using your scuba diving gear around the world. Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mention a few places close to The Hobby Kraze’s ‘ultimate guide’ home in the UK, so they’ll be dotted in there, too.
However, we can contest that nobody has yet to find a mermaid on the ocean floor. But, only 5% has been mapped by ocean adventurers and scientists. So, who’s to say you can’t discover something new in your worldly hobby travels.
Whether you’re looking for a warm and colourful coral reef adventure or the deep blue dive into the icy caves, we’ve got the destination for you. But, they may make your snorkelling vs scuba diving decision a little harder, as each magnificent blue Earth destination has its own attractive features.
And, now, for the most awe-inspiring hidden locations under the Earth’s water level, the best places to use your new snorkelling equipment and scuba diving gear:
- Badewanne, Gulf of Finland
- Barracuda Point, Malaysia
- Blue Corner Wall, Micronesia
- Chepstow, England
- Great Barrier Reef, Australia
- Great Blue Hole, Belize
- Kailua Kona, Hawaii
- Lundy Island, England
- Malapascua, Philippines
- Palau, Philippines
- Raja Ampat, Indonesia
- Rhoscolyn Beacon, Wales
- Richelieu Rock, Thailand
- Silfra Gap, Iceland
- Sipadan, Malaysia
- Skomer Marine Reserve, Wales
- The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
- The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada
- The Riviera Maya, Mexico
- The Yongala, Australia
- Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
- U.S.S. Kittiwake, Grand Cayman
- USAT Liberty, Indonesia
- Yolanda Reef, Egyptian Red Sea
- Zakynthos, Greece
A final tip from The Hobby Kraze team who have “been there, done that and got the T-shirt”, would be to wait at least 24 hours to fly after diving. No matter whether it’s diving with a snorkel or heading into the great blue with scuba diving gear, water pressure takes its toll on your body, lungs and mind. And, heading into a high-altitude flight will only cause decompression sickness which is never fun for you or the rest of the passengers.
And, with that, this beginner’s guide to scuba diving and snorkelling is over. Meaning your underwater adventure is just about to begin. Here at the Hobby Kraze, we love to see your new hobbies in action. So, don’t forget to share pictures of you and your new waterborne friends having fun on our social media pages!
Alternatively, check out the other ultimate guides in our water world series here at The Hobby Kraze, with everything from stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking to sailing and rafting experiences. Find out where the tides will take you.