Scientists believe that we have only explored about 5 percent of the ocean, making it by far the most undiscovered part of our planet. Find any coral reef and grab a snorkel and mask and you become Jacques Cousteau, perhaps finding one of the tens of millions of undocumented creatures that live in the ocean. This is a sport aimed at all sorts of people: singles, families, couples, experts, beginners, researchers, and explorers. Whether you are diving or snorkeling, aquatic life fascinates on a number of levels. Tropical locations dominate the diving and snorkeling seen. The fish are more colorful, the water is warmer, and a beachside bar is never far away. Whether your on the Bay Islands of Honduras, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, or just some lonely island off the east African coast, the scenery is always different under the water, often more so than the world above.
Scuba Diving Basics
The differences between scuba diving and snorkeling are huge. The differences lay both in equipment and range. Both sports allow you to breathe underwater, however, with snorkeling you are limited to the top of the water or the short distance you can swim holding your breath under the water. This makes swimming far below sea level impossible. Your equipment is basic, just a one size fits all mask, snorkel, and set of fins and you won’t need any training. Diving is another animal altogether. Not only do you need to have a wide assortment of equipment, but you need to take a certification course to be able to go out on the boat whenever you want. That said many of the world’s best and easiest to reach underwater spots can also be snorkeled and many advanced divers even opt to snorkel if given the option.
Scuba Diving - Beginners
For beginners and even advanced divers, snorkeling is a cheap, easy, and wonderful way to explore the earth’s ocean without much effort or frustration. You can rent a mask and snorkel from your hotel or a beachside shack and walk right out from the beach to explore the shallow waters right in front of you. Almost always, one will snorkel before they attempt diving. Snorkeling is the perfect introduction to diving. If you dislike snorkeling chances are diving is not your thing.
To dive like most enthusiasts you need to be certified. There is a basic 4-day certification course that every diver must take in order to dive on a regular basis. The course teaches you how to breathe, how to swim with your equipment, and how to change depths, among other things. You can also take a one day ëfun dive’ with an instructor, just a short introduction that sometimes counts toward the first day of your certification. Beginners are limited to depths just 16-32 feet below sea level, but can quickly move to greater depths with more practice.
Scuba Diving - Advanced
Snorkeling for the most part is a basic sport and there is little variation between beginners and advanced. The advanced diver, however, has an incredible array of options. There are literally hundreds of advanced courses, where you can become certified to be an advanced open water diver, rescue diver, dive master, search and recovery diver, night diver, underwater photographer, ice diver, coral reef conservationist, and much, much more. Most of these certifications can be accomplished in just a few days.
The more advanced you are and the more certifications you have the more places, and more importantly greater depths, you can dive. Generally speaking, the further you go below sea level the more the aquatic life changes and the more diverse creatures you will see. Advanced divers tend to be found in groups. They flock to well known islands and dive sites like sheep and may make up entire towns that sometimes begin to seem more like a UN meeting than a vacation. Many become addicted to the sport and set out on dive vacations for months at a time, while others squeeze in a weekend whenever they get a chance.