Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving and Free Diving

Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving and Free Diving

Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving and Free Diving

Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving and Free Diving


There are many ways to dive and enjoy the beautiful underwater sights and marine life. Scuba divers like the idea of remaining under the blue for extended periods of time. However, there are those who prefer not to have the weight of an oxygen tank on their back.

If you are one of them, there are some diving activities that could suit you. These include snorkeling, skin diving and free diving.  The confusing part is that these three words seem to be used interchangeably. However, there are differences between them.

Let’s learn some more about the difference between snorkeling, skin diving and free diving.



Snorkeling is more popular than any of the three diving activities we mentioned above. It involves using a face mask, snorkel, fins and sometimes a buoyancy vest. The vest allows the diver to remain on the surface and float with minimal effort.

Snorkelers then look down to the ocean to enjoy the beautiful underwater world below. They prefer locations where the sea bed is closer to the surface such as around coral reefs. It is a simple skill to learn and with a little time and effort, anyone can snorkel.


Skin Diving

Skin diving is indeed pretty much snorkeling since all the above-mentioned equipment will be used. The diver swims down into the ocean to observe the marine life up close. He will hold his breath and when its time to take a breath, he will swim up to the surface, blow the water out of the snorkel and breath through it.

Then he may return for some more close up observation.


Free Diving

Things are different when it comes to free diving. This is an activity mostly done for sport and its intention is to find who can stay under water for the longest time. The activity requires far more vigorous training and involves inhaling as much oxygen as possible while consuming as little of the oxygen as possible.

With free diving, you can either dive vertically downwards or swim horizontally. You will not be using the snorkel and the masks are a bit smaller than snorkeling masks.  What’s more, the free diver will often use a single fin that is longer than usual and is worn on both feet.

When the free diver makes his way to the surface of the ocean, this is mainly to re-oxygenate the body before resuming the dive.

The main difference between these three activities can be looked at from the method and depth. Snorkeling is usually done on the surface while skin diving is done at moderate depths. Free diving is all about diving deep and staying under for longer.