Snorkeling VS Freediving: The Main Difference

If you are intrigued by the beauty of marine life or love a deep-diving challenge, then snorkeling and freediving should be on your list.

Snorkeling or Freediving: What is the Difference?

Snorkeling involves observing the aquatic environment and sea life while staying afloat on the water surface while wearing a diving mask or swim goggles, snorkel, and swim fins. Meanwhile, in freediving, the divers dive deeper in water in one breath without surfacing. Unlike snorkeling, free diving requires skill, discipline, and extensive proper training.

Main Difference

Snorkeling is all fun and games when it comes to swimming on the surface of the water with a wetsuit on. All you need is a diving mask and a pair of snorkeling fins to witness the beauty of aquatic life. Skin diving is somewhere between snorkeling and freediving. Skin divers dive slightly deeper than snorkelers. A skin diver usually snorkels on the surface and when sees more interesting objects underwater, does breath-hold dives without a scuba tank.

But when it comes to freediving, it’s a completely different story. Freediving is a competitive sport that requires extensive training before you can perform a dive in one breath without surfacing. You’ll need professional assistance, high-quality dive gear, and training that includes both in-class and in-water exercises.

There is also skin diving, which is somewhere between snorkeling and freediving. Skin divers dive slightly deeper than snorkelers but without the tank for scuba diving.


Snorkeling is a recreational activity that anyone can indulge themselves in. Due to the exotic swimming experience that it promises, many snorkelers make it out into the sea for an adventure. But there are a few things that you should know before snorkeling.



There are 3 types of snorkels: basic, dry, and semi-dry snorkel.

A basic snorkel uses a simple breathing tube with a ‘J’ shape at the mouthpiece. On the other hand, a dry snorkel features a dry top capability that inhibits water from penetrating the opening. Meanwhile, a semi-dry snorkel integrates a splash guard at the top of the snorkel. The type of snorkel you use highly depends on individual preferences.

You’ll also need a mask to see underwater. To ensure you enjoy snorkeling more, you’ll also need full-foot fins for additional comfort. In addition, wearing a rash guard or wetsuit can shield you against pricks, scratches, and getting cold. You can also always consider using a snorkeling vest to enhance visibility while staying afloat on the water surface.


Before you go out snorkeling, here are a few basics that you should keep in mind:

  • Perform a practice dive to get acquainted with the snorkeling gear and practice breathing techniques.
  • Make sure you have the right gear for snorkeling. Always consider the style, size, and price of the snorkeling gear before investing in it.
  • It is important to consider the location you choose for snorkeling. We recommend choosing a location that corresponds with your level of experience.

Muscle Use

Snorkeling engages several important muscles throughout your body. Steering in the water, diving, or swimming involves using your deltoid, pectoral, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, along with biceps and triceps.


Typically, snorkelers tend to stay afloat on the surface of the water. However, you can buy certain snorkels that allow you to snorkel 1.5 to 2 feet deep underwater.


Freediving is a serious water sport that requires expertise, specialized training, and gear. So, if you like a challenge, then this is the sport for you. Here are a few aspects to keep in mind before you go freediving.



Freediving is far more complex than snorkeling in terms of skill and risk. Therefore, you require specialized equipment to ensure your safety and comfort. Modern freedivers recommend the following gear for freediving:

  • Long-bladed freediving fins that are ideal for providing outstanding propulsion
  • Low-volume masks to ensure easier equalizing.
  • Special wetsuits to keep you warm underwater. These are also more adaptable than those worn by snorkelers and scuba divers.

Also, experts recommend freedivers weigh themselves for neutral buoyancy rather than using inflatable buoyancy gadgets. This allows them to return safely to the water surface.


As with every water sport, freediving requires practice, knowledge, and specialized equipment. But there are several basics that you need to know while freediving. These are:

  • Professionals recommend diving with a buddy, as freediving alone can be dangerous.
  • Always choose the correct number of weights.
  • Make sure you have a diving plan.
  • Try not to exhale underwater or exhale sharply when you return to the surface.
  • Avoid hyperventilation.

Muscle Use

Freediving activates a few muscles in your body. These include your hip, thigh, and calf muscles.


Freediving is characterized as a dive that surpasses 60 feet. This means that most people can safely dive up to 66 feet deep underwater.

Closing Thoughts

Snorkeling and freediving are two of the most popular underwater sports around the globe. While snorkeling promises risk-free recreation for most people, freediving poses a challenge due to its complexity and high risk. But with the right gear, knowledge, and expertise, snorkeling and freediving are fun activities. So, if you find yourself moved by the thought of an underwater adventure, it’s time for a deep dive!

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