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When it comes to snorkeling versus scuba diving, which do you like to do? Is scuba diving worth a try and worth the effort to get certified? Scuba diving is not for everyone and even medically, one may not be approved to attend a class due to health risks. Snorkeling is super easy and doesn’t require certification.
Over the years, I have snorkeled more times than I can count. I also obtained my Open Water and Advanced OW certifications in scuba diving.
Here is what you need to know about snorkeling and diving:
No certification required, all you need is a mask and snorkel and know how to breathe through it in order to snorkel. Practice taking long breaths through it and since you can’t stay underwater too long, you can take a break at any time. Those cool pics you see of people down several feet with a snorkel – they know how to hold their breathe that whole time. If you can do it and got a good pair of flippers, go for it!
Discover Scuba and Snuba
You can take a class in a local pool or dive center that offers a “Discover Scuba” class if you’re not sure you how you would feel about it. Scuba diving can make you anxious, claustrophobic, and takes a lot of practice to get your buoyancy (balance in the water) down. If you take the class, you can figure out if you want to invest the time and money into getting certified.
Some resorts and dive centers offer “Snuba” where you can remain underwater without a tank. You have a regulator in your mouth which has a line attached to the boat where the tanks/air supply is. Sometimes they offer you an astronaut like head piece so you don’t have a regulator. No certification is required.
Scuba diving classes can easily be found in major cities and of course anywhere by oceans. You need to sign up for a class which may be priced from $300-$600. Classes are more expensive in the Caribbean islands or wherever water is clearer.
I got certified in Long Island, NY and the class was only $299 plus $99 for the study book. I used Scuba Network in Old Carle Place and I return to their dive shop all the time. Martha who owns the shop has frequent classes, great instructors, great prices and the biggest selection of gear and merchandise in her shop! Any other shop I went to has always been tiny.
You can usually take a class on 3 weeknights or dedicate time to a weekend schedule. Then of course you have to schedule and pay separately for the certification exam – two days of diving in the open water. That can run from $200 and up.
Even though it sounds easy, it takes a lot of reading, learning the physics of diving and the water, and practice. We spent about 10 hours practicing in the pool. I had trouble with getting used to the breathing but finally accomplished it after 2 hours. Now I’m great at breathing and burning little air!
My open water test was in Far Rockaway, NY which is not anywhere near clear water. We held onto a tied rope and brought ourselves down a few feet to a cage to do the skills. We were all in close proximity. The other option for the open water exam was Dutch Springs in Pennsylvania. I completed my Advanced certification there and recommend it much more than Far Rockaway. It’s a fresh water quarry and the water is clear. There’s many vehicles submerged for exploring – bus, helicopter, wreck etc.
Important Factors to go Forward
1. Your health: Make sure you check with your doctor if you have any medical condition before putting your life in danger.
2. Time of year and temperature of location: Avoid winters and hurricane season
3. Location: Cost is lower in 2nd or 3rd world countries such as Mexico, Honduras, and Philippines. Bahamas class can start off at $600 for the class alone ! Caribbean is expensive if the US. $1 matches the country’s currency.
4. Length of class and exam: You will need at least 6-7 days if you plan to get certified in another country. You need to wait 24 hours before flying after you scuba. Research the class and exam schedules.
5. Equipment: You use the shop’s gear while practicing and for the exam. I bought my own gear (travel size BC) after the exam. I used different models of gear to feel which were most comfortable for me.
I’ll be providing more scuba stories, details on locations and trips, both taken and trips to come!
Have you tried any of the above?