Snorkeling or Diving
July 2010

by Natalie Novak

At breakfast the other day, I saw someone wearing a shirt that said, "Snorkeling is Above Diving," and it made me smile. I like the double meaning, and I understand it too. I am just not sure I agree. Both snorkeling and diving allow you to see some really cool things underwater, both use a mask to see and fins to swim, and both require you to breathe through your mouth. However, if I were going to use a metaphor, I would say, snorkeling is like riding a bicycle and diving is like being on a motorcycle. Both are fun and they are similar, but each is a very different experience.

Like riding a bike, snorkeling requires very little equipment and your enjoyment relies on your physical effort, as that is what propels you. And like biking, snorkeling is easily accessible.

Scuba diving, like motorcycle riding, requires more preparation, equipment, and responsibility. An introduction in the pool is the minimum prep, like practicing in the parking lot. Here in Akumal we dive from a boat, and on most of our dives we drift with the current as the boat follows us. We set up and check our equipment before we leave, and when on the dive we stay together, go down slowly and go up slowly. But the ride, oh, the ride. There is a unique freedom when I am in the water, no longer attached to the surface. I find sitting still on the bottom of the ocean and breathing so much more relaxing then diving down and holding my breath. When I am snorkeling, and I free dive down, I can not help thinking, I wish I had a scuba tank with me so I could stay here!

I love snorkeling but, for me, snorkeling is like watching a movie, and some of those movies are really good and I enjoy them, but scuba diving is like being in the movie. If you love snorkeling, keep it up, but I also recommend you try diving, check it out at

Tip: How to free dive: Ease into this little by little and have a friend close by. I suggest starting in shallow water. Please remember that the ability to dive down does not give you the right to harass sea life.

Before diving down, take 3 or 4 deep breaths. As you do so, look around and make sure no boats are coming. Then take a deep breath and hold it as you put your head down and raise your legs out of the water; the weight of them will help push you down. If you feel pressure in your ears, you may need to equalize them by blowing gently against a pinched nose. Enjoy your time underwater and, when you feel you need to come up, look above you as you head to the surface. Surface with a hand out above your head. About 3 feet before you reach the surface, start exhaling; this will help clear your snorkel for your arrival at the surface. Enjoy!

Dive with Natalie & Ivan