6 Reasons why snorkeling is almost as good as diving.
6 Reasons why snorkeling is almost as good as diving.
Any diver who reads this article will probably meet it with a bit of annoyance. But this is not for divers. It’s written and intended for those who, for whatever reason, can’t dive but still want to see the wonders of the sea and snorkeling is the only option. To be perfectly honest, in life, singular statements like the heading of this article are a matter of opinion. Some prefer snorkeling, while others prefer diving. Much like the ‘pineapple on pizza’ argument. I’ve heard it said “Nobody should ever, ever put pineapple on a pizza!” And yet, for others, it’s a firm favorite. For me, the answer is obvious. Eat whatever you like. If you like pineapple on a pizza, do it. If you don’t, then don’t – and let pineapple-eaters lie.
But, this is not about pineapple. It’s about snorkeling.
A little bit of back story: We took our first trip El Gouna, Egypt in fact, in 2016 where all I wanted to do was see what was beneath the famous Red Sea. Over time, I had heard a number of people commenting on their experiences diving in the Red Sea and watching as they struggle to describe the beauty and the feeling one gets while under the water. And so it become one of the top items on my bucket list: Dive in the Red Sea. The pyramids, ancient Egypt, desert expeditions; this was all secondary. But without any diving qualifications, I was only able to snorkel. But, I was more than grateful.
Booking a snorkeling day with Blue Brothers Diving at the Marina, I climbed aboard their boat with a bunch of strangers and sailed towards the horizon. The day absolutely blew me away. The beauty and clarity of the Red Sea, the amount of fish and sea life was unbelievable, and the feeling of floating above all of this was something I’ll never forget. This brings me to my first point.
You can see most of what divers see
Since I was the only snorkeller on the boat, I went alone. I had a time limit of 1 hour and had to circumvent the reef and climb aboard within that hour. All the divers descended immediately and groups and pairs went at their own pace. As it happens, April is one of the best times to dive and snorkel as there is migration due to the changing of seasons and much of the sea life is traveling. Within a few minutes, I found a turtle. The divers had no idea because they were too deep. Eels, Eagle Rays, Flute Fish and thousands of other fish were all on the sight list for the day.
The biggest visual disadvantage to diving is the lack of colour at depth. At surface level and within 50cm of the surface, you have the full color spectrum that the sun has to offer. As you go deeper, some colors start to vanish. The reds are first to go, within about a meter of water, then the oranges, then the yellows by 10 meters. These are all your warm colors and so everything takes on a bluish purple color. By 22 meters, the greens are gone and by 30 meters, a maximum depth for most leisure divers, you’re left only with blue. That’s why, when you come up from a dive, the light and color are a welcome beauty.
It’s less effort
I learned this from a boat captain. I had never really thought of it, but after a lengthy discussion on our diving experiences, his far outweighing mine, he just said, “It’s a lot of fiddling around for something that simple snorkeling can bring you.” He, in his captaining, had dived in The Galapagos -the ultimate mecca for divers. But his point remained the same. He was not far underwater when he came across a whale shark, dolphins and rays, all traveling in the same stream.
Personally, I quite like the set up of diving. It’s somewhat of a ritual for me and prepares me for the wonders of the underwater world.
You can go alone
People with children will know: the onset of kids obliterates your free time. And so, if a whole day out at sea, diving, is difficult, an hour or so of snorkeling can go a long way in satisfying that need. For this reason, you don’t need to set up times, organize transport or do anything else – you just go. Some would much prefer to have company, but for others, the solitude adds to the beauty. I must say, the only thing I don’t particularly like about diving is having to dive with a buddy or a group. We have to, for safety, and so going alone is not an option. Not at leisure level anyway. But being an explorer at heart, it’s hard to stay on the proverbial beaten track.
Snorkeling affords us the freedom to move where and when we please.
You don’t need a boat
Here in El Gouna, my favorite spot is The Pier off Zeytouna beach. Its a 400m long pier that goes out over the lagoon and ends at the coral reef. We simply hop in there, and snorkel amongst the rich sea life. It is very encouraging to see how much life there is on a shore reef. We’ve seen cuttlefish, rays, eels and much more. Boating somewhere to snorkel, will probably offer more variety, but it’s not a necessity. See more about Protecting our Coral Reefs here.
The only items you need to snorkel are a mask,or what non-divers call “goggles”, a snorkel and fins – or flippers. These can come in varying quality and price ranges. My advice, the mask is the most important. If you have a decent one, you minimize the effects of misting / fogging dramatically. If your mask is continuously fogging up, it can dampen your experience and leave you frustrated. Also, a well sought out mask will fit you well and leak less. A continuously leaking mask will also hinder your enjoyment significantly. A cheap snorkel and fins will be just fine. As long as you can breathe, and as long as you can propel yourself forward, you’re fine. If you want to take another step in cost-effectiveness, don’t use fins. It will still work.
No qualifications needed
I say no qualifications needed but you should be able to swim. Having said that, you could snorkel with a life jacket, but you’ll need somebody to pull and push you. But again, no exams, no training, no forgetting. Again, personally, I’ve enjoyed all the dive training I’ve done. At rescue level now, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and shows other divers you’re serious about diving. But if it’s a leisure and sea life viewing you’re after, the only mental asset you need is common sense.
After all of that, diving obviously offers a lot more than simple snorkeling. But it must be said, you don’t have to feel left out.