Have you ever considered diving without a tank? Snorkeling, skin diving, and freediving are all similar activities. The time divers spend underwater is the Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving, and Free Diving and scuba diving, for that matter.

Here are the various ways these sports are enjoyed and what scuba divers obtain from them. You can learn about Snorkeling by visiting our Snorkeling 101: The Complete Guide to Snorkeling.

What are the Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving, and Free Diving.

Scuba diving is straightforward to define: attach a container of breathing air to your back to breathe underwater without using the surface you’re diving into. But things become a little more cloudy when you remove the tank.

When terms like snorkeling, free diving, and skin diving are used interchangeably without distinction, they all refer to one another. It’s not much of a surprise. Whether you’re a scuba diver, free diver, snorkeler, or skin diver, you may draw from other skills and apply your expertise from one activity to the next.

Dudarev Mikhail


Snorkeling is among the most popular activities on this list. Because of all the well-known activities, snorkeling is perhaps the most approachable and straightforward. Thousands of snorkelers go swimming on holidays or in their seas every year, drifting above the surface.

Snorkeling is an underwater exploration in which people use full-foot snorkel fins, Snorkel masks, snorkels, and possibly a buoyancy vest to keep them afloat without strain. The tendency to stay at the surface and look at the aquatic environment beneath makes this distinction. The full-face snorkel mask adds a fresh spin to an old tune, offering comfort and convenience for individuals who find it challenging to use a standard snorkel.

Snorkelers may and will swim below depth, but not to the extent that skin divers can. Want to learn about snorkeling techniques and how to improve your skills? Please read our Full Snorkeling Guide.

Skin diving

Diving is as old as swimming. It’s an obsolete phrase that isn’t often used, yet it’s still relevant. Divers were holding their breath and diving underwater to seek colorful fish or glittering treasure before masks or goggles allowed them to see better underwater.

Jon Milnes

Skin diving is snorkeling, but rather than going to the surface when something interesting appears, you plunge below the water’s surface. Who hasn’t tried to swim with a mask and plunge to look at some crab or coral garden? Anyone who has done this knows how quickly the pressure in the nasal passages clamps shut, causing pain in the head.

Hydrostatic pressure begins to compress the air and organs within when the body goes more than a few feet deep. The pressure squeezes anything by 14.5 psi for every depth of 33 feet (10 meters).

Any skin diver will have learned how to equalize, which is used in freediving and scuba divers. Snorkels are used at the surface, and standard diving equipment, such as a mask and fins, is utilized.


The newest and most famous of these tankless activities is freediving. Many people conflate snorkeling and skin diving into one phrase, but it isn’t correct.

Freediving is a competitive sport with more rules than skin diving and snorkeling. Freedivers attempt to spend the most time on one breath possible to achieve the most significant distance by inhaling as much air as possible and using as little oxygen as possible underwater.

On the other hand, freedivers descend vertically to reach maximum depth or distance underwater. To be efficient and used when ascending, they follow ropes or lines and pull on them for increased speed toward the surface.

Herbert Nitsch is the current freediving world record-holder, swimming to a depth of 830.8 feet (253.2 m) in one breath! He’s won the title “the Deepest Man on Earth,” and he’s also an active conservationist.

Masks, like swim goggles, are generally smaller than standard scuba or snorkeling masks. Monofins, where both feet are in the same fin, are occasionally used by divers. Freedivers use fins that are considerably longer than dive fins, and many divers use monofins, where both feet are in the same fin.

The primary aim of scuba diving is to spend as much time underwater as possible, unlike snorkeling and skin diving. Surface time is only used to re-oxygenate the body between dives, and a snorkel is rarely used.

Overall Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving, and Free Diving

In basic terms, snorkeling is merely on the surface, freediving attempts to spend as much time underwater as possible, and skin diving combines the two. Participants in all three sports might disagree with this definition, but it may be helpful for others to distinguish between them.

Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving, and Free Diving
Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving, and Free Diving

The benefits of diving without a tank

Scuba divers may pick up a lot of skills while doing these things. Skin diving, in particular, forces you to equalize and work with buoyancy. A skin diving dive was formerly a requirement for all entry-level scuba lessons.

Diving without a tank on your back is quite gratifying because it allows a diver to experience the same mobility you don’t have with a lot of gear. Check out What snorkel gear should I buy?

Furthermore, various marine creatures are visible and approachable without exhaling bubbles, such as whale sharks and dolphins. It allows us to look beneath the waterline while traveling without bringing or hiring any equipment.

We don’t always have the option of diving equipment in rescue situations, and therefore we may need to assist a diver using just our fins, mask, and snorkel.

Bring your non-diving friends

Snorkeling is a simple, no-frills method to take non-swimmers on a tour of the aquatic world. This is especially true if they are not good swimmers.

After seeing what’s underneath the water, non-divers will have a greater appreciation for why humans have been obsessed with the ocean and why it’s vital to preserve it.

Skills that will make you a better diver

You can also pick up scuba skills while skin diving. A typical snorkeling clearing may be helpful at the beginning and end of your dives, as well as descent and ascent techniques.

You may also improve your breathing and air intake by learning freediving techniques. Freedivers have developed the ability to re-oxygenate their bodies and regulate their breathing underwater efficiently.

There are also various methods for swimming underwater without excessive power, which you can use on almost any dive.

What will you choose?

Even though snorkeling, skin diving, and freediving involve using a breathing instrument, they are worlds apart. While snorkeling is all about taking in the beauty of a beautiful day, freediving is more about endurance and adrenaline. Diving with a mask and snorkel is somewhere in the middle, but it’s generally more peaceful than scuba diving and less hazardous than freediving!

While all of them are enjoyable, you must decide whether snorkeling/skin diving, or freediving is best for you. You’ll undoubtedly have an incredible underwater experience with either one!

That’s the end of our complete guide about Difference Between Snorkeling, Skin Diving, and Free Diving. Would you ever go diving without a tank to see the underwater world or to improve your scuba skills? Leave a remark below if you’d like to know.

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