Snorkelling & Scuba Diving Advice
Scuba diving and snorkelling are fantastic ways to explore the world beneath the water's surface, whether in a swimming pool, a lake or out at sea.
The ultimate underwater swimming experience can only be provided by scuba diving. With snorkelling, you can only dive down for 20-30 seconds - for as long as you can hold your breath - but with scuba diving you can go down for 20 minutes to half an hour and fully explore the undersea environment. You will experience the quietness and the strange sensation of being absolutely weightless.
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Scuba diving is regulated. You are not allowed to go out on your own. There is an international system called the PADI system, PADI being a certificate that is gained after the successful completion of a scuba diving course. Even then, you cannot go scuba diving on your own you must always be in a pair. It is known as the "buddy system". Many accidents have occurred around the world where people have been diving on their own, so this has now been outlawed.
Many people learn to scuba dive whilst on holiday. This can be a great opportunity to go on a scuba diving experience course, where qualified instructors take you out in groups.
The equipment required for includes flippers, a face mask and an air tank on your back with a pipe round to a mouthpiece. You also have a weight belt, which is sized to hold you down sufficiently in the water to maintain an equilibrium. Also, because you are going to be in the water for a long time a wet suit is usually worn. Even if the sea is warm, it is wise to wear a wet suit because it offers protection, especially when swimming around coral reefs which can be sharp.
How to Snorkel
Snorkelling is completely unregulated - there are no legal requirements regarding training and experience to snorkel.
The best way to start is to borrow or purchase a cheap pair of flippers, a face mask and a snorkel. The snorkel is the U shaped tube through which you breathe whilst your face is underwater.
To get started, you should practice first in a swimming pool. The best way to practice is to put all the gear on and lie face down in the water, getting used to the sensation of breathing through a tube whilst keeping your face down, allaying any fears you may have about water getting into the snorkel or the face mask. The next stage is to swim underwater, which allows you to dive down and swim around with the aid of the flippers. When you surface, you will need to blow the water out of the snorkel. There is a more modern variation on this - you can now buy snorkels that as you go underwater have a device that seals them and prevents most, but not all, of the water getting into the snorkel.
The most fantastic thing about snorkelling is that you are permanently seeing what is under water. You have a very clear view and can see everything that is going on, so when you progress to snorkelling in lakes and the sea you can see fish, sea weed, shells - everything!