What is SNUBA Diving? Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated: February 8, 2023

When you travel somewhere with beautiful water and bountiful aquatic life, it’s hard to resist the urge to take the plunge and explore underwater. Thankfully, there are plenty of water techniques available to let you go underwater safely.

One such activity that you might not be familiar with is SNUBA diving. 

That’s not a misspelling of scuba; SNUBA diving is its own underwater activity.

Before you dive into the water, dive into everything there is to know about SNUBA, so you can plan your next vacation around where you can try it for the first time.

What Does SNUBA Stand For?

what is snuba diving

The term SNUBA stands for Surface Nexus Underwater Breathing Apparatus. The name is fitting, as it describes the oxygen tank attached to a float that sits on the surface of the water.

SNUBA essentially combines some elements of scuba diving and snorkeling into one exciting water activity. This type of diving was started in the late 1980s as a way to see how the snorkeling experience could be improved. SNUBA has been improved in terms of quality since then.

SNUBA vs. SCUBA – What is the Difference?

SNUBA is similar to scuba diving in many ways. In fact, it was inspired by scuba diving. However, the idea was to build on the great elements of scuba diving as well as snorkeling, and it requires a lot less training and ability. Both types of diving let you explore the world beneath the water, while having a safe oxygen supply.

SCUBA, which stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, allows you to explore underwater as well. However, you have to undergo particular training and education in order to get a scuba certificate. This will allow you to participate in scuba diving safely.

Snuba diving doesn’t require you to have a certification of any kind in order to engage in it. This is because you are not always going into the middle of the ocean, as you would with scuba diving. Instead, you can walk right off of the sandy beach into the water and begin your diving once you’ve been trained on safety protocols.

Snuba is improved on snorkeling, as it also allows you to dive deeper into the water without having to train for scuba diving. This is because you don’t have an air tank that’s strapped to your back. The unique float that holds your oxygen will keep you safe under the water for a longer period of time.

While scuba diving can let you dive lower than the 20 feet maximum for SNUBA, there is a lot of training involved. A typical snuba diving session is scheduled for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Is SNUBA Diving Safe?

Snuba diving is quite safe, and you’ll be going into the water with experienced divers. In order to ensure safety, instructors will take you through a quick safety course to make sure you understand what is required of you to stay safe. They also have you fill out a form to ensure you are covered in case a medical emergency occurs.

During your safety training, you will be taught how to properly breathe with the breathing apparatus. It’s crucial that you pay attention, as it’s different from regular breathing. In order to avoid serious harm to your lungs, you have to breathe a certain way underwater.

There are also hand signals you need to use to communicate with others. You will also learn how to properly ascend back to the water’s surface. You will also learn how to descend into the water, and how to equalize, which helps you descend without potential injury.

You will also be shown how to keep your mask clear so your visibility can be as good as possible. Additionally, you’ll be taught how to keep your ears protected and avoid having to pop them when water clogs and potentially hurting your ears in the process.

Sights are also usually scoped out beforehand to make sure you’ll have the very best experience. Depending on where you go, you might either start your descent by walking off the shore of a beach, or you may be brought out further into the water by a boat.

There are some potential dangers that you should be aware of. They are not common, but it’s wise to be informed about any potential risk and how to potentially circumvent it. With the hose and harness attached to your raft, there is potential that they could get tangled into something underwater.

Always try to be aware of where your harness and hose are falling when swimming, so you can try to avoid any potential hazard. This will also be helpful in the instance that a strong current comes around, and it pulls you into a particular direction. If you do get dragged by a current or wave, try not to panic, and give yourself a moment to get reoriented before continuing.

With that said, you won’t be taken out to snuba dive on a day where the weather is uncertain or the water turbulent. Rain is not an issue, as the diving experience won’t be impacted.

girls snuba diving
Photo Credits – Pride of Maui

Can You SNUBA if You Can’t Swim?

You should be able to swim to a certain extent before you go snuba diving. You don’t want to run the risk of being in a deep part of the water without being able to swim if you need to. That being said, you don’t need to be an expert swimmer to give it a shot.

The two most important skills you’ll have to develop is proper breathing techniques and being able to kick your feet with fins to move yourself. You won’t be going into the water alone, so there will be someone around to help you.

With snuba diving excursions, you’re going to have an expert diver with you under the water. The excursions are designed in a way to ensure there is a diver available to pay close attention to you the entire time.

Thus, if you aren’t the best swimmer and need some help, there will be someone who can help ease your anxiety and encourage you to enjoy your time safely.

SNUBA Diving Equipment

SNUBA doesn’t require as much equipment as scuba diving does, and the equipment that you do need also isn’t as heavy as scuba gear.

The main component of snuba equipment is an air tank, which is attached to a harness that is also attached to a raft that floats on top of the water. This allows you to have some more freedom when it comes to swimming.

Since the air tank is attached to the harness, you don’t have to worry about losing it. It’ll follow you around as you swim. The equipment also consists of a weight belt, as well as fins, a mask, and a regulator.

The weight diving belt will be adjusted by your instructors to make sure you can sink into the water, but not to the point where you go too deep where it becomes unsafe.

The raft that holds your air tank looks somewhat similar to inflatable pool floats, but they are much more complex than that. For younger folks, they’re required to wear special safety vests, adorably called SNUBA Doo vests.

There are two different types of rafts, depending on how many people are diving with you. The standard raft can support two divers, and the quad raft will support four.

The cylinders that hold your air fit snugly into special compartments can be changed on the fly if needed.

In terms of what you are required to bring to your snuba adventure, you will obviously want to have a swim suit or wetsuit, as well as a towel and sunscreen. Even though you’ll be in the water, you should still keep your skin protected.

Best Places To SNUBA

One of the best places to try SNUBA is in Maui, Hawaii. There are professional snuba divers that can teach you the right way to participate, and they will help guide you through the water safely. If you’re traveling throughout the United States, Florida and California also offer some gorgeous opportunities for snuba diving.

Traveling outside of the country, if you stay at a Sandals resort in a tropical country, such as the Bahamas or Jamaica. Even Australia has some good options. Additional places to try SNUBA include Aruba, Fiji, St. Lucia, Caicos, and Costa Rica.

Final Thoughts

SNUBA can be a rewarding way to discover the beauty of underwater life in a digestible way, especially if you haven’t participated in many water sports or activities before. It also gives you the opportunity to learn whether or not you’d like to go further and become a certified scuba diver or even instructor.

While it isn’t a very new type of water adventure, it’s a good alternative to scuba diving and it is definitely growing in popularity. There are a plethora of beautiful places to explore the water through snuba diving, and that list is only going to continue to grow, given that it’s a much more accessible way to pretend to be Ariel for a day.

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