A lot of people actually get into scuba diving through their interest in snorkeling. This is a great intro way to start to learn about the underwater world and a good start at becoming more comfortable in the ocean. While a lot of the equipment is very similar, there tends to be some key differences. This is something any aspiring diver should know, especially if they think they are going to be bringing their Snorkeling gear on board a dive boat! A snorkel mask might cut it just fine, but usually the fins are too short to propel them in a full scuba set with ample force.
Scuba fins tend to be much longer than the ones that come with most snorkel gear, and give you more power when kicking through the water while wearing heavy gear. A dry snorkel however is a great addition to any scuba divers kit, and while most divers seem to not bring a snorkel on their outings, it can really make a difference in rougher conditions with larger waves and some more surf. It saves you from having to put your regulator in your mouth and waste air while on the surface. One of the benefits of snorkeling fins however is the fact that due to the shorter size you tend to be a bit more maneuverable in the water. Being able to twist and turn on a dime is a nice feeling, and high end snorkeling gear will certainly help.
When it comes to traveling, bringing your own snorkel set is also much easier than bringing and entire scuba gear kit, even if you have a good travel bcd. Most snorkeling sets come with a decent travel bag that helps with storage and will keep your gear all together when not in use. Thanks to the compact size, this makes snorkeling gear the ideal travel accessory for ocean explorers who are only bringing a backpack or small suitcase. In most cases it is far easier to simply rent your scuba gear when you get to your destination, most dive shops don’t even charge a fee if you purchase a 2 tank dive outing.
As you might have read in some of my previous posts I love to spend my time in between dives snorkeling and i find it extremely relaxing. I recently started using a full face snorkel mask when I take a swim from my boat and could not be happier with my decision to switch from a standard scuba mask. I would love to hear what you think the best snorkeling gear is at the moment and if you have tried using a tribord easybreath? Let me know in the comments below!
Alongside a dive computer, many scuba divers look at getting a scuba mask as their first piece of personal scuba gear. This is a really smart decision in my opinion. The reasons you would want your own personal dive mask are numerous, the main one being comfort. Many divers I have met have been stuck with a ill fitting rental mask from their local dive shop and they tend to be uncomfortable, foggy and usually in pretty bad condition. So how do you go about finding thebest scuba mask for your needs? Lets dive into it (pun intended).
The best scuba mask for you is the one that fits comfortably, with a high quality skirt that will seal properly around your face. If you put the scuba mask on your face without the head strap, and inhale through your nose slightly, it should stay in place and air should not enter the mask. This is a great test to see if you are on the right track. There is also your personal preference if you are looking for a wide view mask, panoramic or single lens. Each style has their own benefits and drawbacks, but personally I really like a large lens style mask that sits close to the face. There is a really good list of some great scuba mask options that I found over at Diver World that is pretty current and has knowledgeable info from legit scuba divers. Myself, I have been using a ScubaPro Solo mask for several years and love it.
Now, to avoid having a very foggy dive mask when you first purchase a new one, there is a great little trick you can do. Most scuba masks ship with a protective layer of chemical coating that is designed to keep them looking shiny and new. This is great for display models, but not so much in real dive situations. It will cause your mask to fog up like crazy and you will be forced to constantly clear it during your dive, which is extremely annoying. That is why most experienced divers know the “lighter trick”. This is when you take an ordinary bic lighter, and quickly run the flame back and forth over the exterior glass while holding the mask upside down. as long as you keep the flame constantly moving there is no chance it will damage your mask. The heat will burn off the interior chemical layer and your mask will be 100% less foggy!
So I hope this little article has helped you find the best scuba mask for your needs, it really does not have to be too complicated at all! Just be sure to read some online reviews and find out what other scuba divers are saying about the top rated dive masks. A high quality scuba mask should last a diver a long time if taken care of properly. Just remember, always rinse your dive mask with fresh water after each outing! Happy diving everyone 🙂
Over many years of diving around the world, I am always meeting people who seem to be excited and eager to learn how to scuba dive. They are usually filled with questions about my adventures under the waves, if I am afraid of sharks, how many dives I have under my belt, the best dive sites around the world etc. I smile and answer all those questions for the hundredth time and encourage them to follow their passion and get PADI certified. Then, almost without fail they ask me about the dreaded “bends”. Decompression sickness is without a doubt many divers biggest concerns and something everyone would like to avoid entirely. With a few handy tips from some more experienced pros, You can set your mind at ease and really enjoy scuba diving!
The best way to avoid decompression sickness (DCS) is to use a dive computer. In the old days, scuba divers used to use dive tables to calculate the nitrogen buildup that occurs during a dive and figure out how much time they could spend, and at what depth. Nowadays with modern technology, dive computers allow you have the calculations run in real-time with constantly updated feedback at the push of a button. The best dive computers calculate the remaining dive time, record the depths you reach, water temperature and will accurately be able to tell you all the technical information about your dives. Many wrist computers nowadays can even act as a digital dive log, storing the information from many previous dives to be played back at a later date, great for those who like to keep a detailed dive log. You can find a great list of the best dive computer options over at Scuba Diving Dreams, a great scuba gear focused site run by professional divers from around the globe.
Another easy option to decrease your risk of decompression sickness by sticking to shallow dive sites. Due to the decreased pressure of a shallow dive, there is far less nitrogen buildup in your bloodstream, so even if you need to make an emergency ascent, the risk of DCS is far less, even on an extended dive. Another nice side benefit is the waters are usually warmer, there is more sea life on the surface level in reefs, and you will use your air far slower than if you descend to a deeper level. Some divers carry a big ego when it comes to going deep, but in truth, shallower dives tend to be far more enjoyable, longer and there is more to see! So if you are new to scuba diving, or just graduated from snorkeling, then be sure to ask your local dive shop for their next outing to the local reef.
Last weekend I met up with an old friend and we decided to spend the day snorkeling around the local reef here in the Bahamas. While I am a certified scuba diver, my friend is not unfortunately. So while we were restricted to snorkeling only, it was still a fantastic day spent among the corals. There is always a wide variety of aquatic life to see and I am rarely disappointed even after 10 years of exploring similar reef ecosystems. While the reef itself is quite shallow, it covers a large area which means many tropical fish make this warm water sanctuary their home. The corals are in decent condition thanks to the local wildlife protection service maintaining the reef. We were able to sail into a nice little cove and drop anchor, before donning our fins and snorkeling equipment. This time around we were trying out a new gadget I recently found online, the Tribord easybreath snorkeling mask. This is a neat full face design that allows you to breath normally instead of having to suck air through a more obtrusive classic snorkel. I like this new mask as it allows me to focus more on my underwater experience and less on constantly clearing my mask and snorkel. The Tribord easybreath is not very expensive when compared to a regular set of snorkel gear, and provides you with a full face mask experience that is quite different.
During our little day trip adventure we ran into several large schools of fish, including some mean looking barracuda! Lucky for us they were not hungry and simply were enjoying the warm shallow water, and probably looking to snack on some smaller fish if they got lucky. With the added benefit of proper fins, we were able to quickly move through the water and even dive down several meters to get a close up look at the corals lining the bottom of the reef. The nice thing about snorkeling is, unlike scuba diving you do not have to worry about nitrogen buildup or getting the bends, due to extended periods of time at depth. So we were able to paddle about for a couple hours, leisurely taking in all the gorgeous sights. A quick stop for lunch aboard my sailboat and we were ready to enjoy some sundown cocktails on the deck.
It is always nice to catch up with old friends and since most of mine are also oceanic enthusiasts as well, snorkeling together is a great way to spend an afternoon. As the sun set we slowly cruised back into the marina, ready to head out for dinner and see what the night had to offer! The seafood at the local dock side restaurant is always mouth watering and extremely fresh as the locals spearfish on the same reef we were exploring that day. I decided to go big and get a delicious red snapper that had been caught only hours before. It was certainly a decision I will not forget!