Great Barrier Reef: Scuba Diving v Snorkelling

23rd August 2017

Great Barrier Reef Adventure

Let’s face it, no trip to the Great Barrier Reef is complete without sticking your face under the water to peep on the colourful coral and unique marine life. There are so many Great Barrier Reef day trips that offer snorkelling and scuba diving to allow you to get up close and personal with the incredible underwater world that exists below the surface. However you may be wondering, which method is best? Although diving allows you to immerse yourself in the marine environment below, it’s also more expensive. Snorkelling is easy and requires little to no training, but does it offer the complete experience? When it comes to putting your face underwater on the Great Barrier Reef you really can’t lose, but we’ve put together the pros and cons of diving versus snorkelling to help you decide.



The most obvious advantage of scuba diving is the completely immersive experience it offers. You get to be a part of this amazing marine environment where fish are as curious to check you out as you are them and sharks pay you no mind. You can spend hours below the water, away from the sun’s harmful rays and amid the inquisitive manta rays. Surrounded by water, you’ve got 360 degrees of H20 to explore above and below where an array of creatures dwell. Not only do you get to see the colourful coral, but you can actually get close enough to see how it interacts with the environment around it, sheltering fish and filtering water. Diving at night also offers a completely different experience, when the predators come out to play. Giant trevally and sharks on the prowl are a common sight, an unforgettable interaction you can’t experience any other way.


When you’re sitting in the sunshine on a boat in tropical Queensland there’s nothing you’d love more than a nice cold beer, but if you want to be able to go diving there can be no imbibing. This is probably lucky because if you’ve shelled out for a dive, you may not have much beer money to spare. Another downside to diving is all the equipment. There are wet suits, air tanks, buoyancy control devices, air gauges and more. Although most dive operators will provide all of this for you, you still have to wear over 50kg of kit and climbing over the side of the boat with all of that strapped to your back may require more muscles than you anticipate – or have! Feeling heavy as a rock as you plunge into the depths can send many inexperienced or first time divers into a panic, which is not the most fun way to spend your day.



Snorkelling is much cheaper, in fact it can even be FREE! Most reef expeditions include snorkelling, whereas diving attracts a (hefty) extra charge. The Whitsundays are full of wonderful snorkelling spots right off the beach, so BYO gear and you can snorkel as many times as you want over your holiday. Now that’s freedom. The other great thing is that the equipment required is minimal. You can use fins if you want, but even they are necessary. A snorkel and mask is all you need to explore the stunning coral and marine life of the Great Barrier Reef and they easily fit into a beach bag. Let’s face it, when the water is that clear and the visibility is that good, who needs to dive down to the depths to see the good stuff?


The advantage of being down in the depths is that you escape the sun’s harmful rays. Snorkellers float around on the surface, captivated by what they’re seeing below and often forgetting about those UV rays beating down on their backs. Sunburn is almost inevitable unless you’re willing to get out and reapply your SPF, which is difficult to remember when what’s down below is so enchanting. You have to be honest with yourself, if you choose to snorkel rather than dive you WILL miss something. Whether you saw a particularly attractive fish disappear into some coral or you just couldn’t see those bottom-dwelling sharks and wobbegongs, with nothing but a snorkel you can’t get down in the deep to get a closer look. You might end up feeling a little left out as the divers return to the surface, gloating about all the interesting things they saw. Divers love to rub that stuff in.

Realistically, one option is no better than the other. They both have their advantages and disadvantages and offer their own unique experience. If you’re not a strong swimmer or tend to panic, then snorkelling is a nice relaxing option but if you’re just busting to see what’s down there and you’re game to give it a try, then diving is certainly a worthwhile experience. You can choose to do both or one or the other, but there really is no wrong answer. It’s all about what works best for you.