SNUBA®, a genius combination between scuba diving and snorkeling that makes it possible to enjoy the best of the undersea world. Two words to describe it? Pure magic. That is precisely what you’ll find once you decide to set out on a SNUBA® expedition.
Sandals resorts that offer SNUBA® diving: Sandals Royal Bahamian (the Bahamas), Sandals Negril, Sandals Ochi (Jamaica), Sandals Regency la Toc, Sandals Grande St. Lucian and Sandals Halcyon Beach (Saint Lucia).
From Hawaii, to the Florida Keys, all the way to the Bahamas, SNUBA® diving is known and loved by vacationers. It is, in a sense, a gateway from snorkeling, right on through to scuba diving, without getting thrown off the deep-end prematurely. It should be noted that SNUBA® cannot be considered scuba diving training, though some people find that this easy transition helps prepare them mentally for scuba diving. SNUBA® doesn’t always have to lead up to scuba diving though, as it does well on its own, and offers you the chance to see much more than you would on a typical snorkeling tour.
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
How SNUBA® diving was invented
The SNUBA® raft
SNUBA® and scuba, the difference?
SNUBA® versus snorkeling
Pros and cons of SNUBA® diving
Know before you go
Essential SNUBA® skills
SNUBA® diving equipment
SNUBA® tours in the Caribbean
A group of PADI® instructors got together in the late 80s (1988 by way of some accounts), and decided to plan out an avenue that would push the limits of snorkeling. Thus, SNUBA® diving was born, and later perfected into what it is today. SNUBA®, an experience that incorporates snorkeling gear, a floating raft, breathing apparatus, and compressed oxygen, makes it possible for you to breathe freely as you explore the magic of the undersea world!
SNUBA® diving rafts are generally made of high-quality inflatable fabric, with fully welded seams and can hold up to two air cylinders, depending on the make and model. The air cylinders are placed for convenience and ease of change in a recessed compartment. SNUBA® rafts often come in either the ‘Standard’ or ‘Quad’ models, which provide air for two, and four divers. The SNUBA® raft is great for support before divers get into the underwater action.
SNUBA® is similar to scuba diving in the sense that it allows you to navigate the ocean’s depths while still being able to breathe. It is not a rite of passage to scuba diving, but can help give you a feel of the scuba diving experience. SNUBA® diving and scuba diving are still worlds apart though, particularly as you don’t need to get a scuba diving certification to participate in SNUBA®. Even for skilled scuba divers, SNUBA® offers a simplified and relaxing adventure, complete with a feel that is comparable to scuba. Simply put, Snuba allows you to get into the water more quickly than you would for a scuba diving expedition.
Picture: Scuba diving involves an oxygen tank that has to be attached to your back, with SNUBA® diving you breathe through a tube attached to a floating raft.
For anyone who wants to experience the ocean snorkeling can be an amazing place to begin you journey, but SNUBA® undeniably has the edge when the two are compared. This is because SNUBA® diving, in general, is more in-depth and liberating than snorkeling. It allows you to dive deeper and experience more, with the convenience of a breathing apparatus, which means you don’t need to rush to the surface because you’re out of breath. This makes it possible to be completely immersed in the experience and swim about freely, while still being connected to the raft, which adds an element of safety (or comfort).
Picture: Snorkeling involves breathing air through a snorkel, this limits the depth you can go underwater. SNUBA® diving allows you to go deeper and still be able to breathe.
Expert Tip: Ask you tour company to make special arrangements if you prefer private SNUBA® sessions as opposed to being part of a group.
In some cases you’ll take a boat out to a designated SNUBA® dive site, or you’ll start out straight from the beach. If you’re on a boat, all you’ll need to do is climb down the ladder, get into the water, and grab onto the SNUBA® raft. If you’re on the beach, your tour instructors may have you take a kayak in some instances, out to the Snuba raft once you’re all suited up.
In order to enjoy the benefits of SNUBA® diving, it is important that you know how to swim. If you don’t, perhaps this is a good time and reason to learn!
As SNUBA® dives take you nearly 20-feet deep, basic swim skills are a must. Not to mention that it helps to be comfortable in the water to make the most of the experience.
Keeping in mind that the air hose which is attached to the SNUBA® raft carries the oxygen, you can dive to a maximum depth of 20 feet (6 metres), which is the length of the hose, during your SNUBA® expedition. Not everyone decides to go that deep however, as you can enjoy the benefits and sightings SNUBA® makes available even from a more shallow vantage.
Keep in mind that your guide will be with you every step of the way to help you navigate this experience. As you can only go so deep during a SNUBA® dive, it is easy to return to the surface to ask questions, or just to take a breath of fresh air.
To be a good SNUBA® diver, one of the most important things to note is that you should always avoid touching marine life, particularly coral reefs. You can however, take lots of photos for cool memories later!
All instructors are certified to ensure every SNUBA® dive is as safe as possible. Ahead of any SNUBA® experience, participants are briefed on what to expect during the expedition, and what marine life they can expect to see, based on their location. Extended safety briefings are a feature of all SNUBA® tours, and most touch on the following:
If you are still concerned about how safe SNUBA® is, consider this; The SNUBA® system is designed with safety in mind, and the guides are trained to ensure your safety and wellbeing at all times!
Breathing through the regular is understandably different from regular breathing (hey, you’re underwater!) and may take some getting used to. Just keep breathing long, deep breaths, which you may find add to the therapeutic feel of the experience.
Don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it!
To get back to the surface while SNUBA® diving, you’ll need to use the hose to pull your body upwards, with “hand-over-hand” movements. This helps to control ascents and descents, which can be important when navigating over reef systems.
Hand signals make it easy to communicate while underwater. Some of the important signals you will learn during your SNUBA® diving tour are how to indicate you’re ready to go back to the surface, how to draw another SNUBA® diver’s attention to something you’ve seen, and how to alert others of potential dangers.
Simple skills like equalizing can be important during a SNUBA® diving session. All you need to do is squeeze your nose and blow outward gently as you descend. This should help your ears feel a little more comfortable while diving.
It may seem unlikely that you’re going to misplace the very thing that keeps you breathing under water. Stranger things have happened. In the event that you do, there are various ways you can go about recovering your regulator. If it falls out in front of you while SNUBA® diving, you’ll simply need to reach out, place it back into your mouth, and clear it of water by blowing forcefully into it. If your regulator falls out behind you, or you aren’t quite sure where it is, you may just want to return to the surface briefly to get it back in place, making sure to breathe the air out of your lungs as you make your way to the surface.
Water getting into your diving mask is a common occurrence during SNUBA® diving expeditions. You can minimize the chances of this happening by ensuring your mask is strapped on right – tight enough to stay put, but not so tight that you’re uncomfortable. If water gets into your mask anyway, you can simply follow these PADI® endorsed steps to clear your mask.
If this doesn’t work, you can simply return to the surface to empty the water out of your mask.
The weight belt makes it easy to descend and maintain the correct depth while SNUBA® diving, but you can also use your arms and legs to control buoyancy. The most important thing to remember is that you can easily ascend back to the surface by using “hand to hand” movements to propel your body in the direction of the surface.
SNUBA® diving is great fun while on the sunny shores of the Caribbean. If you’re in the Bahamas, there are exciting SNUBA® Tours in Nassau which cost US$162.53 per person. There are also SNUBA® Tours in Saint Lucia, SNUBA® Tours in Negril, and SNUBA® Tours in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Unless you ask for an extended tour, the actual underwater exploration may be over in about 30 minutes.
Insider Tip: Try Islands Routes for SNUBA® Tours in the Caribbean!