Snorkeling vs scuba diving: which is better?

The long debated question: scuba diving vs snorkeling, which is better?

Snorkeling is a popular activity whereby the person swims at the surface with a mask, snorkel and fins. While diving, you have added equipment including a BCD (buoyancy control device), tank, dive computer, wetsuit and weights. Using this equipment, you can go down to a given depth. On a Discover Scuba Dive, the maximum depth is 12 meters, Open Water Divers can reach 18 meters and Advanced Open Water Divers can plunge even further to a depth of 30 meters. 

 

Snorkeling in Muscat

Snorkeling at Daymaniyat Islands

You can snorkel with little experience of being in the water. Whereas, diving can take some theory and practical experience before getting the hang of it. If you aren’t confident in the water, you can wear a life jacket to keep you afloat while you snorkel. It’s also possible to gain experience snorkeling to build your confidence before going diving. You don’t require a certification and snorkeling can be done nearly everywhere. On the other hand, diving requires you to get certified and when you dive in a new place you should ideally dive with a professional diver to be on hand at all times to act as a guide. 

 

 

Scuba Diving around Oman

Scuba Diving in Oman

To start scuba diving, it’s important that you have the right equipment and perform pre-dive safety checks. You need to learn the theory behind diving safely and then put it into practice. For instance, how to perform safety stops for three minutes at five meters, conduct buddy checks, and be able to remain neutrally buoyant. While this sounds complex, divers from their second dive are able to do this successfully. 

 

 

Diving allows you to immerse yourself in the underwater world for an extended period of time. Most snorkelers can get tired easily and will remain in the water for shorter than an average dive. While it takes longer to start to dive and is more expensive, the rewards are immense. When it comes down to it, when comparing snorkeling vs diving, it will mostly depend on personal preference. 

 

At Aura Divers, we’re here to help you with all your diving and snorkeling needs in Oman. Contact us for more information or to book. 

 


A whale shark swimming close to the surface

5 types of sharks you can dive with in Oman

5 types of sharks you can dive with in Oman 

Diving with sharks is an amazing experience. Most sharks are scared of humans and will swim away as soon as they see us. You can spot up to 10 species of sharks around Oman but let’s take a look at some of the most popular: 

 

blacktip sharks in Oman
Diving with blacktip reef sharks in Oman

Blacktip Reef Shark

The blacktip reef shark is a very skittish shark which poses no threat to humans. They can range from 1 to 3 meters in length. One of the most popular sharks to see while diving in Oman, you can find them at Seahorse Bay in Bandar Khayran and throughout the dive sites at Daymaniyat Islands

 

 

Whitetip reef shark while diving in Oman
A whitetip reef shark swimming

Whitetip Reef Shark

The whitetip reef shark is the most common shark to be found around the Arabian Gulf. You can usually spot them resting in caves. These sharks hunt at night so during the day, it's easy to find them resting in dark places. Average length is roughly 1.25 meters. 

 

 

Leopard shark at Daymaniyat Islands
A leopard shark at Daymaniyat Islands

Leopard Shark

Leopard sharks, otherwise known as Zebra sharks, live at Daymaniyat Islands. They are truly beautiful, with a long slender body, and an equally long tail. You can find them while resting on a sandy bottom. Leopard sharks eat clams, fish eggs, and shrimp and pose no threat to humans. 

 

 

A whale shark swimming close to the surface
Whale sharks in Oman

Whale Shark

Whale sharks are actually not whales at all and are actually a type of filter-feeder shark. From July to September, it’s common to find whale sharks at Daymaniyat Islands and Al Fahal Island. You can spot them while diving and snorkeling as they use their mouths to filter plankton from the water and remain close to the surface. 

 

Oman Bullhead Shark

The Oman Bullhead Shark lives around the central coast of Oman and Pakistan. The average length is 56cm. The chance of seeing an Oman Bullhead Shark while diving is very rare, but some divers have reported spotting these majestic sharks during a dive. Sadly, they caught as bycatch by fisherman and as a result, their population is significantly declining. 

 

Seeing a shark during a dive is an exhilarating experience for even the most accomplished diver. So what are you waiting for? Book your dives today


close-up macro photography of mantis shrimp taken while diving in Oman

Macro Diving in Muscat Oman

Number of dive sites: 25
Boat ride: 15 minutes
Good for: All level divers, Macro photography lovers

Did you know that there are great dive sites for macro diving in Oman?

A trip to Bander Khayran in Muscat is where you should go if you want world-class diving with warm water, dense live coral reefs, many macro organisms, and a diverse range of megafauna, as well as uncrowded dive sites.

Coral reefs

Bander Khayran is one of Oman's must-see treasures, with over 25 diving spots featuring stunning rock formations, cliffs, and reefs teeming with vibrant corals and tropical fish With essential features like staghorn, orange cup, cabbage, and whip coral, this is a fantastic environment for macro photographers. The majority of the rock falls are surrounded by colorful soft corals and sponges, as well as enormous gorgonians that aren't seen on any other Muscat island.

What can you see

We are lucky to have warm waters free of currents majority of the year, this coupled with our nearshore reefs—many within swimming distance of the beach or a 15 minute boat ride from our dive centre these top dive sites are perfect for offering macro seekers ideal conditions and ample time to go on a hunt.

Moray eels, shrimp, crabs, nudibranchs, pipefish, lobster, scorpionfish, lionfish, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish can all be found in between the rocks and crevices.

Fish fish and more fish!

And let not forget all the other exciting marine life to to swim alongside. Snapper, batfish, jacks, and barracuda may all be found during your dive, in addition to schooling fusiliers. Oman is home to six turtle species, eagle, mobula, and manta rays, as well as reef, guitar, leopard, and the occasional whale sharks, are among the megafauna highlights, which are topped off by dolphins and pilot whales, and a few fascinating wrecks.

Go the the right places

It's all about location when it comes to macro diving in Oman, and we've got you covered. Contact us now for more information and to book a trip with us.

macro photography of shrimp taken while diving in Oman
macro photography of nudi nudibranch taken while diving in Oman
macro photography of shrimp taken while diving in Oman pink white
close-up macro photography of coral taken while diving in Oman
macro photography of stargazer fish taken while diving in Oman nightdive
close-up macro photography of coral polyp taken while diving in Oman
macro photography of shrimp taken while diving in Oman yellow black white bumps
macro photography of crab inside shell hermit crab taken while diving in Oman white shell red crab

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6 Steps If Separated From Your Dive Buddy

Your dive buddy is your lifeline underwater. They can me a second set of eyes and support if anything goes wrong. But there are occasions where you might lose sight of each other. Say if you get separated during a dive with low visibility, or if you are focused on your compass only to look up and realize that your buddy swam in the other direction.

What should you do if you’re separated from your diving buddies?

1- Establish a lost-buddy pre-dive plan.

Remember to always make a lost-buddy plan part of your pre-dive check, especially when diving with a new buddy or a stranger. Agree on how long you’ll search for each other underwater (usually one minute) and then agree to end the dive (after making your safety stop) and reuniting on the surface.

Remember to arm you and your buddy’s buoyancy compensater (BCD) with the essential emergency gear like SMB and whistle.

2- Stop and slowly turn 360 °

As soon as you notice that you cannot see your dive buddy, stop where you are, establish neutral buoyancy, and do a slow visual 360° spin. Also look both upwards and downwards to check whether they have ascended or descended. Try spotting your buddy’s bubbles, if possible.

3- Use a signaling device

Use your tank-banger or another audio signaling device to get your buddy’s attention. He or she may be able to locate you by following the direction of the sound.

If you have a dive light on you and visibility is low, use the light while doing your slow spin. The light can be used to grab the attention of your buddy who could be behind any underwater features like big rocks.

4- Start Ascent

After the agreed time (around 1 minute), start your ascent while repeating the 1-minute turn with noise and light at every safety stop

5- Deploy your delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB)

While at your safety stop, deploy your delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) or so that your buddy can easily spot you if he is searching for you at the surface.

If you’re doing a boat dive this will also aid the boat crew in locating you.

 

6- Wait at the surface

At the surface, wait for your buddy to emerge while continuing to look for the air bubbles or DSMB. If the weather is good chances are you will be able to spot them. However if your buddy is taking too long to surface do not re-descend, instead inform the boat crew or dive center as soon as possible that your buddy is missing.

 

 


When to Buy My First Scuba Gear

 

You have just completed your open water course and now you are a certified diver. For a new diver, buying scuba gear is the final step, but if you're newly certified, how are you supposed to know what scuba gear to buy? Fear not! We’re here to help.

At the start you will want to buy scuba gear that is cheap, easy to pack and makes a big difference to your dive (rental gear my not fit properly). These are the basics, and as you continue diving you can then invest in other equipment that make your dive more comfortable.

The Basics

Scuba Mask

A perfect fitting mask makes all the difference to your diving experience. Additionally its small and lightweight and easy to pack

To test for a good watertight fitting mask:

  1. Look up at the ceiling and place the mask on your face without using the strap. It should rest evenly with no gaps.
  2. Look forward. Place the mask on your face without using the strap and gently inhale through your nose. The mask should seal easily on your face.
  3. Adjust the strap and put it on your face. Make sure the nose pocket doesn't touch your nose and that the skirt feels comfortable on your upper lip.

 

Fins

The experience of diving is so much more enjoyable when you can move effortlessly through the water. The right pair of fins helps you move through the water with more speed and agility than you would otherwise have managed.

Not to mention, fins are considered more affordable compared to other scuba gears such as regulators and BCDs, making it a great purchase for new divers.

When picking your fins look for a snug fit that doesn't pinch your toes or bind the arches of your feet. If you can't wiggle your toes, the fins are too small.

Wetsuit

When it comes to diving and maintaining a comfortable temperature under the water for long periods of time, you’re going to want a dependable wetsuit. Typically made from neoprene rubber, wetsuits are effective at locking a thin layer of water alongside your skin, which acts as padding and maintains a comfortable body temperature while you explore under the water.

Wetsuits suits should fit snugly without restricting movement or breathing. Insure that the suit is not too loose, however. Gaps at the arm, leg, crotch and neck allow water to circulate and defeat the suit's ability to prevent heat loss.

The Comfort Set

BCD

The Buoyancy control device holds your gear in place, lets you carry a tank with minimal effort, floats you at the surface and allows you to achieve neutral buoyancy at any depth. Before you try on BCDs, slip into the exposure suit you'll wear most often. Look for a BCD that fits snugly but doesn't squeeze you when inflated.

Dive Computer

Some of the most essential pieces of dive equipment are a depth gauge, submersible pressure gauge, and a compass. Dive computers are great tools since they combine all 3.

Regulators

A regulator converts the high-pressure air in your tank to ambient pressure so you can breathe it. A regulator must also deliver air to other places, such as your BC inflator and alternate second stage.

When purchasing a regulator look for a comfortable mouthpiece and select hoses of the right length for you.

 

A regulator with a comfortable mouth piece minimises a clenched jaw