Skin Diving 101: What Do I Need?
Based on the comparison between scuba diving and skin diving in terms of the necessary equipment (see Skin Diving 101: What is Skin Diving?), it is quite easy to conclude that skin diving is a cheaper alternative to exploring the underwater world. No air tanks, no regulators, no buoyancy cells, and other expensive tools—more cash to spend, or save. Though you might not be able to stay underwater longer than what your lungs can permit you, skin diving is still a great way to take a peek at the ocean beneath. Besides, you need not go deep to see and enjoy color fish and coral reefs (and many more!) that inhabit the water.
Though there are a multitude of accessories that you can buy—like a wetsuit or rashguard, or a weightbelt, there are in actuality only three essential things that you need to get started on skin diving. These are: 1. Mask, 2. Snorkel, and 3. Fins
The mask is worn to aid a diver’s vision. A silicon skirt around the frame of the mask ensures a tight seal around the eye and nose area so that water cannot enter the mask and impair both vision and breathing. Masks come in various sizes and styles, but one must be extra fastidious when it comes to fitting a mask. To know if a mask fits, place the mask on your face without strapping it on, and inhale through the nose. Let go of the mask as you inhale. If the mask stays put on your face as you inhale, then you have found a right fit. The mask should be snug around your eye and nose area, otherwise, a loose fitting mask will be flooded as soon as you submerge your head in the water.
The snorkel is a J-shaped cylinder that is used to help a skin diver breath while floating face-down on the water’s surface. One end of the tube has a mouthpiece, which the diver can fit comfortably into the mouth to breathe. The top end of the snorkel extends above the back of the head. It is long enough so that when a diver is busy watching the underwater world, it is well above the surface thus supplying oxygen for the swimmer. There are two types of snorkels, one is a simple J-type and the other with a purge valve at the bottom of the snorkel. The purge valve makes the act of expelling the snorkel of water much easier (watch out for Snorkeling 101: How do I do it?). A snorkel may also have a splash guard, which is found at the top end of the snorkel. It prevents water from entering the top end of the snorkel.
Fins are used to increase the power or a swimmer’s kick, thus making it easier to move in the water. There are two types of fins, the full-foot and the open heel. As indicated by their names, a full-foot fin is a fin which covers the diver’s feet completely. Full-foot fins are usually cheaper than open-heel ones and are commonly used by snorkelers and skin divers. Open-heel fins are used mostly by scuba divers. Since the heel is left exposed, you may use booties to ensure a snug fit, as well as too keep the feet warm.
As was mentioned earlier, there are a multitude of accessories that a skin diver can buy to ensure comfort while diving. Take a trip to your local dive shop to see the other equipment that you can use when you start diving. Be safe and enjoy!