Water provides more resistance than air. So travelling underwater requires more force (energy) to overcome the resistance of water than travelling just on the surface of the water.
This is a really interesting question that I’d never thought about. Off hand, I’d say that it depends on what type of water you’re traveling on and in what type of vessel. If it’s calm, flat water, most likely you will use less energy traveling on top. If you’ve ever driven or rowed a boat in rough water, however, you know how much more difficult it is to move forward. Aside from just creating hills and valleys, the motion of the surface acts against the boat’s motion. Imagine if you could slip underwater. You would avoid the turbulence at the surface, and if you had an aerodynamic vessel, like a submarine or the body of a tunafish, you would have a much easier time underwater than on top.
Water is denser than air. The more water the vehicle has to push though the harder it is. Actually this is an example of pretty simple physics. You can get the idea of this if you try to run in shallow water and deeper water. The difference is pretty straight forward.
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