Picture this; you’re standing on a beach, looking out at the beautiful blue and green water. You want to see what the underwater realm has to offer you, but you’re hesitant because you’ve never snorkeled before, let alone become ‘one’ with the fish. So, if you are looking for an inexpensive, all-immersive experience, why not try snorkeling? Continue reading this beginner’s guide to snorkeling to find out how to rock this sport sooner than you think.
Snorkeling is just like riding a bike, with practice, it just gets better and better.
The key to a successful snorkeling trip is to be relaxed throughout the experience and to enjoy every second of it. All you really need to snorkel are basic swimming skills and even more importantly than that, the ability to float.
When thinking about equipment, you’ll require a mask and a breathing tube also known as a snorkel. All other equipment is optional however it might provide you with some extra mobility and safety. If you are desperate to go out snorkeling and want to know the essentials then follow this guide and you’ll be snorkeling in no time.
Good Quality Equipment
Buying good quality equipment will not only make you feel more comfortable, it will also help with your confidence and of course last longer.
Choosing the right gear is essential and it’s sometimes a good idea to buy it before you leave for your snorkeling destination. Everyone is slightly different, so what might fit your partner or traveling buddy, may not necessarily work for you.
Make sure that you do your research before buying and don’t always opt for the cheapest or most expensive brand.
Choosing A Mask
The best type of mask for snorkeling is one with wide eye sockets that covers your nose, to ensure you don’t inhale the water once your head is under the surface. Some masks available nowadays have the option of covering your entire face, which not only makes it easy for you; it also allows you to have more peripheral vision.
A mask with a head strap is important, as this is where you can easily adjust your mask to fit your head properly as well as attach your snorkel breathing tube. Typically, all masks have a mild suction, with a silicone rim, which allows the mask to firmly mold to your face and prevent the water from entering your mask.
The viewing glass of your mask can come with a range of different qualities. These include UV protection, scratch resistant, anti-fog, anti-reflection and so much more depending on your preferences.
Choosing A Snorkel
The snorkel is simply a plastic tube that allows you to breathe once your face is in the water. Snorkels that have valves make spewing out the water easier. Valves are also useful if you snorkel around waves as they prevent the water from entering the top of the snorkel, stopping you from choking.
Always make sure your snorkel has a soft mouthpiece. Most snorkelers tend to clamp down on the mouthpiece to prevent it slipping out of their mouths, so if your mouthpiece is not made from silicone, you may end up with a tremendous jaw ache.
A wide snorkel tube is essential for easy breathing.
Snorkeling with fins is not essential, however, they do improve your safety, comfort, and mobility in the water. They can help you swim and also allow you to get deeper than you ever would without them.
Short fins do work when snorkeling, however, the longer the fin, the less effort you have to put in, to move forward. When choosing fins, they should be long, flexible and easy to put on and take off. Fins are available in a full-foot or open heel style and it really is down to your particular preference. Some fins do come with an adjustable strap to ensure they fit your foot perfectly; there is nothing worse than losing one of your fins mid snorkel.
Extra Safety Equipment To Pack
As well as packing your three essentials for snorkelling mentioned above, there are also a number of other bits and bobs to take with you on your snorkelling trip, which will not only help you spend less time worrying in the water, but will also help you to have a safer and more enjoyable experience all around.
When traveling to any hot country and even cold country for that matter, sun block or sunscreen is essential. When snorkeling the water increases the effects of the sun, so wearing sunscreen should NOT be forgotten. Before jumping into the water, make sure you have layered yourself with enough sun protection to last you the whole time you are in the water.
A snorkel vest is a brightly colored vest that will help you become visible to any nearby boat traffic. Snorkel vests are also mildly buoyant and can help you to stay in the perfect position whilst snorkeling. Whilst they are not essential to snorkeling they do aid in safety.
Rash Guard or Wetsuit
A rash guard is just another layer of sun protection and comes in many colors and styles depending on your preference. If you decide to take a snorkeling trip to slightly colder waters, then adding a wetsuit to your kit is a great idea, as it will keep you warmer for longer, allowing you to spend more time in the water.
The whole point of snorkeling is being able to see the fish and marine life, so if your mask is permanently fogged up, this doesn’t make for a great experience. Anti-fog spray is a great way to prevent your mask from fogging up. All you need to do is spray it into your mask before every adventure and see what the phenomenal underwater world has to offer.
If you forget your anti-fog spray another way to keep your mask free from fog is to use toothpaste. Smother it all over the inside lens of your mask and rinse off before getting into the water, this usually does the trick.
In order for you to be more relaxed whilst on your snorkeling adventure and not worried about your valuables that you’ve left on the beach, why not take them with you in an airtight waterproof storage bag that you can seal up and place around your neck?
Important Tips Before Entering The Water
Now that you’ve got all of your equipment and you’re pretty much ready to go, here are a few tips to help ensure you get the most out of your snorkeling experience.
Tip #1 Practice Makes Perfect
Before jumping straight into the water, it’s always a good idea to find a spot that is safe and calm before entering the big open ocean. This will also provide the perfect opportunity to practice putting on your equipment and finding the perfect fit for your mask and fins.
Not only will this help with your technique it will also help boost your confidence.
Practicing your breathing is also a good thing before going out into the ocean. Snorkeling is not only about floundering on the surface, but it’s also all about taking in a big gulp of air and swimming down to the reef or other marine life. So practicing holding your breath for short periods of time will help you get a one-on-one experience with the marine world.
Tip #2 Know Your Limits
If you’re traveling with an experienced snorkeler, don’t feel pressured to go beyond what you feel comfortable with. If you prefer to stay shallow and check out what’s going on in a place where your feet can touch the ground, then stay there. Snorkelling is not about going out into the deep.
Tip #3 Choosing A Location
Where ever you find water, fish and other snorkelers is usually a good place to start. Starting off your snorkeling experiences from a beach is usually a good place as you can choose how deep you would like to go. If you’re ready, confident and want to get straight in, then maybe a charted snorkeling boat is a great place to begin. Snorkeling off a boat is a great way to experience the marine world from a scuba divers perspective, without lugging all the heavy gear with you.
Always choose a snorkeling spot that you know is full of interesting reefs, corals, fish, and marine critters. There is nothing worse than traveling to a spot and realizing it’s a barren reef.
Tip #4 Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Before getting into the water ensure that you know exactly where you are. It’s always good to find a particular tree or marking that will allow you to stay close to your entry point. As you are getting into natures swimming pool, the tides and currents can change any second and you could end up half a mile down the beach if you don’t keep track of where you are.
Never swim out in the ocean alone and always make sure someone knows you are out snorkeling.
Tip #5 DON’T TOUCH
You may have come across the cutest and what looks to be the softest marine creature or coral you’ve ever seen, but whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH it. Marine creatures can be scared quite easily and some can be extremely dangerous to humans so make sure you keep a distance from them. Remember that you are entering their home, not yours.
Tip #6 Have Fun!
There is nothing quite like snorkeling, so if you get the opportunity, don’t miss out. There is so much to see lying just under the surface.
With this beginner’s guide to snorkeling, you are on the right path to soon need an intermediate and advanced one but please, let us know if we missed anything in the comments below. We’d love to keep it as resourceful and updated as possible!
Disclaimer: This article was brought to you by Torben Lonne, Editor in Chief at DiveIN.