Updated: September 25, 2020
Snorkeling is a fun sport that almost anyone can enjoy. Families with small children can view shallow reefs as they look for colorful fish. Those with knee problems or bad backs, can float along, searching for corals and other marine life.
Even those who aren’t strong swimmers can participate in snorkeling trips. Flotation devices called snorkel vests provide enough buoyancy so you can join your swimming friends in a snorkeling adventure.
These vests are recommended for swimmers of any skill level as they allow you to save energy while in the water and some models even keep the sun off your back.
Here are a few tips and answers to questions that many first-time snorkelers may have.
Before You Get In The Water
Although snorkeling for beginners is quite easy to do, you cannot simply jump into the water. Make sure you get the right snorkel gear. You will want a mask, snorkel, snorkeling vest, and some fins. These can be rented or purchased. Do your homework first, though.
Make sure your mask fits properly. Try walking with your fins while on the shore. Finally, attach your snorkel to the mask. Wade out in the shallow water. Practice putting your face in the water and breathing through your snorkel.
Dry snorkels are recommended for beginners. The special valve allows air out but will not let water in. This can make the difference between a great first experience and a “never-again” experience.
Finally, make sure you apply plenty of water resistant sunscreen, especially on your back which will get constant exposure to the sun. Take it from someone who went snorkeling for the first time on the first day of their honeymoon.
Alternatively, rash guards are another good option and you don’t have to worry about reapplying sunscreen all the time.
Timing And Location Are Important
After you have made yourself familiar with the equipment and how to use it you will probably want to jump right off of the boat and start snorkeling. While your enthusiasm is great, your plan isn’t. First-time snorkelers should not start with a boat snorkel tour.
Group tours where you sail out to a specific location to go snorkeling are quite popular in Hawaii and other snorkel-friendly destinations. High waves, deep water, ocean currents – all of these things could cause your first attempt at snorkeling to be your last.
Is Snorkeling Dangerous?
Well, not if you do it correctly. Start slow. Research areas where the water is shallow and calm. Check the weather forecast. Is it supposed to be windy or rainy? Wind can whip up the water, causing high waves and limited visibility.
Location is important, too. Make sure you choose an area where the water is calm and there is something to see. After all, snorkeling is about seeing what is under the water. If you choose a spot with nothing to see (coral reefs, fish, formations) you will be bored.
But there are certain things to be aware of. Coral can be extremely sharp so you do need to be careful around it. Also, some fish and snails are poisonous so to be safe, avoid touching them.
Finally, if you’re snorkeling with children, be on the lookout for signs of secondary drowning as you should anytime they’ve been in the water. It’s rare but can be deadly.
Are You Ready To Get In?
Maybe you’re wondering, is snorkeling hard? This is one of the most frequently asked questions from beginners. The answer is “no“. Once you have gotten the proper equipment and the feel for it, snorkeling is easy. Even young children can snorkel.
Just remember these important things when first starting out:
- DO have a properly fitted mask
- DON’T pull the straps too tight
- DON’T bite your snorkel
- DO make sure you have fins
- DO make sure the fins fit snuggly
- DO check water/wind conditions
- DON’T do a boat tour first
- DO a walk-in the first time
- DO relax
The main thing to remember when you get into the water is to relax. Relaxing will help you to conserve your energy. It will make the snorkeling easier. It will also help the marine life to see that you are not a threat.
If the marine life is relaxed, you will see more of them. They will not hide. You can float along, quietly enjoying the corals and sea life in their natural habitat. Your snorkeling techniques will improve every time you go out. Relaxing will help you to find the best way to snorkel for you. Everyone has their own little variations.
Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints
Once you’ve learned how to snorkel, you only need to remember a few things. First – don’t touch anything you see. Coral is very delicate. Touching it can actually damage the coral. It may even die.
Touching marine life might be tempting, but it can also be illegal or even deadly. As mentioned earlier, some marine life is poisonous. Do not try to touch them.
Take only pictures – no souvenirs. Taking things from the coral reefs is damaging to the reef and the marine life. Pictures last a long time, so just snap some great photos.
Leave only footprints in the sand. Do not leave trash, water bottles or even sunscreen that could hurt the marine environment. Plastic rings from drinks can get caught on sea birds feet, around sea turtles necks or flippers, or even around fins of fish. This can be extremely hazardous to the animal.
Sunscreen can damage corals. Use only marine-safe sunscreen. Don’t use oily lotions or sun tan oils when you are getting into the water.
Take all of your trash out of the water and from the beach when you leave for the day. Leave only a set of footprints in the sand for others to see. These good snorkeling techniques will ensure everyone can enjoy the water and coral.