Do You Need a Wetsuit to Snorkel?

A wetsuit is a garment that is worn by surfers, divers, windsurfers, and others engaged in water sports and other activities in or on water. Wet suits are usually made of foamed neoprene and it is used to provide thermal insulation and as well as buoyancy and protection from abrasion, ultraviolet exposure, and stings from marine organisms.

legs of people wearing wetsuits while standing on the sand
legs of people wearing wetsuits while standing on the sand

There are many people who wonder whether or not they need to wear a wetsuit when snorkeling. Divers are the ones you will see wearing wetsuits all the time because they dive in much deeper water where it is much colder. There are lots of situations when you won’t need a wetsuit for snorkeling, but there are also times when you will find it beneficial to wear one. Today, we are going to help you find out if you need a wetsuit to snorkel.

Is a Wetsuit Needed for Snorkeling?

The need to wear a wetsuit when snorkeling depends on a few things but the most important of them is the water temperature. Aside from that, the length of time you will be snorkeling and as well as personal preference are also some factors.

Most people would recommend wearing a wetsuit if the sea temperature is under 75°F or 24°C. But if you will only be in the water for a short amount of time, wearing a wetsuit is not necessary. If you are too sensitive to the cold, you can wear a wetsuit if the water temperature is between 75°F and 80°F (24°C and 27°C). But if the sea temperature is above 80°F, you won’t need to wear a wetsuit. Therefore, it’s better to check first the average sea temperatures in different snorkeling locations you wish to go to so that you’ll be able to know if you will need to bring a wetsuit with you.

Aside from protecting you from the cold, there are other advantages that come with wearing a wetsuit when snorkeling. As mentioned earlier, wetsuits can also protect you from the sun and against abrasions as well. They can also help in keeping you afloat.

You might also think, what if you’d like theextra protection that wetsuits offer but you will be snorkeling in warm water. Well, if that is the case, you can just opt for wearing a rash guard instead. It is a great alternative for warmer water as it will provide SPF protection from the sun and as well as light protection from scratches and scrapes.

Two Different Styles of Wetsuit

If ever you will need or want a wetsuit on your next snorkeling adventure, there are two different styles you can find in the market. Choosing one will depend on the temperature of water you will be snorkeling in and your personal preference as well. There are two main styles which are the full wetsuit and the shorty wetsuit.

  • Full Wetsuit

A full wetsuit can cover almost all of your body, leaving only your hands, feet, and hands exposed. This type of wetsuit obviously offers more protection from the cold, the sun, and from stings and scrapes. However, it is bulky and more cumbersome to get on and off.

  • Shorty Wetsuit

Shorty wetsuits, on the other hand, are basically the shorts and t-shirt version of a wetsuit. These are lighter compared to full wetsuits and are much easier to get on and off, making it a more convenient choice. However, this type of wetsuit does not offer the same protection as a full wetsuit. Therefore, if you choose this style, make sure that you will apply sunscreen to your exposed arms and legs.

A shorty wetsuit is sufficient for most snorkeling trips. It’s because the surface is usually warmer than the depths below. But if you have a low tolerance to the cold, then a full wetsuit is what you need.

Recommended Wetsuits for Snorkeling

If you are wondering what type of wetsuit you need for your snorkeling trip, here are some that we can recommend.

  • Skin Suits and Rash Guard

These are best for warmer waters because they will just protect you from the sun and the little stingers in the water. Skin suits are made of thin material that is either full body or a long sleeve t-shirt.

  • 1 mm Wetsuits

A 1 mm wetsuit is good for warmer waters or if you have the tendency to get a bit chilly. It will give you a bit of added protection if you happen to feel cold in warmer waters or if you want to have a longer snorkel session.

  • 3 mm to 5 mm Wetsuits

These types of wetsuits are best for colder waters and for people that really get cold no matter how warm the water is. It is also a great in-between option if you are going to snorkel in places where temperatures can change dramatically. Choosing the 5 mm wetsuit option will keep you warm or quite possibly too warm, depending on the temperature of the water. This is a great choice if you will be snorkeling in cold water, for example in 64°F or 18°C.

Whether you are snorkeling in warm water or cold water, wearing a wetsuit can help you stay protected. We hope the information we shared will be able to help you figure out if you need to wear a wetsuit on your next snorkeling session. If you want to know more about snorkeling equipment, check out our post about the Equipment You Absolutely Need for Snorkeling for more information.