Have you ever snorkeled before? Snorkeling is one of the world’s most popular aquatic activities. Unfortunately, there are still some people who haven’t given this awesome hobby a try.
Here on my website, I work hard to collect the best information on the hobby together in one place. A lot of people are intimidated by the prospect of snorkeling, especially if they didn’t swim a lot when they were younger. Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to snorkel.
I’ve written a short but comprehensive guide on snorkeling, aimed at beginners who want to start out, or intermediate snorkelers who want to brush up on their technique. Snorkeling is remarkably simple, and once you learn how to properly enjoy snorkeling, it might become one of your favorite hobbies!
It’s easily in my top 5 favorite ways to relax.
What you need to go enjoy snorkeling for the day
You’re going to need at least a diving mask and a snorkel to start out, but I recommend getting a pair of fins as well. There are many different masks, snorkels, and fins available. I’ve listed my favorite picks for all price ranges and purposes here on the site in various articles, just to give you an idea.
Since I’ve been snorkeling for years, I’ve tested out many different brands of snorkeling gear. I provide insight on the best brands and models of snorkeling equipment to purchase to save you time and money.
The fins will definitely save your feet some pain. if you’re going to be snorkeling for extended periods of time, I definitely recommend fins. In other cases, you should be fine with a mask and snorkel.
Snorkeling basics: How to snorkel & safety while snorkeling
While many people can start snorkeling right away intuitively, some people need a little more guidance on how to snorkel properly. The first thing you’ll need to do is put on your snorkeling gear.
It is especially important that you make sure your gear is fitted to you correctly to avoid, discomfort and pain, injuries, or even death. While snorkeling is generally a very safe hobby, it is important that you don’t grow too bold too quickly and dive deeper than you should be diving.
Overconfidence is deadly in bodies of water. First-timers might experience a little bit of fear and anxiety when first learning how to snorkel, especially if they don’t regularly swim or aren’t used to diving. You can simply float near the surface if you aren’t confident diving with your snorkel gear, but you’ll experience much more fun and enjoyment if you dive a little bit deeper just to get a better look at all of the underwater wildlife.
The feeling of snorkeling can be incredibly relaxing and liberating, which is why snorkeling is a popular activity in physical therapy. Many snorkelers experience a bit of fatigue or outright exhaustion from snorkeling for the first time, especially if they are overweight, out of the habit of swimming, or generally have poor health. It is advisable to consult a medical professional before engaging in any water-related activities, especially if you have a history of medical illness.
A leaking face mask or water flooding into your snorkel tube can also be quite frightening.
Purchasing decent gear should minimize the number of times you encounter this problem. Masks come in all different shapes and sizes, and the best brands have easily adjustable straps to ensure they fit a wide variety of different head shapes and sizes. Test your mask ahead of time before diving deeper to ensure there is a good seal and that water isn’t leaking into the mask. Ideally, you should go for a dry snorkel, which prevents water from flooding back into your mouth.
Dry snorkels have an integrated seal that shuts the snorkel tube as soon as you go underwater (such as when you’re hit with a wave or if you happen to tilt your head to the side.) Dry snorkels also have something called a purge valve, which will allow you to easily blow any excess water out of the tube, in case you somehow manage to get water inside it.
Some snorkeling masks have an integrated snorkel and purge valve, but most snorkels can be easily clipped on and attached to masks. Make sure that any fins you use properly fit your feet, and aren’t too tight or too loose on your feet, ankles, and toes. Losing a fin when you need it most (in large bodies of water) could end in some serious consequences for you. If you swim all the way out to the middle of the lake and you lose your fins, you’re—at the very least—going to be exhausted by your swim back to dry land.
Fins are advisable for almost every body of water except small backyard pools, and it isn’t recommended to go without them. They save you a ton of energy by allowing you to swim more forcefully with less effort, so they are regarded as an essential safety implement. Fins will also make your time in the water a lot more enjoyable, providing you with more speed and allowing you to cover more ground (or water, in this case) in a quicker amount of time.
You’re going to want to get all of your gear sorted before you go to the beach. It’s advisable to practice putting your gear on ahead of time. I would even recommend going to a local community pool with a lifeguard before you take your swim gear out onto the beach, as this will give you ample time to figure out how to use it properly. It’s never a bad thing to be overcautious.
Once you’ve properly learned how to use your snorkel, mask, and fins, you will derive a lot more enjoyment out of the hobby. More confidence equals more fun and safety. When you’re putting on your mask, make sure to adjust the straps so that it isn’t so tight as to be uncomfortable, but is tight enough for the silicone skirt (or another mechanism) to provide a seal against the water.
You should also practice using the purge valve. Water is purged in most masks by blowing with force to expel water out of the valve. If you aren’t an excellent swimmer, I’d caution you to use a snorkeler’s vest or another similar flotation device to keep yourself afloat. While you might think this looks a bit amateur, it’s always better to look silly and be safe rather than put yourself at risk.
Even if you feel you’ve become accustomed to your snorkel gear, you should always swim slowly and never overexert yourself. Exhaustion is never good, and it puts you at significant risk, especially in open waters.
Swimming is healthy for your body, as it is a low-impact form of exercise; nonetheless, swimming still expends quite a bit of energy on the part of your body, and it can easily sneak up on you with intense exhaustion. Never overexert yourself. Since snorkels limit your airflow to some extent, you’ll need to keep your swimming speed a little slower than what you’re used to.
Swimming more slowly should give you more time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and sensations of diving into the water. When you’re first starting out, it’s never recommended to start snorkeling by diving into the water from a boat. Jumping straight into deep waters gives even the most experienced swimmers anxiety.
The more anxious you become, the more likely you are to lose your natural buoyancy and sink, and this could prove deadly. Relax, swim at a comfortable pace, and start out by going into the water from a beach (or to a community pool.)Always take someone with you.
Never, ever swim alone.
While you might have to trek to some low-traffic areas of your local beach to enjoy breathtaking underwater vistas, always take a friend. Seeing other snorkelers in the water can help you gauge the conditions and provide you with more confidence, which in turn leads to a better snorkeling experience.
Avoid choppy waters, high wind, and sea storms. Calm spots of the water are likely to result in better views of underwater wildlife, as well as better swimming conditions for you and whoever you take.
If you’re snorkeling with children, make sure they have flotation devices and are within reach of you at all times. Just like you wouldn’t let your young children cross a busy street without guidance, you certainly shouldn’t let them swim out into potentially dangerous waters without your help. Snorkeling is a wonderful family activity, but only when enjoyed with proper safety procedures taken into consideration.
When you are confident enough to start diving, show respect to your local beaches and to other swimmers. Don’t pick up, take home, or even touch ocean wildlife. These creatures are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and human contact. Be considerate and preserve ocean wildlife for the enjoyment of future generations!
I hope you’ve brushed up on your snorkeling basics and now understand how to snorkel and be safe during the activity. Hopefully, this article has stirred some excitement in your heart.
Snorkeling is an amazing hobby, and the things you’ll see and the feelings you’ll experience underwater are difficult to replicate with any other hobby. Diving with full visibility can be a restorative, healing experience, and leaves you with a sense of wonder that often remains for days at a time.
I look forward to hearing about your snorkeling experiences below in the comments!