While snorkeling can be an enjoyable way to see the aquatic world with your own eyes, one problem that you may encounter is the cold. This may not be a problem if you’re snorkeling in tropical waters in a sunny season, but if you’re snorkeling in cold places like Iceland, you may have trouble staying warm. Also, when you try snorkeling for longer periods of time, the temperature drops considerably due to the lack of direct sunlight underwater.
To enjoy your snorkeling adventure, keep yourself warm. And how can you do that? Follow these tips:
Make sure you are in excellent health.
Before you even decide to go snorkeling in cold water, you must be physically fit and robust. Do not continue if you’re feeling any physical symptoms – not even (or even so) a slight cold or allergies. Submerging in cold water may exacerbate any of your physical ailments or symptoms.
Choose a favorable snorkeling location.
Choosing the location needs extra consideration. Tides must be favorable, and the weather must be in calm condition, with some sunshine preferable. Also, it’s important to be safe and remain in areas where there is easy access in and out of the water – the last thing you want to do is to struggle when cold.
Have a place to stay warm.
When snorkeling in super chilly waters, make sure you have a “station” to go to should something go awry. There must be dry robes, towels, and blankets there, with warm drinks and a first aid kit available. Anyone who covers the shore must be ready to assist the snorkelers in changing back into warm and dry clothing.
Keep warm before snorkeling.
Changing into your wetsuits must be left the minute before you are to go into the water. As much as possible, it’s best to stay in warm clothing with your head, hands, and feet covered as much as possible. Keep yourself in a coat and cozy hat for as long as possible before entering the waters. If the sun is out, you can get warm under it before entering the very chilly water.
Wear a quality wetsuit.
This is probably the most important tip. It is a must to preserve your body temperature using a wetsuit, wetsuit gloves, or head coverings, and for extremely cold waters – a super thick wetsuit. The danger of snorkeling too long without a wetsuit or other protective swimwear is that you can develop hypothermia.
As the body cools down, the core body temperature drops, and the body uses more energy to heat itself back up. This process can quickly drain your energy and make swimming and snorkeling difficult, and it may even cause you to drown.
To prevent that from happening, make sure to wear a neoprene wetsuit that is the best that you can afford. You can get one with a polypropylene lining for additional protection and insulation for your body.
Here’s a guide on the kind of wetsuit you need to wear depending on the water temperature:
72 degrees or greater
Rashguard or swimsuit
Thickness doesn’t matter
Top or shorty wetsuit
0.5 mm to 1/2mm
Springsuit or full suit
2mm to 3/2 mm
Full suit and boots
3/2 mm to 4/3mm
Full suit, boots, gloves and hood
4/3 mm to 5/4/3 mm
Fully sealed and taped
Full suit, boots, gloves and hood
5/4 mm to 5/4/3 mm
Fully sealed and taped
If you are wearing a used wetsuit, check the condition and fit of the suit and its hoods and gloves as part of the pre-dive planning and preparation. Only wear well-fitting, thick suits that have no holes to prevent your body from getting cold easily. Make sure there aren’t any broken zippers or bare parts that will allow the cold water to touch your bare skin. It’s probably best to wear a 5 mm main suit with a shorty over the top, giving a 10 mm of neoprene around the upper body.
Cover your head, hands, and feet.
One thing that will help keep your body warm is covering your head, hands, and feet. Getting a full wetsuit with a hood and putting on gloves and wetsuit boots is essential when snorkeling in cold places.
When the temperatures are 43 to 52 degrees, wear a full suit, boots, gloves, and a hood with a thickness of 5/4 mm to 5/4/3 mm. The suit must be sealed and taped so that no water would enter. When choosing gloves, choose one with a thickness of 6/5 mm and above. It also must be sealed and taped.
Consider dive skins.
An option you may also consider to keep yourself warm is dive skin, as it can offer your body insulation. However, dive skins are the lightest form of diving exposure you can wear. They are typically used in snorkeling in tropical waters where the water is warmer. It also offers the least amount of protection for scraping against reefs.
Dive skins are also helpful in putting your wet suit on and off. Many divers wear a dive skin and put a wet suit over it.
Eat breakfast for the day.
Even if you’re not a breakfast person, try eating a big breakfast meal before you go snorkeling. Eating raises your body temperature from the inside. Also, choose your pre-snorkeling meal carefully. Choosing to eat fruits and vegetables can easily make your body temperature drop because they are made of water. Eat up some carbs, proteins, and fats – it can cause your body temperature to rise!
When snorkeling in cold water, it’s better if you keep moving. Yes, this is not an intense sport, but if you don’t move a lot, your blood will stop circulating, inviting more of the cold. Just keep swimming and moving to keep your blood flowing to help your body stay warm.
Surface immediately once you start shivering.
If you start to feel cold and shiver, you need to terminate the dive immediately to prevent hypothermia. There’s no need to be a martyr – your goal for snorkeling is to have fun, see different marine life and enjoy.
Change into warm, dry clothes immediately.
Once you are out of the water, strip off your wetsuit and get into snuggly, easy-to-put-on clothes as soon as possible. Don’t forget to pack your towels and robes. Make sure you also have something dry hat or something warm to cover your head, as well as wooly gloves and booties.
Bring a warm drink.
Besides your snorkeling gear , it helps if you bring something that can warm you up on the inside. Most snorkeling sites offer hot chocolate or something warm to drink afterward, but you can always bring a small thermos of your favorite warm drink. It’s important to help bring your body temperature to be normal, and it’s easy to do it by drinking something warm.