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Snorkeling Tips

Updated on April 9, 2010

If you’ve read many of my articles and stories, you know that I have a passion for water, especially for the sea. Whenever I get the chance, I make the trek to the Atlantic or to the Gulf of Mexico. I enjoy lots of things about the beach, but next to saltwater fishing, snorkeling is my favorite aquatic pastime.

Snorkeling in clear water is like being in another world – in a realm of surreal underwater beauty, where all is peaceful, quiet, and graceful. When snorkeling, you’ll get to view all sorts of marine life, including plants, schools of fish, rays, starfish, sand dollars, crabs, and various kinds of seashells.

One of the best things about snorkeling is that is incredibly relaxing, and it’s easy. My granddaughter, Lexi, has been snorkeling since she was three or four years old! If you plan to snorkel with a young kid, you might want to let them practice in a swimming pool first, before snorkeling in the ocean.

Snorkeling requires no special training, and the snorkeling equipment is inexpensive and readily available. I’ve never been snorkeling where I had to have any sort of permit, either.

If you’ve never been snorkeling, or if it’s been a while since you went on an underwater snorkel adventure, you need to brush up on a few tips:

  1. Make sure your mask fits properly. The strap should be near the top of your skull, at the widest part. Before entering the water, test the seal on the facial mask. Breathe in and out a few times to make sure there are no air leaks. If there are air leaks, there will be water leaks. The fit is especially important when it comes to kids snorkel gear.
  2. If you have long sideburns, a beard, or a mustache, your mask might not adhere properly. Chapstick will work wonders here! If your hair tends to get in the way, secure it tightly in a ponytail.
  3. Never snorkel alone. Take a buddy with you, and always remain within sight of each other. Snorkeling isn’t inherently dangerous, but in the ocean, anything can happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Besides, it’s more fun when you’re snorkeling with a friend!
  4. Make sure the viewing part of your mask is clean. If it fogs up from your breath, the best way to clean it is with saliva and salt water.
  5. Wear a swimsuit or a wetsuit while snorkeling. Avoid loose-fitting tee shirts and cover-ups that could restrict your movement.
  6. Apply waterproof sunscreen to the backs of your legs and to your arms. The sun on the water can give you a nasty burn before you realize it. You probably won’t feel it at the time because you’ll be partially submerged in the water.
  7. The best way to snorkel is to float on your belly. If you can’t float on your own, you can use a snorkel vest or even a small inflatable float.
  8. Swim fins will help you move from site to site more quickly, but they’re not absolutely necessary. If you do wear fins, make sure they fit snugly.
  9. If you’re snorkeling over rocks or shell beds, you might prefer wearing water shoes instead of swim fins. You never know when you might actually have to stand up.
  10. Move as quietly and as calmly through the water as possible. This will help to avoid scaring away any sea life.
  11. If water gets in your snorkel tube, blow with out with a burst of breath. After doing so, make sure it’s clear before inhaling again.
  12. When you’re snorkeling, it’s easy to lose track of time and space. Stop every once in a while and check your location in relation to the shore. If you don’t, you could find yourself carried by the currents to possibly dangerous depths.
  13. The ocean is full of creatures that bite, sting, fin, and have venom. Don’t try to touch any creatures unless you’re 100% sure they’re safe. If you plan on collecting shells, most of them will be on the bottom. Carry a small net with you to make it easier to scoop them up. If the shell you find contains a living organism, show it to the kids and then return it to its home.
  14. If you’re snorkeling over a coral reef, never remove any of the corals. Coral reefs are delicate ecosystems and are rapidly being depleted.
  15. If you ever get caught in a rip tide or rip current, try to remain calm. Don’t try to swim back to shore. Instead, swim parallel to the beach until you’re out of the rip current, then swim back to shore.

Places to snorkel - the best snorkeling

The best place to snorkel depends on what you hope to see. If you're targeting fish, the best snorkeling will most likely be around structure that attracts fish. This might include docks, rocks, or reefs.

If you're looking for shells, starfish, and sand dollars, the best snorkeling for those is usually over sandy bottoms. The sand dollars will often be found buried in the sand. If you snorkel in shallow water, you can run your hands across the bottom as you drift along to find the sand dollars.

Snorkeling equipment - snorkeling gear

What kind of snorkeling gear or snorkeling equipment will you need? Basically, all you have to have are a snorkeling mask and a snorkel. These are usually purchased together as a mask snorkel sets or snorkel kits. If you want snorkeling fins, you can purchase these items in mask snorkel fins snorkeling sets. Kids snorkel gear is also available, including a snorkel combo.

Snorkeling gear - snorkeling accessories

Other snorkeling accessories you might consider are a snorkel vest, a small dip net, or a snorkeling camera. A snorkel camera will provide the opportunity for some amazing underwater photos! If the water is chilly, you might also consider a wetsuit.

Below, you'll find great prices on quality snorkeling gear, including snorkeling masks, snorkel vests, snorkeling fins, wetsuits, mask snorkel fins snorkeling sets, and kids snorkel gear.

Kids love to snorkel!
Kids love to snorkel!

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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 5 years ago from The High Seas

      Snorkeling is just about my favorite thing in the world to do and it's something that everyone should try. I snorkeled last year with lemon sharks in French Polynesia and the year before with both black and white tipped reef sharks in Fiji. Great fun.

    • profile image

      Ken F 6 years ago

      Thanks for the chapstick tip. I have been snorkeling for over 30 years but never heard of that one before. Usually I just shave all facial hair before a tropical vacation, after all it only takes about a week or so for it to grow back. I’ll try the chapstick next time though. By the way, I noticed that you did not mention weight belts. I have gotten so used to using them now that I won’t even consider snorkeling without one. About 4 or 5 pounds will give you neutral bouyancy in seawater with you lungs filled to half capacity, just enough air to clear the snorkel. Of course if you are using a wet suit you will need considerably more weight. Anyway with the weight belt you will be able to stay under water much longer because you don’t have to expend all that energy fighting to stay down. Still, although this does not really affect your ability to float on the surface or to swim, I would not recommend it for beginners, especially if you are not using fins. Only advanced snorkelers should try this. The best belt I’ve found is the Seaflex. It’s mostly made of neoprene which makes it very comfortable against the skin and there are pouches on both sides to hold shot type weight bags.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, Shimon, you can! If you're not a swimmer, please take a buddy along who is. A couple of my grandkids snorkeled before they could swim - they wore a good swim vest.

    • profile image

      shimon shuchat 6 years ago

      can i snorkel using only a vest i dont know how to swim

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Peter! Hope your 2011 is wonderful!

    • profile image

      Peter 6 years ago

      I missed the date; sorry! Happy New Year from Switzerland!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Peter. I'l have to wait for the weather to get warmer!

    • profile image

      Peter 6 years ago

      Hi Habee, keep it packed for whenever you go! I hope you can go soon.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Peter! Actually, I think it's in my suitcase! lol

    • profile image

      Peter 6 years ago

      Hi Habee! Where did you leave your snorkeling equipment?

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Peter! I just did some snorkeling around a private island in the gulf, off the coast of FL. The water was super clear, so I could see all sorts of fish and other marine life. It was very relaxing!

    • profile image

      peter 7 years ago

      Habee, since we are getting a bit "older", we should always try to continue doing what we love to do, maybe a bit slower and with a bit of extra care. Swimming underwater is the best of meditation and good sport. Let's go snorkeling.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I've always wanted to go to Crystal River! I'm going to read your hub now!

    • Lyria profile image

      Lyria 7 years ago

      Habee, great hub on snorkeling. I especially like the tips you listed in detail. I'm going to link to it from my hub about my experience snorkeling in Crystal River.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Peter, I did when I was younger. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Peter 7 years ago

      I am a big snorkeling fan, too. I have snorkeled in a lot of places. Love free diving to 10-20 feet. I love the flexibility of moving around freely. Being at the surface when I want to and then diving down for maybe 40 seconds and coming back up.

      Do you free dive, too?

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      We're going to a gulf beach in July, also, Jen. And we'll be snorkeling!

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 7 years ago

      I'm going on vacation in July and I hopefully I will be able snorkel. There's just nothing like it. It truly is like a whole other world under the water!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Audrey, we're lucky to live relatively near the clear waters of the Gulf! Come on down - we'll go snorkeling!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Something I've always wanted to do - even our legally blind son did this as a senior project and although the waters of Puget Sound were 'murky' at times, he said it was a great experience! Thanks for the info - I will add it to my 'someday' list. I don't think practicing in the jacuzzi is going to cut it though.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Herbi, that would be paradise!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Austin, I'm just a couple of hours away from the clear waters of Florida's gulf coast!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Granny - something else we have in common!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, HH, I am fortunate.

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      OHHHHH.... I want to go snorkeling right now! Wouldn't it be nice to just live somewhere that you could just go snorkle any given day like going to the park. Fabulous hub! Great tips! Rated up

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I actually prefer snorkeling to scuba, it's much less dangerous and you can see pretty much the same stuff. Unfortunately, the Texas Gulf is so murky you can't see anything! Fortunately, Cancun and Cozumel are but a short flight away. I used to go there frequently.

    • profile image

      granny's house 7 years ago

      Great hub as always. I have a love for the sea also. So I love reading your hubs.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A great hub, habee, whith all the informtion and instruction needed. You are lucky.