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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Wear a swimsuit or a wetsuit while snorkeling. Avoid loose-fitting tee shirts and cover-ups that could restrict your movement.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Move as quietly and as calmly through the water as possible. This will help to avoid scaring away any sea life.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you’re snorkeling over a coral reef, never remove any of the corals. Coral reefs are delicate ecosystems and are rapidly being depleted.
- 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.