While scuba diving is enjoyable and addictive, snorkeling allows us to see the beauties of the water with significantly less effort and money. Despite its simplicity, many newcomers are naturally apprehensive about breathing via a tube while submerged. Don’t panic; with some training, you’ll be able to trust your equipment and focus on the fun parts of snorkeling. Underneath the surface, life is vibrant, intriguing, and thrilling! Use these pointers to gain confidence and have a more enjoyable and safe snorkeling adventure.
1. Select High-Quality Snorkeling Equipment
A leaking mask or snorkel (tube) might ruin an otherwise fantastic snorkeling day. Unfortunately, tour operators frequently hand out poor and worn-out equipment aboard boats.
Consider renting snorkeling gear from a local diving shop and taking it with you for a better snorkeling experience; the slight added expense is worth the investment. Dive shops normally have better equipment, and a professional can help you fit a mask properly. Your mask should seal, which means you can only breathe through your nose to keep it on your face. If you tighten the band too much, you risk a severe squeeze from the water pressure afterward. Pick a good snorkel with a dry valve on top to defend against wave splashes and a purge valve underneath the mouthpiece to let any water that leaks inside out.
2. Take the Rental Fins
Many first-time snorkelers are tempted to leave their fins behind, believing they will simply float or swim freely. Don’t! Fins will save you energy when snorkeling and, most crucially, may save your life if you have to swim against a rising tide.
Fins should be fitting but not overly so. When your feet are cool and damp, they will shrink a little, but fins that are too tight might create blisters on moist skin. The tops of your feet will be protected by diving boots or water shoes. While wearing fins, walk backward into and out of the water from the beach—it’ll make you appear odd, but it’ll make you less awkward!
3. Snorkel in the Right Places
It doesn’t matter if you have the best snorkeling equipment if you aren’t snorkeling in the correct spots to see marine life. If you’re snorkeling on your own, stop by a dive shop and ask the divemaster for recommendations. Before plunging in the water and hoping for the best on a tour, consult your guide. Rather than a sandy bottom, you’re more likely to see life where there is a “structure” offering sanctuary. Look around submerged rocks, walls, and outcroppings if there isn’t a reef at the location.
When swimming around a rocky outcropping, be cautious because strong currents are often held back. Also, be cautious in areas where there is a lot of boat or jet ski activity because the crew may not be able to see you if you’re drifting in the water.
4. Know-How to Clear Your Mask
The most typical problem encountered while snorkeling is a fogged-up mask. Although anti-fog mask sprays and baby shampoo are available, many divers choose a more low-tech solution. Spit on the lens in your mask just before jumping in the water, wipe the saliva off, and then give the mask a quick plunge for a light rinse.
If you put your mask on too early before entering the water, it will fog due to the temperature differential. You don’t have to come to the surface if a small amount of water leaks into your mask when snorkeling. To evacuate water from a leak, tilt your head back slightly, breathe continuously through your nose, and delicately break the bottom seal of your mask. While walking water on the surface, divers wear their masks down around their necks. A big wave can knock a mask off your face and send it tumbling to the bottom, as many snorkelers have discovered the hard way.
5. Understand How to Use a Snorkel Properly
Water can gather in your snorkel due to little leaks, diving underwater, and splashes on the surface. If the thought makes you uncomfortable, place your tongue where any water attempting to enter the mouthpiece will be felt. Turn your head slightly and blow a fast, sharp burst of air through your mouth when you hear moisture rattling in the tube. Once or twice, you should be able to clear your snorkel. Keep your head from turning more while looking around that the snorkel’s end gets dragged into a wave.
6. Don’t Touch Anything
The first rule of the sea is to not touch anything unless you’re a marine biologist. Make no exemptions when it comes to observing but not interacting. Even that seemingly innocuous shell at the bottom of the pool could be offering a home for something that requires it more than you. Many marine species have teeth, venomous spines, or stinging cells, and many have teeth, venomous spines, or stinging cells.
While coral reefs are a great place to go snorkeling, many of them are in poor condition around the world. Reefs are delicate, and a single wrong kick from your fins can wipe out decades of development. It’s never a good idea to stand on the reef.
7. Be Stealthy
Underwater, sound travels quite well, and even the wariest marine animals may notice your movements from afar. Splashing on the surface or churning up sand on the bottom will frighten the critters you’re looking for.
Make it a practice to walk slowly and silently at all times. If you happen to come upon something intriguing, simply float and watch. Don’t kick, splash, or turn your body with your hands. Rather than chasing fascinating creatures, you see, stand still—unless they sense they’re being pursued by something larger, they’ll usually come back around.
8. Use Your Legs, Not Your Arms
Snorkeling is fun, but it’s also a good workout. By controlling your rate and breathing, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself for longer. While snorkeling, using your arms frightens animals and requires more energy. Gain knowledge to dive like a pro: Only use your legs to propel yourself ahead. Many divers even interlock their fingers or clasp their hands in front of them to reduce drag and urge them to turn exclusively with their fins.
9. Protect Yourself From Sunburn
Too many snorkelers are concerned about threats under them when they should be more concerned about what is above them. It’s not uncommon for people to get severely sunburned while snorkeling, because they’re having fun in the cool water and don’t realize the damage until it’s too late.
Several of the chemicals found in traditional sunscreens have been shown to harm coral reefs. When snorkeling near reefs, use mineral-based sunscreens (non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide), which are more difficult to rub in. Better yet, wear a sun-protective shirt or rash guard while snorkeling.
10. Relax and Enjoy
Our brains don’t like the thought of breathing when face down in the water for obvious reasons! It’s reasonable to feel a little nervous at first until you learn to trust your equipment. Snorkeling confidence grows with experience, just like it does with any other sport. Establish a breathing pattern, move slowly and calmly as though you belong in that environment, and remain a passive spectator. Push through your fear with this snorkeling advice, and you’ll soon be rewarded with a glimpse into a fascinating world full of life, beauty, and drama.