Snorkeling 101: Beginner’s Guide

Many people overlook the fun that may be had when snorkeling. It’s marketed as something everyone can do and frequently entails crashing through the surface while wearing rental equipment and a swim vest, which attracts many tourists to tropical destinations. But there’s so much more to snorkeling than meets the eye. In fact, snorkeling, or skin diving as it was then termed, gave rise to modern scuba diving.

Snorkeling is one of the most gratifying activities you can do while on vacation. Its convenience lies in the fact that, unlike scuba diving, all you need is a mask, fins, and a snorkel—no bulky scuba gear bag required. Additionally, it gives you more flexibility because you can bring your gear on vacations where it wouldn’t be practical to bring a lot of scuba equipment. Further, because there are no bubbles, you can frequently approach aquatic species more closely than when using scuba gear. Check here our recommendations for best Gopro cameras for snorkeling.

What is snorkeling?

Snorkeling is defined as swimming on or through the water while wearing a diving mask, a shaped breathing tube called a snorkel, and usually swim fins.

With snorkeling gear, you can swim with your face and torso submerged, allowing you to take in air while you swim. However, unlike scuba diving, you must remain above water at all times to prevent water from filling your snorkel (breathing tube).

So, get the most out of your snorkeling experience by following these tips!

snorkeling guide

Things to Remember Before and During your Snorkeling Trip!

Here are some tips you have to keep in mind to have a more enjoyable experience while snorkeling!

Preparation

Taking the time to prepare beforehand will allow you to make the most of your next snorkeling trip and leave the beginners in your wake.

Improve your swimming

If you aren’t the best swimmer, enroll in some classes at your local pool. And if you already know how to swim, improving your skills can only help you more in the water. Pay close attention to the freestyle because you’ll be applying the kicking technique from that style when you go snorkeling. 

The swim vest is frequently used with snorkeling suits and can be dispensed with if you have good swimming ability. A snorkeling vest will increase your float, but it will also make it more difficult for you to move around in the water. Moreover, they make diving to observe a reef or fish more difficult, if not impossible. Mastering swimming techniques will make you more safe while in the water.

Practice

Swimming is one thing but swimming while wearing fins is a whole different experience. If you’re new to swimming with fins, you may experience cramping since the added drag, and weight of the fins take a heavier toll on the muscles. So grab a pair of fins to the local swimming pool or your home waters, and do laps while wearing them. Alternate between longer, moderately-paced segments and shorter, faster ones.

Improve your breath hold

For the most part, snorkelers stay on the surface and breathe through the snorkel while gazing downward. However, some more experienced snorkelers venture into the skin-diving realm by making occasional dives below the surface while holding their breath. This will enable you to see marine life up close and explore reefs and other underwater features. You may improve your breath-holding ability and swimming prowess to make the most of your time underwater.

Conserving Energy While Snorkeling

It might not seem like a serious workout to take a leisurely dip in warm water, but snorkeling can exhaust you! Because water has a higher heat capacity than air, your body will continue losing heat even while in very warm water. Additionally, using fins to move ahead demands some energy. 

You can understand why it’s helpful to think about minimizing your energy consumption when you consider that snorkeling activities might last all day long and involve hours spent in the water. Just like when scuba diving, keep in mind to take your time, relax, and let your fins do the work.

Conserving your Air while Snorkeling

Take long, deep breaths. It can be very different from breathing normally to breathing through a snorkel. To get the most out of it, it’s crucial to take deep breaths. Deep breathing can also lower your heart rate, which in turn can relieve stress and help you conserve energy.

Snorkeling Deep

Many snorkelers are perfectly content to stay on the surface the entire dive; in that case, they should. Others are driven to make quick breath-hold dives to get closer to deep-water attractions like reefs or animals. 

There are a few things you can do to make the most of every single breath, including:

First and foremost, relax. Take a few seconds to calm down your breathing and move on the surface as little as possible. Then, take a few deep, controlled breaths.

Just take several slow, deep breaths to fill and empty your lungs completely. Then inhale deeply, carefully filling your diaphragm, chest, and then the top of your torso completely.

When you are prepared to descend, bend your body at the waist 90 degrees so that your torso is immersed and vertical in the water, and then lift your leg so that it is vertical but above the water. You will descend because of the weight of your legs, which will help you conserve energy. Use your fins for diving deeper as soon as they touch the water.

By just slowing down and relaxing, most people may significantly improve their ability to hold their breath. While swimming, try to keep your body as streamlined as possible and focus on moving forward with each stroke.

snorkeling equipment

Equipment for Snorkeling: What You Need

Snorkel and Mask

The success of your dive depends on your mask fitting properly; give it a try before you dive. Tests can be made by simply placing the mask over the user’s nose and mouth and taking a breath in. You know you have a mask that fits exactly when the seal is perfect and stays in place without you holding it.

Selection of a leak-proof mask is quite crucial because they come in a variety of sizes and styles. As tempting as it may be to dive right in, before you do, take the time to learn the basics of how to defog your mask (the spit and rub method work pretty well for masks!).

Nothing is worse than a constantly foggy mask. In the same vein, it’s helpful to know how to release water from your mask if it starts to fill up.

Fins

Renting fins is always advised, particularly for extended swims. Rent fins that are just the right amount of tightness and looseness. Use caution when swimming with fins to avoid accidentally damaging any coral. Check the fit of your fins; uncomfortable fins might ruin an otherwise enjoyable snorkeling trip.

Rash guard

Wearing a t-shirt or a rash guard will protect you from sunburn if you plan on snorkeling for the entire day. Wear sun protection, but only biodegradable sunscreens so as not to harm the reef.

Underwater Camera

If you get the hang of snorkeling and find that you enjoy it, you may also decide to try scuba diving. In either case, you’ll want to keep track of your experiences, and an underwater camera is a terrific tool for doing just that. You can produce outstanding photographs and films with a GoPro, which is consistently one of the best options for underwater cameras. Read here about how to take pictures while snorkeling.

Tips for Snorkelers: Dos and Don’ts

Don’t snorkel by yourself.

It’s best to learn the ropes with someone with more expertise. Although snorkeling is a relatively safe pastime, you are still in the open ocean, where you could be at risk from currents, jagged reefs, and marine life.

Avoid touching anything.

Don’t try to touch the fish, even if it looks completely harmless. The same is true of corals and sea anemones that bubble cutely and attract our attention. Your fingers and hands may seem dangerous to some marine species, especially if you approach them too closely. Please refrain from picking things up and touching anything you shouldn’t.

Stay calm.

Do yourself a favor if you ever find yourself in a panic situation: don’t grab the person next to you. Instead, float on your back, take a few deep breaths and signal for assistance. Grab a life jacket if you’re feeling a little uneasy; it’ll make the trip much more enjoyable for you.

Take the time to know your surroundings before venturing out.

Look around to see if anyone is swimming or snorkeling. Inquire about riptides and strong currents from the locals. Are there any potentially dangerous reefs or rocks that you could wash up to? Spend some time getting familiar with your surroundings.

These dos and don’ts should help you avoid looking clueless and flailing around in the open sea. Take it easy, be smart, and have a good time. The secret to successful snorkeling is complete relaxation and enjoyment.

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