"Getting a peak into the beauty and majesty of the underwater world, snorkeling teaches you to enjoy life beneath the sea and become one with it."
The ocean is full of many secrets that it has hidden well for a long time. While mankind was exploring almost every stitch of land, documenting it, and creating maps, the underworld world remained largely untouched.
If you have ever seen any pictures taken underwater, you'll easily understand the appeal of snorkeling. The underwater world is beautiful, vibrant, and full of color. And snorkeling gives you a glimpse into this beautiful ecosystem.
Underwater creatures can sometimes appear more heavenly than earthly thanks to their luminous bodies and how they blend with the water. The plants and overall scenery can look like something straight out of a fantasy book.
If you are looking to get into snorkeling, this article will guide you on what the activity is, what to expect, and the essential gear needed. Here we go.
What Is Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is an activity that involves swimming along the surface of the water while equipped with a mask, snorkel, and sometimes swim fins. The function of the mask is to provide the swimmer with a clear vision of the underwater world. Some masks even have panoramic views for a more enjoyable snorkeling session.
The snorkel is a breathing apparatus that allows the swimmer to breathe with their faces submerged. Swim fins make it easier to move and navigate below the water although some people may forgo them.
One of the best things about snorkeling is that it requires no formal or specialized training. You only need to know how to swim and be comfortable in the water. Even people that can’t swim or are not comfortable in the water can still go snorkeling as long as they are wearing life jackets and using flotation devices. For safety purposes, it’s recommended such people go snorkeling as part of a group.
How Does Snorkeling Work?
If you’ve been to the beach before, chances are you’ve Seen people snorkeling before. Snorkeling doesn’t require expensive gear, unlike scuba diving. You’ll also need specialized training for scuba diving.
With a mask, snorkel, and the determination to brave the water if you aren’t a swimmer or comfortable in the water, you are ready to go snorkeling. A snorkel mask covers your eyes and nose. Without a mask, you can’t take in the sights of the underwater world as water will enter your eyes and nose.
The snorkel is a flexible tube that’s used for breathing while submerged. It comes with a snorkel that goes towards your mouth with your lips forming a perfect seal with the tube. You breathe through your mouth when snorkeling and this may require a bit of adjustment by some people.
How To Breathe While Snorkeling?
While snorkeling is fun and easy, the first time can be miserable and scary. This is because it takes a bit of time to get used to using a snorkel. So, it’s important you practice in shallow waters or in a pool before snorkeling in deep waters.
One of the most important things to do before snorkeling is to get a well-fitted mask. Your mask should ideally form a snug fit with your head. This is to ensure the mask forms a perfect seal with your face and prevent water from getting into your mask.
The next step is to ensure your snorkel is securely attached to your mask. Snorkel masks generally have an attachment that secures the snorkel to the mask. This comes in handy when the snorkel accidentally falls out or when you remove it out of your mouth.
You’ll find silicone or rubber clips towards the end of snorkels. These clips are called snorkel keepers and are means of attachment to the mask strap.
When you are ready to get into the water, put the mask on and then put the snorkel mouthpiece in your mouth. Bite down gently on the mouthpiece and form a watertight seal around it. Be careful not to bite the mouthpiece too hard to prevent jaw fatigue.
Place your face slowly into the water. The top of the snorkel must be kept above the water for the snorkeler to breathe in and out. Breathe slowly and when you feel comfortable, swim slowly around while taking deep breaths.
Practice in a Pool or at a Calm Shallow Beach
It may take a while to get comfortable using a snorkel and breathing with your face underwater. So, you need to practice and familiarize yourself with using a snorkel before going snorkeling properly.
The best place to practice is in a pool or a calm shallow beach. The waters in these areas are calm and shallow allowing you to get comfortable with using a snorkel at your pace.
How To Prepare For Snorkeling?
There are some things you need to put in order before setting out for your first snorkeling expedition. And here they are:
Practice, Practice, Practice
I already mentioned you don’t need formal or specialized snorkeling training. But you’ll still need an experienced snorkeler to show you the ropes. If you are at a beach for relaxation or vacation, you’ll easily find where you can rent snorkeling gear and find someone to put you through the basics.
Practice until you are comfortable using a snorkel before setting out for your maiden snorkeling expedition.
Get The Right Gear
You have to decide whether you want to buy your own snorkeling gear or rent some out of the day. If you’ll be snorkeling frequently, you might decide to buy your own gear. Snorkeling gear are generally inexpensive.
If you will only go snorkeling once in a while, you may decide to rent some gear when you need, especially if you are visiting the beach or somewhere snorkeling gear rentals are easily available.
Choose A Location
The location where you go snorkeling should match your level of experience and the kind of sight you want to see. If you are snorkeling for the first time, you should ideally go for calm waters especially if you are snorkeling alone. If you are snorkeling as part of a group, you can go for choppy waters since you can count on getting help if you need it.
Some areas are renowned for specific sea life sightings or plant that make for a fantastic view. If you are snorkeling in such areas, it’s important you acknowledge the fact that the day you go may not be the best time for sightings. But chances are you’ll still see something amazing.
Snorkeling Essential Gear
Snorkeling is not a gear intensive activity. With just a few items, you can ready to take in the beauty of the underwater world. Below are the most essential gear you need for your snorkeling expeditions:
You can’t enjoy the sights underwater if there’s no way to keep water out of your eyes. And this is what a snorkeling mask does. With a mask on, you can see the wonderful scenery hiding below the surface of the water.
A breathing apparatus that helps you breathe underwater and stay there long enough to take in the sights. There are different types of snorkels and you can check out my guide on snorkels. Beginners should go for dry snorkels as they are designed to keep water out and this means the snorkeler will have to clear out of it less frequently.
Not absolutely necessary, but a pair of snorkeling fins can enhance your experience and help you navigate in the currents or move faster. Just pay attention not to hit corals, wildlife, or other snorkelers with your fins!
7 Great Snorkeling Spots Around The World
Below are some of the best places to go snorkeling. These locations are renowned for their incredible beauty. Here they are:
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef ecosystem in the world. There are about 2,900 individual reefs and corals in the Great Reef Barrier. These reefs and coral cays span over 1,400 miles.
When you snorkel here, you are treated to stunning scenery made up of colorful fish and coral. It’s a sight straight out of a fantasy book.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Another massive barrier reef that gives you the opportunity to swim and see different kinds of brightly colored fish, eel, and rays. The water here has a beautiful turquoise color and there are several colorful corals beneath the surface.
The Big Island, Hawaii
If you are familiar with Hawaii, you’ll know the American State has several beautiful beaches and is a hub for all kinds of water sports. Snorkeling is a popular activity here due to the beauty of the underwater world.
From multicolor fish to technicolor coral and turtles, dolphins, and other sea life, there’s a lot of fun to be had snorkeling in Hawaii.
Palawan, The Philippines
The Philippines doesn’t usually come to the mind of most people when considering snorkeling locations. However, the archipelago of the country has some 7,000 islands with the water surrounding them full of breathtaking wildlife. This presents several opportunities for snorkeling enthusiasts to see fantastic underwater scenery and have fun.
The Maldives has become a popular tourist destination over the years. There are several interesting things to do there including relaxing and having fun at the several idyllic beaches.
Snorkeling is a popular activity here thanks to the pristine waters and flourishing marine life. There are over 700 species of fish in the water and other interesting marine life such as octopus.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Komodo Island is famous for its Komodo dragons. There are over 2,500 Komodo dragons on the island alongside several interesting flora and fauna.
There are several beaches on the island and every one of them offers great opportunities for snorkeling. The Pink Beach on the island is renowned for its beautiful underwater scenery. Marine life here include rays, hawksbill turtles, corals, and several fish species.
Ilha Grande, Brazil
In Western part of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the Ilha Grande, one of the best destinations for snorkeling in the world. The turquoise colored water of the water in the beaches here are filled with several aquatic life, underwater coves, and even shipwrecks.
Safety Precautions For Snorkeling
The whole idea of snorkeling is to have a nice time underwater. And below are safety precautions to observe when exploring the underwater world:
Never Snorkel Alone
This is especially important for beginners. Having a snorkeling partner to turn to in case anything goes wrong is very important. Even experienced snorkelers should snorkel with another person as often as possible. Having a fellow snorkeling enthusiast can only enrich the experience and make things more fun. Of course, the snorkeling buddy will come in handy in case of emergencies.
Use Safety Equipment
Flotation devices and inflatable vests are highly recommended for people that can’t swim or aren’t comfortable enough in the world.
Look But Don’t Touch
Remember you are a visitor in the underwater kingdom. Take in the sights, revel in them, but don’t touch anything. Also, don’t attempt to take anything home.
Check Weather Conditions
Ideally, the best time to go snorkeling is when waters are calm and smooth. You can also snorkel in choppy water conditions although you’ll need to be more experienced.
Regardless of whether you are snorkeling in calm or rough waters, check weather forecast to see if weather conditions are favorable. Storms, heavy rains, and high tides pose dangers to the snorkeler.
If you notice weather conditions taking a turn for the worse when snorkeling, turn back. You can always go snorkeling another day.
Secure Your Belongings
Whether you are snorkeling from the beach or a boat, secure your personal belongings before getting into the water. Depending on where you intend to go snorkeling, you may be allowed to keep your belongings in the dive shop or on a boat if you are snorkeling from a boat.