Snorkeling Tips 101 with Down to Scuba
Photo Shifaaz Shamoon / Unsplash

Snorkeling is a fun and inexpensive way to check out the underwater world. On paper, snorkeling sounds easy, and it can be! However, many people do have bad experiences with snorkeling and this can be off-putting. So let’s dive in, and check out some snorkeling tips to ensure you have an enjoyable and safe experience that will lead to many more water adventures!

Bad snorkeling experiences usually stem from inexperience and not being prepared. Many snorkeling tour operations imply that all you need is some equipment and water to have a fun snorkeling experience. This is wrong. My first snorkeling experience was a disaster. I got too close to the coral and accidentally bumped into it, water went into my snorkel and I choked on seawater, and I got well and truly sunburnt! Here are some snorkeling tips that I wish I had known before I dove into the water!

Read More: What To Wear Snorkeling

Snorkeling Tips For First Timers

1. Choose Your Snorkeling Equipment Carefully

If you trying snorkeling on your holiday for the first time, then you probably won’t have your own equipment. This means you will need to rent your mask, snorkel, and fins. Many rental places have cheap and disposable equipment that is rented out and used daily. The mask will probably be a generic size, and the snorkel will be quite basic. This is where you need to choose your equipment carefully and have it fitted properly.

If you have a mask that does not fit properly, then you will get water leaking into the mask which can be very annoying and quite traumatic. If the mask is too tight on your head then you will get a headache. Ask a professional to fit your mask, or follow our tips here on how to fit a mask.

Take a look at the snorkel too, and make sure there is no built-up black mold and that the mouthpiece has not been chewed off by the previous snorkeler. Mold will occur when the equipment was not cleaned or dried properly. A chewed-up mouthpiece will also mean that the snorkel will not sit in your mouth properly. It also means it’s a bit gross!

If the difference between a good snorkel set is a few bucks, then we recommend spending a bit more to ensure you can actually use the equipment!

2. Choose Your Location for Snorkeling

First time snorkeling, or first time snorkeling in this location? Always check with a local for the best snorkeling spots and what the conditions may be like. Be aware of currents, waves, and low visibility. These can really make or break a snorkeling experience.

Currents can push you far out to sea, which can be scary and lead to a dangerous situation. Waves can cause water to continuously enter your snorkel and make it difficult to breathe. Low visibility can make you uncomfortable and stressed.

It is always a good idea to be aware of the location’s conditions and if in doubt of what lies beneath the waves, then change locations or wait for a better day!

3. Snorkel with a Buddy

It doesn’t matter how confident you are with water, swimming, or snorkeling. The most important snorkeling tip is that you should always have a buddy with you.

Firstly, it is always more fun to snorkel with someone else. You can find more underwater critters with twice the set of eyes and reflect on the fun day of snorkeling at the end of the day together.

More importantly, snorkeling with a buddy is safer. If you suddenly panic from the water conditions or have a cramp in your leg that makes it difficult to swim, or if you are suddenly struck by some health condition, then a buddy can help you or at least, raise the alarm.

Drowning is the number one risk of snorkeling and other water-related activities, and is a very real risk of snorkeling.

Read More: Snorkeling Risks and How to Avoid Them

4. Be Wary of the Sun while Snorkeling

Sunburn, heat exhaustion, and the potentially fatal, sunstroke, are real risks of snorkeling and our tip to avoid this is to be prepared. Hydrate often with water, and not alcohol, coffee, or tea which are mild diuretics that can cause you to urinate and expel water more often.

Take frequent breaks if you do plan on going for a whole day of snorkeling. Hydrate and revive in the shade to avoid heat exhaustion.

Obviously, it’s nice to work on your tan while on holidays, but be aware that while snorkeling, the water will reflect the sun’s rays and cause you to burn quicker. Also, you don’t just want an uneven back tan!

The best way to cover up from harmful UV sun rays is to wear a rashguard that will act as a barrier between the UV rays and your skin. Find a rashguard that has an optimal UV rating and be aware that you can still burn through a standard T-shirt.

Read More: Do Rash Guards Keep You Warm?

4. Know Your Limitations when Snorkeling

A big snorkeling tip is knowing your limitations and respecting the water! If you are not comfortable with swimming, then this will not change when you strap on a mask and a snorkel! Snorkeling is definitely much easier than swimming thanks to the ability to breathe while your face is in the water. The fins on your feet also help with swimming as they are powerful and require less energy than swimming without. However, this does not mean that you will suddenly become Michael Phelps in the water!

Know your limitations and consider them before stepping into the water. If need be, use a floatation device such as a life jacket or vest, a life-ring, or even, a pool noodle! These things are useful in case you get tired and overexert yourself in the water as they allow you to float with no energy required.

Emma was terrified of the ocean but dove into her Open Water 7 years ago and hasn't looked back since! She worked as an underwater videographer for several years and is now a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. She currently runs a dive shop on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand and is the founder of Down To Scuba.