Snorkeling is a fun and relaxing activity that allows you to observe the underwater marine life. But if you have never been snorkeling before, it can be a bit overwhelming to know what to bring on a snorkeling excursion, and what to wear snorkeling. Sunburn, itchy sealice, sharp rocks, and more can certainly ruin your day.

So, here is our guide to ensure you are prepared and ready for any snorkeling adventure!

What to Wear Snorkeling

Here is a checklist of what to bring and what do you wear snorkeling:

Mask & Snorkel

The mask allows you to see underwater and the snorkel allows you to breathe underwater without lifting your head. When you use a mask for the first time, be sure to follow some tips to stop it from fogging up!

Cressi Panoramic Wide View Mask & Dry Snorkel Kit

Fins (not flippers!)

Fins, worn on your feet, help you swim more efficiently and for longer without getting tired. They can be bulky so opt for some lightweight and short, flexible fins for traveling.

CAPAS Snorkel Fins, Swim Fins Travel Size 

Buoyancy Device

A buoyancy device such as a life vest or life jacket, or life-ring is especially recommended for inexperienced snorkelers or swimmers. It can also be useful for experienced snorkelers as it allows you to rest on the floating device if you plan on snorkeling all day!

Wildhorn Inflatable Snorkel Vest

Exposure Protection

Exposure protection protects your skin from the elements, such as the UV sunrays, sea-lice, or the cold temperatures. This can be anything from a rashguard in warm water, a wetsuit in moderate temperatures, or even a drysuit in cold water.

Read More: Wetsuit Temperature Guide – What to Wear in Different Temperatures?

Kanu Surf Men’s Long-Sleeve UPF 50+ Rash Guard

Hevto Wetsuits Men and Women 3mm Neoprene

Waterproof SD Combat 7mm Semi-Dry Suit

Bandana or Hat

A bandana or hat will stop your head from getting sunburnt. This is very important for people with thinner hair or no hair. A bandana can also stop your mask strap from pulling on your hair every time you put on or take off your mask!

Bandana 3-Pack – Made in USA For 70 Years – Sold by Vets – 100% Cotton –Sewn Edges

Beach Shoes, Booties, or Beach Socks

Protecting your feet from the hot sand, rough rocks, or blisters from your fins is important. If you are snorkeling from a rocky shore then this will protect your feet before and after snorkeling too.

Water Socks Neoprene Socks Beach Booties Shoes 3mm

What to Wear Snorkeling in Hawaii

Snorkeling in Hawaii is amazing with its vast marine life and water temperatures between an average 77°F (25°C) in the wintertime to 82°F (28°C) in the summertime. This means wearing just a swimsuit, a rashguard or a thin wetsuit is sufficient when deciding what to wear snorkeling in Hawaii.

You will need to be aware of the strong sunshine in Hawaii, so wearing exposure protection is recommended. If you prefer to hit the water in just a swimsuit, then you should apply a biodegradable sunscreen on your skin an hour before you get into the water to ensure you protect your skin and the coral!

Read More: The Best Reef-Safe Sunscreen to protect your skin AND the ocean!

Safety when Snorkeling

Unfortunately, there have been some accounts of drowning while snorkeling in Hawaii. A calm day for snorkeling can quickly turn into strong currents, high surf, high winds, and heavy shore break which can be dangerous. For this reason, you should always carry or use a buoyancy device such as a life vest or a float that can aid you in an emergency.

Do you Have to Wear a Life Jacket when Snorkeling?

As mentioned previously, there are cases of drowning while snorkeling. For this reason, many places around the world will encourage the use of wearing a life jacket. Unfortunately, this is rarely enforced so it is your own responsibility to use a life jacket is needed.

We always recommend close supervision of children and adults who are not strong swimmers. They should wear a lift jacket when snorkeling and know how to maneuver and move around in the jacket.

A lift jacket can be the difference between a near-drowning and a drowning, while snorkeling.

Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest

O’Brien Women’s Impulse Neo Life Vest

What Colors Not to Wear Snorkeling

Shark attacks are very rare while snorkeling but can happen in certain areas. They are mostly attracted to contrasting colors and patterns, so this may be something to avoid when snorkeling with sharks. However, bright colors and patterns will help you be seen in the event of an emergency which can also be useful.

You may want to avoid wearing shiny jewellery or watches while snorkeling. Barracudas have been known to snap at something shiny as they think it may be a small and tasty fish!

Snorkeling Dress Code

Snorkeling is often a popular holiday activity while in a tropical country. However, this means they may have a different culture with different rules. It is always recommended to check with local guidelines or a guide on whether there is a snorkeling dress code. If you are in a more modest country, then you may need to consider covering up particular areas of your body, even at the beach.

If is also unadvisable to go straight from snorkeling to hitting the shops in your bikini or boardshorts. Be respectful of the local country and follow their lead on whether there is a dress code.

Best Swimsuit for Snorkeling

The best swimsuit for snorkeling is one that is comfortable, holds everything in place, and won’t give you a bad tan-line!

Comfortable Swimsuits

If you are layering your swimsuit with a rashguard or wetsuit, then avoid a swimsuit with any hard clips or knots that may push into your skin leaving a painful mark.

Read More: What Do Women Wear Under Wetsuits?

No Slipping Out

You will also want a swimsuit that that holds all of your bits in the right place. From experience, you do not want flimsy swim bottoms or loose boardshorts, especially when frog-kicking in front of other people!

Avoid Bad Tan-Lines

If snorkeling with just a bikini, then avoid tops with intricate straps or designs. This will give you quite the tan-line after a day of snorkeling!

Read More: What to Wear Under a Rash Guard?

Emma was initially terrified of the deep ocean but dived into scuba diving in 2013, 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.