Do you enjoy swimming in the ocean? Well, take it to the next level with snorkeling. All you need is a mask, snorkel, and maybe some fins, and you get to enjoy all the wonderful and intriguing aquatic life. Sure, it helps if you have a good level of physical fitness, but that’s not always necessary to enjoy a snorkeling trip.
Many people think they would rather learn how to scuba dive than snorkel. They assume that diving deeper and staying under for longer somehow offers you a better experience than snorkeling. The reality is that over 80% of marine life exists at depths down to 15-feet. Beyond 15-feet, the sunlight starts to fade, and there isn’t much going on.
So, with snorkeling, you get to see all the cool stuff without going through the hassle of spending time and a bunch of money on scuba training and gear. All you need is your basic kit, and you can jump right in the water to experience the best of the life aquatic.
This complete beginner’s guide on how to snorkel gives you everything you need to know to enjoy the sport the next time you’re at the ocean.
- Top Snorkeling Tips for Beginners
- Equipment Tips for Snorkeling
- Know Your Snorkeling Site
- Basic Snorkeling Tips and Etiquette
Top Snorkeling Tips for Beginners
Snorkeling is easy, and anyone can do it if they have decent swimming skills and some fitness. You don’t need to be a superstar fitness instructor to enjoy a snorkeling trip; you’ll get by with average levels of fitness just fine.
If you’re thinking about taking up the hobby, you need to know the basics, and we’ll unpack everything you need to know for a successful snorkeling trip right here.
Increase Your Fitness
While fitness isn’t always necessary for snorkeling, you’re going to have a way better time in the water if you’re not struggling to find your way down to the reef and back up to the surface every 10-seconds.
Fortunately, it’s easy to build your fitness if you take two or three weeks to make an effort of it before going on your trip.
Swimming is the best preparation you can do for snorkeling, and you can do it wearing your mask and snorkel to get used to breathing with the apparatus in the water.
After two weeks of swimming for 30-minutes a day, you’re going to increase your fitness dramatically, making your snorkeling experience that much better.
Improving Your Breath Hold
Snorkeling means that you don’t have the luxury of depending on scuba tanks to keep you under the surface. You’ll be making trips down to the reef and back to the surface. The longer you can hold your breath, the more time you spend on the reef, and the less time spent swimming back and forth, wearing down your energy levels.
Practicing your static breath hold isn’t hard, and you can make huge strides in a few weeks. To get the most out of snorkeling, you want to manage a two-minute breath hold while swimming. Sure, we all wish we could get to the legendary 5-minute mark, but that might be a lofty goal for your first trip.
Managing a two-minute static hold will help you get a lot more out of your snorkeling experience, guaranteed. Plenty of YouTube videos provide strategies for increasing your breath-hold, using techniques that don’t require you to be in the water.
Conserve Energy When Snorkeling
After increasing your fitness and your breath-hold, you’re going to have to learn how to conserve your energy during your snorkeling session. The less effort you expend, the longer you can stay in the water before you start feeling tired.
Learning the art of “drifting with the current” so you don’t waste your energy swimming against it is the best way to extend your bottom time and your total time in the water. When you’re down on the reef, take your time looking around, there’s a lot to see.
If you watch the best snorkelers in the world, they move the least. They rely on the current and the motion of the ocean to do the work for them. When you get down to the bottom, hand a few feet from the reef, and fold your ankles over each other to prevent yourself from finning, relying on the current to move you over the reef.
Fold your arms to your chest and just hang weightless in the water as you check out the activity on the reef. The only time you should be finning is when you’re going down to the reef or swimming up for air.
Conserve Air When Snorkeling
Conserving your breath relies on your ability to conserve your energy. The more activity your body takes on the reef, the more your muscles burn up your air, and the sooner you have to return to the surface. Take a deep breath and hold it at the reef.
You might be wondering how you’ll know if you have enough air in your lungs to get back to the surface. However, the reality is that you can hold your breath for longer than you think, and even if you feel you’re running out of oxygen, you’ll have more than enough to make the ten or so feet back to the surface.
Equipment Tips for Snorkeling
Snorkeling is great because there are very few equipment costs involved with the sport. Snorkeling sites are usually in tropical waters, and all you need is a bikini or a pair of boardshorts, a snorkel, a mask, and fins.
We recommend choosing a low-volume mask that has as little distance as possible between the lens and your eye, offering you the best 180-degree view in the water. Your mask will be the right size fit if you press it to your face, and it stays there without you needing to secure the head strap.
Your snorkel needs to have a comfortable silicone mouthpiece and a wave deflector at the top to prevent water from swells entering the snorkel. Some snorkels come with ball-and-cage stems that block the water from entering the snorkel.
You’ll also need a pair of snorkeling fins. These fins are shorter than scuba fins, and they have molded heels built into the fin to do away with the need for wearing booties like you would with scuba fins that rely on the heel strap.
Practice breathing with your mask and snorkel in the pool before your trip, and add them to your training routine. We recommend leaving the find out of your training routine as you’ll get faster fitness results using your arms and legs in the pool.
Practice floating on the surface and breathing through the snorkel. Some newbies to snorkeling find it takes them a few sessions to adjust to the claustrophobic feeling of breathing through the snorkel.
By practicing in the pool, you’re ready for the water, and you don’t have to waste your time learning to adjust to breathing through a snorkel when you’re on your trip. There are shallow reefs where you won’t have to dive, and you can hang out on the surface breathing as you look down at the reef.
If you have experience with this, then it should be an easy transition from the pool to the ocean.
- Full mask fin snorkel set: zeeporte long snorkel set with adjustable fins, two window tempered glass lens mask, dry top silicone snorkel, travel gear bag, it's the ultimate travel companion and is suitable for snorkeling, swimming, body surfing, boogie boards and much more.
- Panoramic view snorkel dive mask: made of a four-window design for a panoramic view with tempered glass lens and hypoallergenic silicone skirt, zeeporte snorkel mask can withstand underwater pressure while diving and snorkeling, ultimate comfort. the diving mask's skirt is designed with soft and flexible silicone and the food-grade silicone mouthpiece is safe creates a watertight seal with the any driver's face and attached to your mouth perfectly without any peculiar smell.
- Unobstructed breathing dry top snorkel: a high-quality snorkel with a dry-top valve that seals the breathing tube when submerged. dry top snorkel is designed to keep water from entering the breathing tube, ergonomic silicone mouthpiece is comfortable and durable. Lower purge valve allows water to be quickly expelled, so you can enjoy easy and unobstructed breathing while diving underwater.
- Flexible adjustable trek fins: longer, lightweight and the responsive blade assure a kick that is fluid, effortless yet at the same time quite powerful. trek fins with open-heel style and adjustable strap, the foot pocket and the strap are made of long-lasting rubber that ensures a comfortable fit. The zeeporte blade delivers excellent thrust with a modest kicking effort, perfect for your snorkeling or diving adventure.
- All-in-one packing gear bag: 3 essential items in one quick-dry mesh bag. re-usable zip-up bag with a shoulder strap, perfect for travel and recreational use. amazing low package for all four items and good for traveling.
Clearing Your Snorkel
After you’re comfortable breathing in the pool, it’s time to practice clearing your snorkel. Unless you’re using one of the ball and cage snorkels mentioned earlier, you’re going to have to learn how to master clearing it before you get in the water.
There’s nothing worse than getting to the surface and sucking down saltwater because you didn’t clear the snorkel properly. If this happens to you, you’re likely going to choke and have to rip the mouthpiece out to cough and get your breath under control.
Dive under the surface in the pool, and the snorkel will immediately fill with water. When you return to the surface, use your remaining breath to forcefully purge the water from the snorkel while keeping your face in the water.
You might find that there is some water left in the snorkel after the initial purge. The snorkel should have a purge valve in the mouthpiece, allowing you to continue to breathe and forcefully purge the remaining water in the snorkel.
Defogging Your Mask
There’s nothing more annoying than diving down to the reef to find that your mask is starting to fog. It’s a good idea to prevent this from happening by preparing your mask beforehand. If you have a brand new mask, take a bit of toothpaste on your finger, and rub it into the inside lens of the mask.
This action removes the layer on the mask left by the manufacturing process that fogs the lenses. Rinse out the toothpaste and spit in the mask. Rub your saliva all over the lens, and then rinse it out before securing the mask to your head.
There are specialist defogging solutions you can use instead of saliva, but we think you can save a bunch of money just using saliva, and it works just as well as the defogging products.
Know Your Snorkeling Site
When you’re fit, trained, and familiar with your equipment, you’re ready for your snorkeling trip.
When you arrive at a snorkeling site, speak to the locals and find out the best spots to swim and the hazards involved with the location. The locals can tell you what wildlife to expect under the water and where to dive.
Never enter a dive site without speaking to someone first, you have no idea if you’re swimming in safe waters, and for all you know, you could be snorkeling in a tiger shark breeding ground. We’re sure we don’t have to tell you how that could ruin your trip.
There are plenty of snorkeling companies offering trips to reefs offshore at your location. If that’s the case, the instructor or divemaster will brief you on the dive site before you get in the water, and you can use the chance to ask any questions in the presence of a professional.
Basic Snorkeling Tips and Etiquette
Snorkeling is a lot of fun, but you also need to understand the risk involved with the activity. After all, you’re swimming at depth at many sites, and there is always the chance that things could go wrong. You need to understand how to behave in the water, regardless of whether there is an emergency or not.
Snorkelers adhere to an unwritten set of rules that define what you can and can’t do underwater and on the surface.
Respect the Reef
When you’re viewing the reef, it might look like a bunch of rock, but the reality is that it consists of trillions of micro-organisms, making the reef a living animal. So, don’t touch the reef. That’s rule number one, regardless of whether you’re snorkeling or scuba diving.
Not only does touching the reef damage the coral, but it could also put you at risk. Scorpionfish are masters of camouflage, and you might not see them. If you reach out for the reef and accidentally touch the spines of a scorpionfish or stonefish, you’re in for big trouble, and you might drown as the pain causes a shockwave through your nervous system.
Don’t wear gloves because it means that you intend to touch the reef, and the divemaster will reprimand you for using them. Don’t touch the reef!
Respect Marine Life
It might be tempting to reach out and touch that whale shark as you swim alongside it. However, keep your hands to yourself when you encounter marine life on and around the reef.
Out skin has trillions of microbiomes and bacteria on it, and you’ll transfer it to the animal’s skin if you touch them.
As a result, the animal might develop skin problems as they don’t have the natural defense to handle the bacteria you transfer to them.
Use Reef-Safe Sunblock
Reefs are declining across the globe due to the acidification of the water due to rising temperatures. Along with this issue, we have the problem of sunblock adding to the misery.
Traditional sunscreen contains ingredients that damage reefs. Make sure you choose a reef-friendly sunscreen for your snorkeling trip.
- REVOLUTIONARY SUN CREAM :: Moisturizing reef safe sunscreen SPF 50, waterproof for up to 80 minutes whether in the sand, sun, sea or surf. Strong broad spectrum mineral based sun protection from UVA / UVB rays to help protect you from sun burn and DNA damage. PA+++
- CORAL REEF SAFETY :: Reef Repair sun cream is a (non nano) Zinc Oxide based reef safe sunscreen that is 100% Oxybenzone free, Octinoxate free & completely chemical free. Safe for marine and aquatic life including our delicate coral reefs, guaranteed to protect!
- INGREDIENT SAFETY :: Reef Repair sunscreens are 100% Paraben free, Silicone free & Titanium Dioxide free, providing proven sun & skin safety for you and your family. Our A+ grade Zinc Oxide mineral sunblock gives you the strongest UV protection available. Daily application is now fun and easy.
- ULTRA CLEAR :: Non Sticky, non oily water based & biodegradable mineral sunscreen. Applies transparently with almost no rubbing and spreads evenly on your skin. No white cast or ghosting effect like other natural physical sunblocks. Does not leave sticky or greasy feeling on your skin and will not cause excessive sweating.
- OTHER BENEFITS :: Our 100% natural reef safe sunscreen is a revolutionary layer of sun protection and moisturisation for new, sensitive or damaged skin. All natural, organic and reef safe formula with bonus ingredients like red raspberry seed and coconut oil for extra sun care protection.
Don’t Touch or Take
Like we said, keep your hands to yourself, and don’t take anything with you unless it’s trash, plastic or foreign objects like fishing tackle that snagged on the reef.
Leave all the coral and shells where you saw them. Many dive masters will lash out at you if they see you picking up shells.
It might seem harmless to you, but you’re disturbing the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem – respect the reef and leave it alone.