If you’re trying to make the best out of your tropical vacation, snorkeling is a must. Even if you’re not 100 percent comfortable in the water, there are plenty of safety measures you can take to ensure you get the experience of a lifetime while staying safe.
Furthermore, learning how to snorkel is easy and laid back. Don’t expect to be putting in a hard workout just to enjoy the underwater scenery. If you’re still concerned, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Check out our five must-know tricks for snorkeling beginners.
1. Know Your Ability
One of the most important tips for first-time snorkelers is understanding their limits. It’s easy to overestimate your abilities if you’re comfortable, calm, and confident in a pool. However, swimming in open water is quite different from swimming in a pool or off the beach.
You will be susceptible to the pulling and pushing of the tide and other water currents. You also need to know and accept your fitness level. While most snorkeling tours are laid back and relatively non-taxing, most tours last 30-60 minutes or longer – can you stay out there that long without getting too tired?
Finally, consider your swimming competency. If you don’t completely trust yourself, use water flotation devices to keep yourself safe and relaxed so you can learn how to snorkel in a positive environment.
2. Get the Right Equipment for Your and Your Needs
Another important aspect of learning how to snorkel in the most comfortable and rewarding way is to ensure you’re using the proper equipment. While every snorkel company has items you can rent, they may not always be a good fit.
One of the most vital pieces of equipment to your overall enjoyment of a snorkeling tour is your snorkel mask. The whole point of snorkeling is to view what’s going on under the water, and you can’t do that very well if your mask isn’t working properly.
An improperly fitted mask can be painful or even let water in while you’re submerged. This will not only be irritating but can also lead to panic and/or breathing in water. You also need to make sure you’re using an anti-fogging agent in your mask to make sure your vision isn’t constantly blurred.
Fins and Fin Booties
Make sure your fins and booties are fitted correctly. Tightly fitting footwear can lead to pain and cramps in your feet. Loosely fitting footwear can lead to blisters and/or losing the items in the water.
Fins are sometimes an optional piece of gear. However, we highly recommend them for preserving energy and efficiently swimming against the current or tide.
Finally, you need to make sure you’re placing your own safety at the highest priority. If that means using a life jacket (just in case), accept it and move on. However, on some tours, wearing a life jacket is mandatory for all participants.
3. Snorkel With an Experienced Guide
As a beginner learning how to snorkel, it’s always wise to swim with a guide. If not an official guide from a snorkeling tour, make sure you’re always swimming with an experienced friend or companion. While accidents and disasters are few and far between on snorkeling trips, it never hurts to be well-prepared.
Relaxation and Calming Techniques
An experienced guide can teach you how to stay calm in the water and relax so you can further enjoy your adventure. It’s not uncommon for first-timers to put the mask and snorkel on and submerge, only to immediately jerk their head out of the water due to panic.
Swimming, Breathing, and Mask Clearing
An experienced snorkeler will also be able to help you get your swimming technique down to avoid over-exhaustion and optimize your efficiency with your fins. They’ll also help you learn the proper breathing technique as well as how to clear your mask, should it start to fill up with water.
4. Know the Conditions
Learning how to snorkel in the right environment means doing your research before you go out. As a beginner, you need to make sure the conditions are as ideal as possible for someone of your experience.
First and foremost, make sure you know the water conditions. Colder temperatures can make for an uncomfortable experience and limit the amount of time you can be out in the water.
You’ll also want to make sure you know the area of water you’re planning on snorkeling in. Is it calm or choppy water? Are the tide or currents strong?
Additionally, make sure you know what to expect in terms of the local sea life. While reef sharks are small and typically harmless, spotting one may send you into a panic if you’re not expecting it.
Lastly, make sure you pay adequate attention to the weather forecast before you set out on your snorkeling adventure. An overcast day will make the water colder and visibility poorer. High winds can make the otherwise calm waters choppy and no one wants to be out in the ocean in the middle of a thunderstorm.
5. Take Care of Your Body
When learning how to snorkel, don’t forget to account for your body’s well-being. Many people get so caught up in the excitement of snorkeling for the first time that they forget to take care of their basic needs.
Hydration and Nourishment
First, while snorkeling isn’t a grueling physical activity, it’s still important to make sure you’re properly hydrated and nourished for the day. Sitting in the sun all day snorkeling can quickly lead to becoming dehydrated if you haven’t been replenishing your fluids.
Next, avoid making the beginners mistake of letting your back and calves bake in the sun for hours while your front is submerged. You won’t feel it until hours later, but snorkeling often leads to severe sunburns for the inexperienced. Use plenty of bio-degradable sunscreen and/or be sure to cover up.
Don’t Touch Plants and Animals
Finally, as much as you might want to, you have to resist the urge to touch the underwater plants and animals. Not only are corals rough and jagged, but some of them are poisonous. Moreover, you’re there to observe and enjoy the view, not interfere with animals or stress them out by trying to touch them.
Looking for More Tips on How to Snorkel Safely?
If you’re looking for information on snorkeling, feel free to check out the rest of our articles. However, if you’re looking to get some hands-on experience on how to snorkel, contact us today to start planning your underwater adventure!