Many of us are drawn to the sound, color and feel of water. It’s a primal thing. Snorkeling is a great way to enjoy being surrounded by water. It is extremely relaxing to float on top of a buoyant sea and watch the underwater show. It is even more enjoyable when you know what you’re doing. Wish I had known these snorkeling tips before our first snorkeling experience.
My first snorkeling experience was over a decade ago when my husband and I joined a group of friends on a trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Before we left town we went to a big box chain and purchased snorkel packages that included a mask, snorkel and fins. We left town thinking ‘How hard could it be’? Afterwards it was ‘I wish I’d known then what I know now’.
Here’s what I have learned since.
* Snorkel gear that fits well is essential to a positive snorkel experience.
* Practice clearing your mask and snorkel in shallow water, before you venture into deeper waters.
* Choose a beach with calm waters for your first snorkel adventure.
Choosing a mask. Hold the mask up to your face and inhale slightly. This will create suction and the mask should stay on your face without having to use the strap that goes around your head. If it doesn’t adhere to your face this means that air is able to get in and so will water. Try another mask using the same technique. Masks should have a good seal yet feel comfortable.
Wearing your mask. Make certain that the strap goes above your ears and around the widest part of your head. Adjust the strap so the fit is snug, but not too tight. Having the strap too tight can break the seal of the mask. Also, if the strap slips down it will break the seal and let in water.
Clearing your mask. To clear your mask, bend your head back a bit and place your hand on the top of the mask and exhale. Make sure to begin exhaling before you tip your head back to prevent water from entering your nose. The mask will reseal when you inhale.
Choosing a snorkel. There are many different varieties of snorkels. They range from a solid tube with a mouthpiece to snorkels that have a valve at the top of the tube that seals the tube and prevents water from entering. The dry snorkels are a bit more expensive, but they block water from entering the tube when a wave comes over or when diving.
Wearing your snorkel. The snorkel is attached to the mask. Adjust it so that it extends above the water surface when your face is in the water. Rest your teeth gently on the rubber tabs with your lips surrounding the mouthpiece. If you are tense and clamp down on the mouthpiece you may end up with a sore jaw.
Practice clearing the snorkel. Clearing the tube of the snorkel can only be accomplish when the snorkel is above the surface of the water. Exhale forcefully and the water will be blown out of the tube. Inhale slowly and carefully to make certain all the water is out of the tube. If not repeat the clearing and blow forcefully again
Swim fins come in full foot and strap varieties. The full foot fin covers the entire heel. Fins that have straps are generally worn with booties. Again, the fit should be snug but comfortable. Your foot will slip into the fin more easily when it is wet. Fins that don’t fit well could possibly come off in the water or may cause blisters..
Swim easily, keeping arms at your side and kick from the hip gliding over the surface of the water. It’s more relaxing, the sea life won’t get spooked as much and there’s less chance of your snorkel filling with water.
Because snorkeling is so relaxing and watching the underwater scenery is captivating, losing track of time is a real concern. It’s a good idea to lift your head and check to make certain that those you are snorkeling with are still close by and that you can still see a landmark where you entered the water.
Also be aware that there may be currents that could take you further out than you had intended. If you do get caught in a current, swim diagonally across the current not against it.
Whether you rent or purchase your snorkel gear, it is well worth the extra expense to be geared up with proper fitting snorkel equipment. With proper fitting snorkel gear and a little practice in safe waters, snorkeling just may become your new passion.
Share your snorkeling adventures with us!