Snorkeling is like a gateway into another world and you should never pass up an opportunity to catch a glimpse. As with most adventures, being prepared is the key to enjoying your first (or next) snorkeling experience.
You need to know how to swim in order to snorkel (just in case that wasn’t obvious we wanted to throw it out there). It also helps if you are physically fit so you can focus on the view instead of how much further you have to swim back to the boat. (Although, please do stay aware to your proximity to the boat – just don’t obsess about it.)
It is important to consider the strength of the swimmers in your snorkeling group, before heading out as well as the area you are snorkeling in. Some of the most amazing snorkeling spots require stronger swimmers and excursions should often be timed up with the rising tides. A bit of pre-planning can help you get to the right snorkeling area for your level of ability (and at the right time of day).
Besides a positive attitude and a willingness to dive into possibly cold water, you need the right equipment. Snorkeling equipment is broken up into two categories (1) necessities (2) important but not critical.
The necessities include a mask, snorkel and fins. You may think the fins are optional but they allow you to exert less effort when swimming, which makes your overall experience that much better. The important but not critical items include: water resistant sunscreen, water shoes, defogger (for your mask) and a mask strap cover.
Purchasing vs. Rentals
If you will be snorkeling throughout the duration of your vacation, the above items will be helpful. Otherwise, just go with the necessities. If your snorkeling adventure is booked through a company, you usually have the option of using their rental equipment or bringing your own.
If you decide to purchase the equipment yourself, you can find the necessities at just about any general or outdoor store. If costs are a concern (for example, if you are buying snorkeling gear for a family of five), consider purchasing snorkeling kits. These are typically broken down by age and include a mask, snorkel and fins at one, lower purchase price.
Tips for the Best Experience
Keep these in mind before your first adventure:
The snorkel needs to attach to your mask. When you purchase a snorkel it will come with a rubber or silicon mouthpiece that is used to attach the snorkel to the mask and hold it upright. If you try to snorkel without this piece you will likely get a mouth full of water. If this piece is misplaced you can purchase it separately from any retailer that sells snorkeling equipment. (A twist tie or rubber band also works well in a pinch).
You can clear your mask of water by looking up and breaking the lower seal of the mask. If your mask is leaking or fogging up, it is usually easier to go underwater and break the bottom seal (the part over your nose) rather than floating to the top and completely removing the mask from your head.
It is best to jump into cold water all at once. Yes, what your mother told you is true. When you need to get into water that is a bit chilly, your best approach is to jump right in. You don’t want to be the lame person who skipped out on an experience because they couldn’t get over a few seconds of discomfort. You won’t regret it – we promise.
Keep your hands to yourself. Snorkeling is a spectator sport. You should look and watch the fish and marine life, not touch it. There are several types of coral and marine life that can cause burns and irritation so it is best to keep your hands to yourself at all times. And, the idea is to be a witness to the beautiful ecosystem below the waterline, not disturb, disrupt or destroy it in any way.
Popular Snorkeling Destinations
There are great reefs to snorkel in most tropical locations throughout the world. If you are going out on your own, turn to locals for information about decent spots in your neighborhood. For example, you could ask the manager of a local dive shop, or the owner of your boat rental.
Hawaii: Wayside Park in Maui, Kealakekua Bay in Big Island and Makaha Beach Park in Oahu
Ecuador: The Galapagos Islands
Australia: Great Barrier Reef
About Renting a Boat for Your Snorkeling Excursion
When planning a snorkeling trip perhaps the most obvious necessity (even more so than knowing how to swim), is having a boat to get you to the snorkeling spot. Yes, there are snorkeling opportunities right from the coast, but the good stuff is farther out than you can swim and requires a boat for transportation.
Boatsetter, a Florida-based boat rental company, offer boat rentals in hundreds of locations in the United States and worldwide. From Boatsetter, you can easily search for and reserve a boat rental and even have the option of including a captain and equipment. Learn more about Boatsetter – your dream snorkeling trip is just a few clicks away..