10 Cool Snorkeling Tips for Your Summer Holiday

Have you planned a summer holiday? Are you thinking of going snorkeling? Check out these 10 snorkeling tips to have an awesome time in the water.

Snorkeling is great way to explore the underwater world and what you can see right from the surface can be really amazing. To get the best out of your snorkeling experience I wrote down some tips for you to get started and things to consider when you go out on a snorkeling trip during your summer holiday.

1. Select a snorkel set that fits well!

To snorkel you need three things: Mask, snorkel and fins (or flippers). You can rent a set or buy your own. Personally I would suggest you to try out a few different sets before buying your own so you know what you prefer and is comfortable for you.

In short: Fins are the duck feet things you put on your foot and there is no difference between left and right. When snorkeling during a summer holiday most people use closed heal fins. For those fins it is important that the size matches the length of your foot, just like shoes. If they are too loose, you might loose a fin in the water. If they are too tight you might get blisters. Flexible fins (blades) can make it more easy to swim against the current. In case you are going to snorkel in an area with rocks instead of sandy beach or going SCUBA diving in the near future, consider investing a bit more money and buy open heel flexible fins with boots. To consider: This set will be heavier and take up more space in your suitcase.

To try a mask you simply put the mask on your face with your nose inside the flexible part. You do NOT put the mask strap on the back of your head but you inhale deeply through your nose and hold your breath. This way you create a vacuum inside the mask, if the mask fits. You can move your head down and look at the floor without the mask falling off. If the mask falls off the shape does not fit your face. Consider investing a bit more money and buy a mask with tempered glass instead of plastic.

A snorkel consist of a mouthpiece and a tube and the piece you breath through since your nose is in the mask. The length of the tube will determine how far you can put your head underwater before water gets in from the top. The longer the tube the heavier it is to breath (like a straw), but the harder it is for water to enter from the top since there is a larger part out of the water. If there is a splash guard on top of the tube it prevents water entering the snorkel from the top. Some snorkels also have a purge valve between the tube and the mouthpiece, another way to prevent inhaling water. Normally you buy a snorkel with a clip or a strap to attach it to your mask. Position the snorkel in a way that the tube is vertically in the water when you swim face-down on the surface.

2. Get information about the local area!

If you are going to a new place - get informed about the local underwater circumstances. Visit a nearby dive center, search information online and / or ask at the reception of your holiday accommodation specific information. Find out where to snorkel, what the bottom structure is like, if there is any current, where to enter and exit the water, what animals to look out for, etc.

Make sure you know who else is using the area. There can be special areas for specific type of recreation. There might be areas to surf or engined recreation (jet-ski, boat, wake-board) areas which can be dangerous if you bump into each other. If there is traffic on the surface consider bringing a surface marker buoy so people can see you from a distance. You can buy or borrow one from a dive center or make your own. An empty jerry can, bottle or plastic (milk/juice) jar attached to you with a little rope can do the trick.

3. Protect yourself from sunburn and stings!

As you will be snorkeling on the surface for a while you can get sun burnt easily, especially close to the equator. Use coral reef safe sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn without harming the reef!
Click here for more information about reef safe sunscreen. Cover your head with a cap or a buff. A buff is great if you have long hair as well, it prevents water getting in your mask (because of hairs in your mask) and hairs strapped around the rubber mask strap. This works for SCUBA diving as well.

Wearing a rash guard (UV protection) will protect your body from sunburn and stingers like jelly fish. You can buy UV T-shirts, long-sleeves, zipper jackets, pants with different lengths and full suits. Nowadays you can get them in all colors and prints as they are getting more and more popular. AXESEA has fashionable rash guards for sale, I just love those prints! Check out the super cool collection of AXESEA here!

4. Snorkel with a buddy and let people know where you go!

It is more fun to snorkel with somebody since you can share the experience and show each other the good stuff. Also it is good to watch out for each other and make sure everybody is safe.
As soon as you put your face in the water you might get distracted by all the beauty down below.

Make a snorkel plan. It should contain how long you go snorkeling and where. While snorkeling, keep looking up every now and then to locate your position from the shore (returning point) and to see boats and other water traffic coming. If there is a bit of current you can drift off without realizing it or even get lost. This is why it is also important to let somebody on the shore know where you are going to snorkel and for how long. Preferable you want somebody watching over you from the surface if the conditions are challenging for your experience level.

5. Prevent your mask from fogging!

If you try to breath through your nose instead of your mouth your mask will fog from the inside and you can not see clear anymore. There are many ways to prevent a mask from fogging, most people use a degreaser. My favorite one is baby shampoo. Rub a drop of baby shampoo with your fingers on the inside of the glass until it starts to squeak. Rinse it quickly et voila! Click here for more simple tips.
Once you are in the water and your mask keeps fogging you can use spit as a defogger.

If you have bought a new mask a hardly visible protective layer will be on both sides of the glass from the manufacturer, like with a new phone or tablet screen. If you do not remove the layer the mask will fog forever. You can remove it by scrubbing the glass with toothpaste or a non-scratch scouring powder (Cif). Burning the plastic layer with a lighter is also an option but be really careful with the rubber of your mask (called the skirt).

6. Enter and exit the water safely!

The easiest way to get in and out of the water is to put your mask (and attached snorkel) around your neck and wear it like a necklace. This way you can not loose your mask with the first wave, which easily happens if you put your mask on your forehead...

Avoid walking on land with fins on, you are not a duck. Find a sandy area to enter the water and walk carefully barefooted into the water, watch where you put your feet. When the water reaches your belly button you easily can put on your fins. Hold on to your buddy and help each-other. If the water is too deep to stand in you can put on your fins while sitting on the edge of the pier or boat. If you have to walk on land or on a boat with your fins on, always walk backwards.

7. Look, don't touch anything!

Always watch where you put your feet or fins in the water. Do not step, grab or rest on a coral block. Corals are living animals, not rocks. There are fish that look like rocks with venomous spines as well, like a stone fish and scorpion fish. You can easily hurt yourself, get infected and destroy the fragile underwater life.

The same goes for the fish. As cute as they might look - do not touch, feed or stroke animals underwater. They might get defensive (you are entering their home) and try to bite you but also because a lot of species have an anti-bacterial layer (mucus) to protect themselves from parasites. If you touch them you can damage that layer and they can get sick. Try to disturb the marine life as little as possible and do not chase fish with your camera.

Practice snorkeling in the pool, a sandy area or with a guide before you go out snorkeling over a coral reef and wear a life jacket if you can not control your buoyancy or swim properly.

8. Use a proper snorkel technique!

One of the differences between swimming and snorkeling is that you wear fins. The whole idea of snorkeling is that you use them as blades/fan to get more power. Stretch your legs while laying horizontally in the water and move your legs up and down. Do not bent your knees, try to avoid cycling (you will look like a drowning bug). The better you stretch your legs the smoother you will move in the water, streamline yourself. When you snorkel it is advised to put your arms in front of or around your head in case you bump into something. Always look where you are going.

If you have managed a proper snorkel technique you can try these two snorkel exercises:

9. Remove water from the snorkel without lifting your head out of the water!

Water will enter your snorkel at some point, especially with waves. When you snorkel for the first time you probably take the mouthpiece out of your mouth and turn the snorkel upside down every time there is water inside. Another, or lets say a more classy way to get the water out of the snorkel is by blowing forcefully into the tube. Of course you need some spare air for this one but do it as soon as you notice water going in your snorkel and use your tongue as a splash guard.
10 Cool Snorkeling Tips for Your Summer Holiday
If it works, try to swim underwater, surface and empty the tube without lifting your head out of the water. Now you can swim like a dolphin and go up and down with a proper snorkel technique.

10. Try to dive down and hold your breath!

After floating and swimming on the surface for a while you might want to dive down to get a closer look at something or take a picture from below looking up (those are the best!). The easiest way to do it is by bending your head down and dive down vertically in a 90 degrees angle. Basically you push your ass out of the water forcefully and stretch your arms as far as you can. Streamline yourself and use only your fins to go down. Once you go back up make sure your arms stick out of the water before your head - in case you bump into something or somebody.
Have a great holiday and enjoy your snorkeling adventure!
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Marlies Wolters
Founder of Dive O'Clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
Become a Dive Professional

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