How To

A Beginner’s Guide to Snorkeling

The group was snorkeling when their boat drifted away because of a broken or poorly-secured anchor.

If SCUBA diving seems too intense, learning the foundation of snorkeling is a perfect starting point that can provide recreational entertainment while you’re on vacation. If more serious water sports are your desired activities, beginning with snorkeling can put you well on your way to more challenging sports like deep-sea diving. While this is an extremely easy sport to learn, understanding the equipment and safety precautions beforehand will help you immensely if you get into a problematic situation while in the water.

Another factor that determines the difficulty of the sport is the environment in which you’re snorkeling. Harsher waters with quick drop-offs or nearby sea cliffs pose dangers if you’re not the best swimmer. Understanding your own skill level is imperative and don’t be afraid to start in milder waters and work your way up. First, finding the right gear is essential. Making a trip to a professional dive shop to get advice is your best option. Your mask, fins, and snorkel should all be the right size and feel comfortable.

If you’re planning to snorkel somewhere with colder waters, make sure to wear a wet suit to protect your skin. Before swimming out to deep waters to explore, stay closer to shore and practice breathing. This will take some getting used to, so it’s best to try it out in a body of water where you can have more control. Learning how to clear your snorkel should be done at this time. Allow a small amount of water to get into the snorkel, then blow air out forcefully to remove the water. Once you are confident that you can remove water from your snorkel, you can move on to the next step.

Once you start making your way out to deeper waters, you will be getting the hang of how to move. Depending on the size of your fins, you will start to realize how much propelling is done by them, and how much movement you will have to create through the strength of your arms. Although you will be fitted for a mask that works with the shape of your face, there will most likely be some water that finds its way into the goggles. Occasionally you will have to break the surface and empty the water from your mask.

One of the biggest reasons people avoid snorkeling is because of the fear of seeing certain marine life, namely sharks. While this is possible, it is extremely uncommon unless you’re snorkeling in an area known for the animals, such as Utila, Honduras where whale sharks are the main attraction. One of the real dangers to watch out for is scraping your body against corals, which can easily cut your skin. As long as you’re aware of the safety measures that go into snorkeling, this is an easy sport to get involved in.

Image from Piper on the Wikimedia Commons

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