How To Snorkel

How To Snorkel
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Learn how to snorkel. Perfect for the first time snorkeler.

• General: DIY / How-To • General: Educational • General: Guide • General: Kid Friendly

Snorkeling is a lot of fun. Below the surface of the water exists another land, filled with sea creatures, beautiful plant life, and other treasures that have found their way down there. You can see everything from a Honu - The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle to a Humuhumu-nukunuku-apua'a - Reef Triggerfish and so much more.

When you first decide to snorkel, the idea of breathing through a plastic tube may seem bizarre to you. This is soon something you'll get used to though, and after time, will find it becomes second nature.

If you're serious about snorkeling, here are some tips to help your first time go, shall we say, swimmingly.

Don't Cheap Out On Equipment

Snorkeling can be a once in a lifetime experience, or it can be something you'll want to forget in a hurry. One of the things that goes a long way to deciding which of those two it will be is the equipment you wear. While you don't have to opt for the most expensive bits of kit you can find, don't go for the cheapest either.

With cheap equipment you risk a foggy eye mask, a leaky mask, and even a mouthful of water. Not fun. Depending on how much snorkeling you plan to do you're probably asking if you should rent gear or Should I Bring My Own Snorkel Gear To Hawaii?

Practice First

If you've never snorkeled before then chances are you haven't breathed through a plastic tube before, making snorkeling a novel experience for you. Rather than go straight out into the deep end, practice in shallow waters first. Practice breathing, and practice staying calm while underwater. A swimming pool is a great place for beginners to start.

This way, you'll also be able to test your equipment too. Does your mask leak? Does water get into your snorkel? If so they may be broken, or you may be doing something wrong.

Learn the Basic Snorkeling Skills

Believe it or not, there's actually an art to sea diving, something you'll need to learn if you're wondering how to snorkel. Don't worry, even children take part in this activity, so it's not too difficult to learn, but you'll want to have an idea of what your new hobby entails before taking part. Be sure to read Hawaii Dangers - Read Before You Go before heading out as well as put on plenty of sunscreen to Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer. Your backside will be a magnet for the suns harmful rays.

The keys to a great snorkeling session are relaxation and understanding the conditions of the sea. You'll want to breathe slowly and reduce the amount of effort you exert (so you don't burn out). You'll also want to be able to understand the sea's flow so you stay in control at all times. An instructor can teach you about both of these things if needed. If you're uneasy grab a "noodle" or other type of flotation device that can make it easier and safer for you.

Top tip: If you're snorkeling with fins (flippers) get in the water before putting your flippers on. Nothing says "I'm a first time snorkeler" more than putting your fins on 20 feet up on the beach and trying to walk to the water with them on.

Finally, Pick Your First Location with Care

Even if you have the best equipment and all the knowledge of snorkeling one could have, you won't enjoy your session as much as you could have if you haven't picked the right location. For your first time, you'll want to take extra care about where you snorkel, just to be on the safe side.

Snorkel from the beach, rather than a boat, as this way it's easier to get back on land should your experience stop being fun. Try to pick a calm spot that's protected from the open ocean, but one that's interesting also. Not sure where to start? See our list of the Best Snorkeling Beaches In Hawaii.

Mornings can be a great time to snorkel as the ocean is often calmer in the morning and the sun isn't as harsh on your skin. Always check ocean conditions before you go snorkeling and never snorkel alone. Always make sure anyone you are snorkeling with is a strong swimmer. If you aren't a strong swimmer consider snorkeling in a life vest, tube, or noodle.