You must have come across those documentaries where they explore the world found beneath the water surface. Did you wish you were there? One great way to go one step further and explore the wonders of the ocean on your own is snorkeling. All you need is the ultimate guide to snorkeling.
Exploring and diving in shallow waters does not need you to be a professional. This is an activity that people of all ages and all walks of life can enjoy because of its relative safety. In this ultimate guide to snorkeling, I’m going to tell you all you need to know so as to go on that adventure you want.
How to Get Started
Although snorkeling may be an exciting adventure for most people, if you want to try it out for the first time, there are some things you should consider before you start. These are the first things in any list of things to do in the ultimate guide to snorkeling
1. Make sure snorkeling is permitted
I am sure that the last thing you want is to get into trouble from your adventure. There are lots of protected areas by the government in the oceans and seas around the world where snorkeling is prohibited. If you don’t want to get yourself arrested or pay hefty fines, you have to be sure you know the regulations and choose a place where snorkeling is permitted.
2. Learn about the risks
Snorkeling is the safest among all diving activities. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no risks involved. Luckily, since you’ll be diving in shallow waters, the chances of drowning are slim, but you should still wear a safety vest though.
The sun is a much greater risk. The combination of water and UV rays may give you severe burns. It is important that you use biodegradable sunscreen, but you should also be careful about the biodegradable specification. All other sunscreens are dangerous to the environment, and they are even prohibited in most snorkeling locations.
Underwater animals may also be dangerous to people; and while you’ll hardly encounter a shark, jellyfish stings can also hurt you.
3. Don’t go alone
This is yet another tip in the ultimate guide to snorkeling. This rule is important regardless of your swimming or snorkeling expertise. Going on adventures alone is very risky. A snorkeling friend or guide can help you if something should go wrong. Because an area is said to be safe does not mean that nothing can happen. When it comes to being underwater, everything can put your life in jeopardy, even little (and mostly unserious things) like a muscle cramp.
4. Practice beforehand
You might think that practicing in a pool sounds stupid or amusing? Wait until you realize how hard it is to breathe underwater using the snorkel. Or how uncomfortable it is to swim with the fins. You don’t have to trust me, just put on your gear and get into a pool. After you understand that it’s not all as simple as you thought it would be, you should learn how to practice a little so that you won’t appear to be a newbie when you finally get to your snorkeling destination.
5. Get yourself ready
Even if this is your first adventure ever, it doesn’t mean that you should just go to the snorkeling location and expect snorkeling to start on its own. There are some things you need to go underwater, therefore you have to be sure that you have all the snorkeling gear ready and in prime condition. Also, you should know as much as possible about your location. Know about the type of fish you can expect to encounter or what unique underwater plates live in the area. All this will make your first snorkeling adventure a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
Essential Snorkeling Gear
I’ve already mentioned the snorkeling gear, and the next thing to know in the ultimate guide to snorkeling is to discover what things to pack. This is a quick checklist:
Snorkeling goggles: These are also called snorkel masks. They are special goggles specially made to keep water from getting into your eyes and nose. They have to fit perfectly around your face, and a silicone or rubber band gets attached to your skin, which prevents water from getting into your eyes. Also, a nose piece prevents that dangerous salty ocean water from getting into your nose and throat if you can’t stop yourself from breathing.
Although you can snorkel without goggles, they truly improve the experience, giving you a better chance to keep your eyes wide open and enjoy the underwater world.
Buying snorkeling goggles is the best option. This is because you’ll be able to see a pair that fits you perfectly. However, if you only plan to go snorkeling occasionally, you can also rent them in most places.
Snorkeling fins: Quite like the snorkeling goggles, snorkeling fins are one piece of gear you can choose not to bring. However, they make a huge difference in your diving. Snorkeling fins help with propulsion, and they are also good for swimming long distances. Given the fact that you can’t take an energy bar with you on this adventure, I really advise you to wear fins.
Snorkels: Definitely the most important gear, and one without which you cannot do any snorkeling. Snorkels are tubes that help you to breathe underwater. It comprises a mouthpiece with an open end that goes above the water level. They can be easily found and rented in most places, but since you’ll be putting this thing into your mouth, it is definitely wiser to get your own. Besides, these tubes are not costly, and you won’t have to worry about getting any diseases.
Wet suit: This is important only if you are planning to snorkel for the entire day. They protect you from sunburns, plus wind burns if there is a strong wind in the area.
Biodegradable sunscreen: You obviously know how important it is that you keep your skin protected from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. This is vital even when you’re not snorkeling. However, if you plan to go for an adventure into the ocean without injuring the delicate ecosystem, then a biodegradable sunscreen is a good choice.
This type of sunscreen, also known as a mineral sunscreen, has no harmful chemicals in it. It is only made up of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide particles that provide the ultimate protection for your skin against the rays.
Experts say that this type of sunscreen is good for the environment and does not bleach coral reefs.
Best Places in the World to Snorkel
You now know the basics of snorkeling and the essential gear you need. The next thing on my ultimate guide to snorkeling is to find out the best places in the world to snorkel. The truth is that it is quite difficult to select the best. Every part of the ocean, lake, or sea has its own treasures, and they are all worth exploring.
Nonetheless, here are the best—and my favorite—snorkeling destinations for you to explore.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is obviously the best place in the world for those who love to snorkel. This place is seen as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Here, there are thousands of separate reefs for you to explore. The Great Barrier Reef has more than 1,500 species of fish, six species of sea turtles, and many other forms of life.
2. Jellyfish Lake, Palau
This is one of the top locations for lovers of diving and snorkeling. However, Jellyfish Lake is usually underrated, although it provides an exciting experience. From its name, you can know what to expect here. In this lake, you won’t be diving in open waters but in a saltwater lake that houses tons of (luckily) harmless jellyfish. As you watch the sun rays going through these delicate animals is a stunning, exhilarating adventure that you won’t forget.
3. Rainbow Reef, Fiji
However, if you don’t want to encounter jellyfish, although they are harmless, the Rainbow Reef in Fiji might be a better option for you. This place is home to thousands of colorful fish species and other marine life forms that will give you a unique experience as you swim among them.
4. Komodo National Park, Indonesia
This place is not well-known for snorkeling, however, it is popular for the giant reptiles called the Komodo dragons. Since Komodo Island and its surrounding waters are protected, the underwater has some amazing marine life too. Therefore, if you dream of seeing real dragons and taking a trip down into the sea, Komodo is the ideal place for you.
5. Silfra, Iceland
A remote and frigid country such as Iceland is not the kind of place that you would think of when it comes to snorkeling. Nonetheless, a dive here is as good as a swim in any of the other amazing places. This place has the most welcoming and transparent water you’ll ever snorkel into. Also, you will have the opportunity to see the marine life between two continents—the North American and Eurasian one. Silfra is like no other place and it will reveal such amazing forms of marine life you never heard of.
6. Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas
If you would like a tropical island and you don’t want to get as cold as ice, then go to the Bahamas. The Dean’s Blue Hole is yet another magnificent place to explore. The hole itself draws many divers, but it doesn’t mean that it is prohibited to snorkel here. While here, you can explore the many reefs found here and gaze at the sand disappearing into the astonishing blue hole beneath.
7. The Maldives
When it comes to snorkeling destinations, Maldives is unbeatable. The Maldives is a favorite spot for the rich and also houses more than 700 species of the rarest and most amazing fish in the world. Its shallow blue waters also hide a lot of other marine treasures such as corals, anemones, small sharks, and turtles, and you’ll even encounter one or two octopuses.
Snorkeling Tips for Beginners
Although snorkeling is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have, it can equally be the most challenging one if you’re not prepared for it. This is the reason why I’m giving you a few tips to know before heading into the ocean.
1. Improve your swimming
One of the best things about snorkeling is that if you know the basics of swimming, you can snorkel without any worries. But if you can improve your swimming, you are ultimately enhancing your whole snorkeling experience. This is because you’re also boosting your stamina, endurance, and confidence.
2. Improve your breath hold
You shouldn’t believe that having a snorkel means that you won’t hold your breath. Water can get into the tube because of waves, the position of your head and even the impulse to get a bit closer to the reef. If you don’t want to panic when any of these happen, you must learn how to hold your breath for longer.
Despite being excited about your first time to snorkel, you might get frightened. And when you panic in the water, you’re putting both you and anyone with you in serious danger. That’s why it is important that you practice regularly in a pool or in a water body you are familiar with before diving to explore the unknown. If you want to be more relaxed, you should know about the type of species you are likely to see so that you won’t be surprised when you encounter them.
4. Don’t touch anything
The number one instruction in snorkeling is that you should never touch anything. Regardless of how beautiful and innocent that school of fish looks or how colorful the coral might be, never touch anything. If you want to keep the memories of your experience, then take a waterproof camera with you, snap some selfies with the underwater life, and move on without touching any other thing apart from your camera, the water, and the sand. Apart from harming the marine creatures, some of them are venomous and they may also sting or bite you.
5. Don’t save on equipment
It’s nice to save some money for your trip, but you should never buy snorkeling gear of low quality just to save money. You should buy masks, snorkels, and fins that are durable and fit you perfectly. If you choose to purchase gear of low quality, you might have to deal with improper gear and some might put your life in danger.
When trying out something new, there’s always this sense of fear and anticipation. Being too excited can affect your experience because of the rush of adrenaline in your body. Snorkeling in itself is a lot more fun than it is dangerous, and experiencing an undersea perspective different from your own is humbling, to say the least! And with my ultimate guide to snorkeling, you don’t have to worry about anything.