A family sport, snorkeling is very easy to learn and is packed with fun. 'Stay relaxed while in water' is the adage for snorkeling success. When you snorkel in a relaxed manner the sea animals do not feel they have a stranger amongst them and carry on their usual way. What better way to explore the wonderful world under water!
Snorkeling is a popular underwater activity at tropical resorts and scuba diving spots. Snorkeling is usually done at places where the waves are minimal; the water is warm and most of all where there is something attractive for snorkelers. Popular snorkeling locations include Coral Sea, Red Sea and the Caribbean Sea as these seas are warm and coral-rich.
Swimming at the surface of a water body is called snorkeling. People who wish to snorkel must equip themselves with swim fins, snorkel (a shaped tube) and a diving mask. If the water is very cool, a wetsuit is also used. Snorkeling does not require any special training; any person who wishes to indulge in this activity should know to swim and should learn to breathe through the snorkel. Snorkeling instructions by guides include:
People who get into this activity for the first time should feel comfortable while they wear the mask and while they breath through the snorkel. Few beginners get jittery while they get into the water with the mask and snorkel on. Beginners can practice snorkeling in shallow waters initially. There might be some initial discomfort with the mask and the snorkel. Snorkelers should learn to keep their face below the water surface and look through the mask. They should practice breathing through the snorkel while watching underwater attractions. The main advantage of snorkeling in shallow water is that a person need not burn energy for swimming.
Snorkelers should also learn to clear the water off the mask and the snorkel. If the tube of the snorkel is logged with water, exhale through your mouth forcefully. This action will push the excess water out of the snorkel. Snorkels with built-in drainage valves are also available; this valve will push out the water. Small amounts of water can easily be pushed out with these valves.
Clearing the mask is just like clearing the snorkel but can be a little more difficult with poor visibility. Lift your head out of the water and pull the front of the mask frontward; this will create a gap at the bottom of the mask thus clearing off the excess water. A few masks have a built-in purge valve, this functions just like the drain valve in the snorkel. A one-way valve that allows water only out and not in can be used by snorkelers to clear the excess water in the mask. They just have to blow air out of their nose and the water will be cleared.
Snorkeling in open water without touching the bottom is the best way to learn snorkeling. To practice, the snorkeler should feel at ease while using the fins. Following these simple basics will help a person become a great snorkeler:
Safety aspects for snorkeling
Selecting snorkeling gear
Snorkeling mask: Select a mask that will fit you right. Masks that don't fit in perfectly can keep leaking and make you uncomfortable. Try the mask before you buy it. While checking the mask for fit, move your hair out of the way and move the strap away and push the mask tightly on your face. The mask should fit perfectly without any support. Other aspects you have to check in a mask are visibility, comfort and cost. Few masks have side glasses and provide a wider vision. Masks are priced between US$ 15 and US$ 80.
Snorkel: While buying a snorkel, ensure that the snorkel mouthpiece is soft and has flexible edges. The snorkel should fit your mouth perfectly. A variety of designs are available depending on the bore diameter and the length. Snorkels are priced between US$ 10 and US$ 40.
Fins: Snorkeling fins are not a compulsory accessory for snorkeling but fins do provide additional propel to the snorkeler. Fins are available as open-heel fins and full foot fins. Choose fins that fit you perfectly and firmly but tight fins can hurt the user and can cause blisters.
Snorkel vest: These vests are inflatable and provide better buoyancy while snorkeling but are not of use to those who cannot swim. Snorkel vests are priced between US$ 25 and US$ 50.
Mesh bag: This will be useful to store all the extras you carry underwater.
Sun protection suit: This suit is available for children and adults and offers protection against the harsh sunlight.
Sunscreen: Use a sunscreen with a 15 SPF to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays.
Underwater camera: This is ideal to capture some precious moments underwater.
Selecting a snorkeling spot
Various factors have to be considered while selecting a snorkeling spot. It is advisable to check with the local people for weather conditions and safety of the spot. Dive shops have plenty of information about the snorkeling spots. Most of the snorkeling spots are reachable through fishing boats. The ideal spot for snorkeling is calm sans currents.
Popular reef snorkeling spots