What is a typical snorkeling experience like?
Locations, conditions and the abilities of the groups can vary greatly, so no two snorkeling experiences are ever really the same. The seas have ever-changing moods, so even if you return to the same waters over and over, you’ll always discover something new. What all snorkeling experiences do share, however, is an unparalleled sense of freedom, weightlessness and wonder.
How deep do you go?
Generally, novice snorkelers stay close to the surface, but with a little practice it’s easy to dive down a few feet before returning up for air. Generally, reefs at depths of 3 to 13 feet are most favored snorkeling locations. Deeper depths can be explored by those with more experience and greater levels of fitness.
How long are you out in the water?
Again, this varies depending on the conditions (tides, currents, waves and wind). Fitness is also a major determinant. Snorkelers who stay out too long can be at risk of dehydration, sunburn, exhaustion, cramps and exposure; it’s important to be conscious of the time.
Is there any training provided?
With most operators you should expect a pre-snorkel safety briefing. Some operators only offer rudimentary training, while others give more intensive instruction. One of the attractions of snorkeling is that it’s much simpler than scuba diving, which means that even beginners can be out in the water after just a few minutes of instruction.
The essential skills to learn are how to empty your mask if it floods and how to breathe through and clear your snorkel. When swimming with fins, it’s important to remember to kick from the hip and to relax your knees and ankles to prevent cramping. These skills only take a few minutes to master, so before you know it you’ll be gliding though the water with your arms trailing at your sides with all the grace of a mermaid or merman!
What equipment is used?
One of the attractions of snorkeling is that it requires very little equipment. The three essentials are the face mask, snorkel and fins. If you wear glasses, many rental places offer masks fitted with prescription lenses.
What clothes should I wear?
A swimsuit is pretty much all you need in warmer waters, with a sun shirt or rash guard to protect against sunburn. You’ll need a wetsuit in colder waters.
Be sure to take adequate gear for day; a good hat, sunscreen, jacket, towel and dry clothes.
Do I need to be a strong swimmer?
While some companies will insist that guests have a certain level of proficiency, others welcome non-swimmers as long as they are comfortable in the water. Many operators offer float belts, which help non-swimmers maintain buoyancy. The key to enjoying yourself in the water is to listen to the operator’s pre-snorkel briefing, ask any questions you may have and above all, relax and enjoy the experience!
Where can I go to snorkel?
Wherever there is water, however, the better the visibility, the warmer and calmer the waters and the more there is to see equates to a richer snorkeling experience. Snorkeling off tropical beaches, over coral reefs and around submerged wrecks in shallower water are all popular environments.
While most people think of coral and clown fish when it comes to snorkeling, the planet is dotted with fascinating locations waiting to be explored with fins and mask. In Cancun, snorkel over the astonishing underwater sculptures of Jason de Caires Taylor, while in Iceland, glide between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America. Not far from Naples in Italy, you can explore the submerged ruins of an ancient Roman resort town. If you’re feeling competitive, sign up for the annual World Bog Snorkeling Championships in Wales.
How safe is snorkeling?
Snorkeling can be a dangerous activity and there are fatalities, however, the majority of mishaps occur to lone snorkelers. The number one key to safe snorkeling is to never go it alone; always snorkel with an experienced buddy or join an organized group.
Beginners should stay close to shore or their tour leader and wear a floatation belt or vest to aid their buoyancy and to lesson fatigue. All snorkelers, regardless of their ability, must periodically check the position of their dive boat or entry point. And no matter how cute those undersea critters may seem, it’s never a good idea to start petting or playing with them. Maintain a safe distance and treat the creatures you encounter with respect.
Are there any tips?
Make sure your hair is pulled back so as not to break the seal between the face and the mask. Those with a moustache or beard can apply a smear of petroleum jelly or lip balm to the mouth region to help the seal the mask.
Despite all the advances in technology, face masks are prone to fogging. There are numerous defogging gels and sprays on the market, but many snorkelers swear by spit or even dog drool! A little water left in the bottom of the mask and swished around periodically is enough of a defogging agent for most.
Remember, the key to enjoying your time in the water is to stay relaxed. The more relaxed you are, the more comfortable the marine life around you will be, allowing you to feel truly at one in their world.
How do I make it happen?
So, if you’re ready to take the plunge, let Expedia take you there. We’ll help you book the cheapest flights, the comfiest rooms, the zippiest rental cars, and the most amazing snorkeling excursions, all packed up into one handy, consolidated itinerary.