Learning to Snorkel
Seeing the Underwater Paradise
Snorkeling is easily learned by
Equipment. While snorkeling
equipment is readily available for free or by renting, most people like
to at least get their own snorkel itself, since it is put in the
mouth for breathing.
Snorkel. As with such equipment
generally, fit and comfort are the most important factors. Also
important, with a snorkel is minimal breathing resistence. Check the the
snorkel mouthpiece for comfortable fit in your mouth and take deep
breaths. A large bore and smooth, rounded bends ensure ease of
breathing. Also, a self-draining feature, called a purge value,
helps the snorkel to drain on its own.
Snorkels are attached to the mask with some
type of snorkel keeper that comes with snorkel.
Mask. The most important piece of
snorkeling equipment is the mask. While swimming goggles can be worn,
snorkeling masks differ by covering the nose, which makes equalizing pressure pressure
possible during the skin diving phase of snorkeling. Also the larger lens area,
especially the wraparound style, creates wider fields of vision. The
low-profile design, where a separate nose pocket protrudes past
the lens plane, allows the lens to be closer to the face, resulting in a
wider field of vision, as well as the ability to "pinch" the nose for
equalizing (and low internal volume for clearing water out of the mask).
A comfortable mask skirt allows a close fit
and a good seal. Test the fit by placing the mask against your face and inhaling
through your nose. The mask should be pulled onto your face by suction
and stay there while you are inhaling. A silicon, rather than neoprene,
skirt is softer, longer-lasting, more attractive and less irritable to the skin.
Fins. Two types of fins are
available: adjustable fins with a heel strap and full-foot fins.
Adjustable fins are worn with wet-suit boots. Full-foot fins are preferred by skin
divers (often called freedivers) and many other divers. While most of the
high-power models for scuba divers are adjustable fin models, the high-power models for
skin or free divers are full-foot fins, especially the long-bladed, very flexible type for
The novice snorkeler will often chose a more
easily learned fin from scuba and snorkeling shops, especially favoring flexible,
colorful thermoplastic fins, especially those with the newer vented
designs, allowing smaller blades and greater efficiency for
less-tiring, cramp-free outings.
Boots. While boots are not
absolutely necessary, they are worn with adjustable fins and for warmth, traction,
and the protection of the feet against cuts, scapes and bruises from
inshore reef-like material, rocks and even from adjustable-strap fins.
Clothing. Some covering is
desirable simply to protect against abrasion, sunburn and for warmth in the water.
In the tropics, thin material like Lycra is sufficient. Full body wetsuits work fine but
are not necessary. More useful separates such as Lycra-based bicycling or other sports
pants and shirts work fine.