Learning to Snorkel
Seeing the Underwater Paradise
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Snorkeling is easily learned by everyone.

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 serious freedivers.

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.

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