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Snorkeling

The practice of swimming at the surface (typically of the sea) being equipped with a mask and a short tube called a snorkel.

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Snorkeling 101

  • Dec 17, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
Snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea is an amazing experience that everyone should have. But anywhere that has calm gentle waters, coral reefs abundant in varieties of fish, and crystal clear water visibility will achieve the same end. I was kayaking out to a small coral reef island off the island of Vieques, off the island of Puerto Rico, to snorkel in these perfect waters and discover another small patch of the ocean. Snorkeling is my ideal hobby because it requires very little training, is not expensive and the equipment is much lighter than golf bags, sets of skis, or scuba gear.
 
Most of the problems people experience with snorkeling can be solved by reexamining their gear. Usually people buy the cheapest, generic set of masks, fins, and snorkels they can find assuming that all snorkel sets are made equal – not true.
 
Fins:
Most generic sets are uncomfortable and the wrong size leads to all types of problems. The generic sets usually come with adjustable straps for the flippers, but I have to advise against this type. In my experience, the strap often breaks because the flipper shoe is too big or small and can’t handle water pressure when you kick. Get a fitted flipper and rule of thumb is to get it a size or so smaller than your actual foot size, for a tight fit. Something to consider: you can’t share if your friend has a different size foot. (Of course, if the strap and design are really good, many snorkelers do just fine with flippers that have adjustable straps and can share or adjust if you have a growing child.)
 
Mask:
Most generic sets come with a weak adjustable strap for the mask and don’t hold a tight seal, or worse even break, ruining your dive. Make sure the mask strap stretches easily so once you set the strap you’ll be able to take the mask on and off with comfort. Because snorkeling is primarily done on the surface, some masks have directionally pointed lenses that allow for better downward vision, but some snorkelers find this annoying if they dive often. You will also need some anti-fogging lens cleaner to keep your mask clarity as sharp as possible.
 
 Snorkel:
Finally, and most importantly many generic sets come with terrible snorkels. Either the topside part of the tube is too short and makes you swallow salt water with any size wave; the top side snorkel isn’t angled to align with the natural angle you snorkel at, forcing you to swallow salt water unless your head is pointed straight down; or the angle and size of the mouthpiece doesn’t align with the size and shape of your head or bite. Any one of these can be the result of poor design or a bad fit. These shortcomings can be compensated by:  a flexible tube that can be adjusted according to your face size and/or a flapper valve on the topside of the tube that closes with water pressure but opens when you exhale. (Many snorkelers know that when you dive below the surface you have to save extra breath to expel all the water that fills your snorkel, with the flapper valve you don’t need nearly as much breath.) But unless you’re in really choppy water, a seasoned snorkeler won’t need the flapper valve.
 
Extras:
I like to have a meshed collection bag in which to put shells and other cool things I find. My friend likes to snorkel with a diving knife that you can strap to your leg that provides a modest sense of safety. Also bring a good amount of sun block to reapply every so often because the sun is searing through the water.
 
The total damage for a decent snorkel set with all the extras shouldn’t run you more than $100. Some online vendors provide even better deals because shipping isn’t too expensive. So next time you’re lugging your golf bag/ski set/scuba gear past me in the airport you’ll find me skating right by you with my snorkel gear neatly packed in my carry-on luggage.

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July 10, 2011
I like the pristine waters of Miami or the Bahamas
 
May 04, 2011
Great guide! My first time snorkeling was in Hawaii at Hanauma bay. It was magical.
 
June 01, 2010
Sounds like a blast! Thanks for the review of this activity and the common sense tips you outlined.
June 01, 2010
Thanks for reading!:)
 
January 28, 2010
Sounds good! I should really go into the ocean more often! I have many chances but haven't got the guts, lol... May be next trip to Fiji or Jeju Island! Thanks for the tips!
June 01, 2010
Thanks, Sharrie! It's definitely worth a try at least once to see if you like it or not. BTW, do you have a review on Fiji? It's a place I've been wanting to go to and I would love to hear about it if you've been!
June 03, 2010
Nearly visited just before the typhoon. No, not yet. Heard from Asian friends that it's not that great (i.e. not much different from Asia).
 
December 20, 2009
I actually saw this doco on snorkeling a few weeks ago...it's not as easy as one may think! Nice write up, Bethany!
December 23, 2009
Thanks! It takes a bit of practice, but it's a great way to see the ocean and all of it's creatures:)
 
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Bethany ()
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Hello Lunchers!      I am a contributing writer foran onlinelife and style website that highlights hot-spots in Minneapolis and Chicago. As such, I frequent many new boutiques, restaurants, … more
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Wiki

Snorkeling is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn. Using this equipment allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time with relatively little effort.

 

It is a popular recreational activity, particularly at tropical resort and scuba diving locations. Snorkelling is also employed by scuba divers when on the surface, and search and rescue teams may snorkel as part of a water-based search.

 

The primary attraction of snorkeling is the opportunity to observe underwater life in a natural setting without the complicated equipment and training required for scuba diving, and without the exhaled bubbles of scuba-diving equipment. Snorkeling is also a means to an end in popular sports such as underwater hockey, underwater ice hockey, underwater rugby and spearfishing.

 

A snorkel is a tube around 30 centimeters long and with an inside diameter of between 1.5 and 2.5 centimeters, usually L- or J-shaped and fitted with a mouthpiece at the lower end, and constructed of rubber or plastic. It is used for breathing air from above the water surface when the wearer's mouth and nose are submerged. The snorkel usually has a piece of rubber that attaches the snorkel to the outside of the strap of the diving mask since pushing the snorkel between the mask-strap and the head can cause the mask to ...

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