Knowing your limits and not exceeding them is excellent advice for 99.9% of activities in which a person participates, snorkeling is not an exception. Going beyond your physical limits can turn an otherwise enjoyable adventure into an uncomfortable and potentially hazardous situation. The following are some guidelines and safety precautions that should be followed when engaging in snorkeling.
Don't go in the water if you are tired or following any strenuous activities as it requires energy and stamina and could actually be considered a form of exercise in and of itself.
Proper gear at minimum includes a mask, fins, snorkel and snorkeling vest. The mask should fit comfortably and enclose the nose. The fins should have some flexibility to the blade portion and follow manufacturer recommendations whether additional foot gear such as boots are needed when using them. Snorkels should have the appropriate bore size and the vests should be worn by adults and children alike and should be used in accordance to size and weight limitations. Read more about the proper fit and how to chose your gear on the top of our page, Expert Advice.
Don't use any equipment that is damaged. Mask & fin straps, belts, keepers, buckles etc. should be inspected for any wear and tear prior to use and replaced if needed. A spare parts kit with appropriate replacement parts is always good to have on hand. Inflate and test that the vest inflates and holds air.
It is not advisable to go in the water alone and much more enjoyable and safer with a snorkeling buddy.
Children using snorkel gear should be supervised by adults at all times and their snorkeling vests should be left partially inflated depending on age and or comfort.
If you are at a resort, check with the front desk or concierge on where to obtain information on local sites. Many resorts have onsite water activity coordinators or are associated with facilities which offer fee based boat tours. These, as well as local area dive stores, are your best resources for finding areas that offer good opportunities. Formal orientations should include information such as local marine life, special information regarding safety and even interesting history about the sites themselves. Read our Snorkeling Destination Guides. If your adventure is shore based, make sure that you take into account the water conditions including current, surf, wave action and tide, check the weather forecast. Read this article Snorkeling From the Shore and Best Time of the Day to Snorkel. If you are going from a boat, listen to, respect and follow all instructions from the captain and crew. Take time to read, Snorkeling From the Boat.
Exposure protection is always advisable both in and out of the water. T-shirts, sunglasses with polarized lenses and a hats are good for out of the water. In water exposure protection is also advised as heat loss in water is more rapid than on land so choosing exposure protection which offers some thermal insulation such as a neoprene shorty or jumpsuit is also a good idea. These suits will not only slow down the heat loss but will also add a measure of protection against sunburn and accidental contact with marine life such as corals and jellyfish.
If you are incorporating hunting, harvesting or collecting any marine life, please obtain any necessary permits and be mindful of the laws and seasons for such activity.
Assuming marine life such as dolphins will act as they do in the movies is a big mistake. There is a big difference between trained animals and wild animals. Avoid wearing reflective jewelry such as rings and dangling pendants as they are better used as fishing lures.