In this guide, we’ll cover the three detail that is necessary to get the most out of your snorkeling:
Snorkeling is often an undervalued activity. For many travelers in tropic destinations, it’s presented as something anyone can do and often involves working through the surface with rental gear and a swim vest on. But snorkeling can be so much more. In fact, modern scuba diving grew out of snorkeling, or skin diving as it was known then. Snorkeling can be a very satisfying activity. It benefits from its simplicity, where you can simply grab a mask and some fins, rather than dragging a bag full of heavy scuba gear. This also allows for more flexibility, allowing you to bring your gear on trips where bringing tons of scuba gear isn’t a possibility. And the lack of bubbles means you can often get closer to marine wildlife than with scuba gear on.
To really make the most out of your next snorkeling trip, and leave the newbies in your wake, a bit of devising is helpful.
Improve your swimming
If your swimming skills aren’t the best, take some swimming lessons at your local pool. And even if you’re an expert swimmer, becoming an even better swimmer will only benefit you in the water. Focus in particular on the freestyle, as the kicking technique from that style is the one you will be using when snorkeling. Improving your strength and tolerance in the muscles engaged by the kick will help you snorkel more, and with less effort, leaving you free to enjoy the environment instead.
Being an expert swimmer will also allow you to trench the swim vest that is often popular with snorkeling outfits. While a snorkeling vest helps you with flotation, it will also inhibit your movements in the water. And make it harder, if not impossible, to do dives to check out a ridge or fish.
Good swimming skills will help keep you safe in the water.
Swimming is one thing – Swimming with fins on is something else entirely. The extra haul and weight of the fins put an extra toll on the muscles, which is why you might experience hampering up if you’re not used to swimming with fins. So take a pair of fins to the local pool, or your home waters, and do laps with them on.
Learn some Finning Techniques used for Scuba Diving. Mix it up, so you do both long stretches at a mid-level pace, and shorter, faster stretches.
Improve your breath hold
Many snorkelers simply stay at the surface and use the snorkel to puff while looking down. A number of more advanced snorkelers, though, move into the skin diving region by doing occasional dives below the surface while holding their breath. This will allow you to get a much closer look at the marine wildlife, and you’ll traverse reefs and other underwater features up close. To maximize your time underwater, you can train your breath-holding capacity, as well as your swimming efficiency.
For more experience hit up your local freediving club for hands-on training and exercise. With the growing popularity of freediving, these are becoming increasingly easy to find.
Conserving Energy While Snorkeling
Going for an easy swim in tropical waters may not sound like serious exercise, but make no mistake, snorkeling can take it out of you! Even in very warm water, your body loses heat continuously, due to water’s heat capacity being greater than air’s. And moving forward with fins on requires some energy as well.
Add to this that snorkeling trips can be all-day things, with hours consumed in the water, and you can see why thinking about keeping your energy spending down is useful. Like with scuba diving, remember to slow down, relax, and let your fins do the work for you. Being in the water is a new experience for most, so taking the time to relax your body and mind is a must case.
Many new snorkelers have a propensity to try and swim along using their arms as they’d do in a pool. But our legs, in particular with fins on, outperform our arms many times over. So a good way to preserve energy is to keep our arms relaxed at our sides and focus on our fins instead. And don’t kick too hard, even a relaxed kicking pace is enough to drive you forward, and moving too fast just means you’ll zoom by interesting sights.
Plus, kicking too hard and flailing with your arms creates a lot of spatter that will scare away the very animals you’re there to see!
Conserving your air while snorkeling
Breath deep and slow. Breathing through a snorkel can be completely different from breathing without one. Taking deep breaths is very important to get the most out of it. Taking deep breaths also helps retain your heart rate down, which in turn helps you relax and conserve energy.
Many snorkelers are completely happy waiting on the surface throughout their dive, and in that case, they should. While others feel they wish to take short dives on a breath-hold to get closer to reefs, marine animals, or other features in the deep. To get the most out of your single breath, there are a few things you can do:
- First and foremost, relax.
- Take a few moments on the surface to move as little as possible and get your breathing under control.
- Then, take a few deep, controlled breaths.
Don’t hyper oxygenate! This was taught on scuba courses years ago but has since been proven to be unproductive. Simply breathe deep and slowly to fully fill and free your lungs. Then, take an extra deep breath, making sure to fill up your diaphragm first, then chest, and finally the very top of your trunk. When you’re ready for your descent bent 90 degrees at the waist so your trunk is submerged and vertical in the water, and raise your leg up so they, too, are vertical but above water.
The weight of your legs will drive you into the depths, saving you energy in the action. As your fins reach the water, use them to get further depth.
This is much, much more efficient than the swimming climb you often see inexperienced snorkelers attempt.
Once your underwater, relax.
Most people can remarkably improve their breath holds simply by slowing down and relaxing. Swim slowly and efficiently, seeking to smooth your body and making every movement about driving you forward.
A mistake on the side of conservatism. Come up well before you run out of air, and slowly enlarge your bottom time for each time you dive. Soon, you’ll gain a feel for how long you can stay down safely, and most likely, it will be considerably longer than your first move under the surface.
Best Places For Snorkeling
Now that you’re all set for snorkeling, it’s time to consider where to go to get your flippers wet. By no means an exhaustive list, this is simply a DYI bucket list of places to snorkel. Discover the secrets of Oman’s underwater realm with Ahlan Arabia Tours. Bandar Khayran, a secluded cove just 25 minutes boat ride from Muscat, Oman offers a wide variety of fish, a colorful coral reef, and a large number of mangrove trees that form a sanctuary for lobsters, shrimps, and other fish. You can swim over, among exotic tropical fish and other reef dwellers on our ecological underwater safaris. The crystal waters allow snorkelers unrivaled and unobstructed views of the abundant underwater life.
Feel free to add your own in the comments below.