Those of us who love the water often find ourselves gravitating toward holidays that allow for new aquatic experiences. Sure, it’s great if the hotel has a nice swimming pool, but we also often want to spend time on or in the open water. We’re always up for white-water rafting, water skiing or surfing — whatever our location offers.
Not everyone is into adrenaline sports, though, and sometimes you want something a bit more relaxing that the whole family can do together. Why not try snorkelling? It’s accessible (you don’t need extensive training or certification like you do for scuba diving; all you need are a mask, snorkel and fins, you get to see cool stuff (the aquatic life can be amazing, especially in the tropics, and experiencing it underwater is much different from looking down from above) and it can be a good workout (you could just float around in one place — and maybe you’ll want to if you can’t tear yourself away from the perfect fish-watching spot — but if you choose to swim around, whether at the surface or underwater, you’ll get muscle-building and cardiovascular benefits).
If you haven’t snorkelled before, keep these tips in mind to make sure your experience is a positive one:
Use equipment that fits. There’s nothing more annoying than a mask that constantly fills up with water, so make sure you get one that fits your face and creates a good seal. And your fins should be snug enough that they won’t slip off, but not so tight that they hurt or you have to curl your toes.
Apply biodegradable coral-safe sunscreen before you start. If you have particularly fair skin or are planning to snorkel for several hours, you might want to wear a rashie as well to prevent sunburn.
Keep an eye out for other recreationists. You don’t want to get run over if boats or jet skis are in the same area. Wearing bright-coloured clothing can help make you more visible.
Snorkel with a buddy. It’s always a good idea to pair up so you can watch out for each other in case an emergency arises, even if you are both strong swimmers.
Be aware of ocean conditions. Pay attention to the tides, and avoid pounding surf and rocky shores.
If you’re snorkelling by a coral reef, don’t touch the coral. It’s extremely fragile (and some species are protected). Plus, reefs can harbour poisonous or stinging creatures. Best to just watch and not touch!
Do you have any additional tips to share with first-time snorkelers?