Learning to Snorkel – A Simple Guide to Safety and Fun

Maui-Snorkel-Tours

Whether your most remote destination is your backyard swimming pool or off somewhere on a tropical vacation, learning how to snorkel opens a whole new world of fun for all ages.

First things first and that is always safety! Never swim without a buddy, no matter where you are, if you do not have someone to look out for you, do not get in the water. Period! Why? Because even the most simple encounters with water can become dangerous situations in a moment’s notice.

Secondly, be honest with yourself about your level of swimming expertise and whether or not you need a life jacket or other type of floatation device. Let’s face it, the honest truth is they are not a fashion statement by any means, a little bit of an ego-deflator, and basically for the most part, all kids hate them. But, they do their job well and help keep you and your loved ones safe, and besides, we are about to strap on fish-like apparatuses with big buggy eyes and webbed fins, how much more silly looking can we get?! If ever in doubt, listen to your gut and use the safety devices available to you.

Never last or least – apply sunscreen! Always apply before you go outside and re-apply after excessive perspiration or when you exit the water. And again, to err on the side of safety, please take a moment to read the ingredients of any sunscreen you are considering for purchase as it means everything to your body as well as that of the ocean! General rule of thumb is this: if you can not pronounce the ingredient, you do not want to apply it to your body; so buy smart and slather away!

Now, we are ready to get into gear!

Choosing a good fitting mask is key to having the best snorkel experience. If it suits your wallet, stretch a little bit and overlook the cheaper plastic skirted masks and go for silicone which is not only more comfortable, but more durable as well. For all snorkelers, large and small, it does not matter how tightly you pull the straps to make it fit, that is not how it’s done.. once you can suck in while pressing a mask to your face and the suction alone keeps it in place with straps dangling you have for the most part found a good fit. (Always ask a professional for help if available.) Adjust straps just enough to help keep the mask in place. All masks come from factory with a protective film that needs to be removed before your first snorkel. A thin layer of toothpaste (not gel) rubbed into the entirety of the inside lens and allowed to dry is one of the best ways to take care of the film and to keep your mask as fog free as possible. Once dry use a dry, clean soft (dry)cloth to remove the toothpaste film, do not rinse! After you are in the water give the mask a quick dip and press it to your face for a snug fit, be sure no stray hairs keep the mask from a compete seal. Getting your hair wet first and slicking it back usually takes care of this problem. Kids will typically want to take their masks off occasionally and dump any stray water that seeps in, as they become more comfortable with their mask teach them the method of applying pressure to the top of the mask in the center and blowing out through their nose – this is the best way to keep your mask crystal clear and free of water (note that a teeny bit of water inside the mask that you can swish around acts as a nice wishy-washy).

The snorkel you choose should always be relevant to the size of the person using it. Do not buy an overly large snorkel for a small child. Practicing in a bathtub with supervision should allow the child to gain confidence in breathing through the mouthpiece instead of through the nose. Make sure the mouthpiece is a comfortable fit and teach them to rest their teeth in place while not biting down.

Proper fin fit is essential to avoid blisters. Fins typically loosen a tad while in use. Never ever walk around in fins, only penguins can get away with this! It is a good way to fall and sustain injury. Put your fins on at waters edge and gently walk in backward, if you’re entering the ocean never ever turn your attention away from the water! Back in, but keep your eyes on what the waves are doing. In a pool simply sit on the edge, slip on your fins and drop into the water. Fins on small children are sometimes more trouble than they are worth, go with the comfort level of any snorkeler, large or small. Once the snorkeler gets the hang of using fins they will quickly learn how much more mobility they have in the water.

Families that build memories learning the process and snorkeling together get to discover whole new worlds that many never get to experience. Bright colorful fish and coral reefs in their natural habitats. Sea turtles, dolphins, and manta rays! Marine life still living in shells – it is essentially paramount that you teach your children from day one how important it is to look but not touch. These are all living creatures and their lives depend on our respect that it is their world and not ours – we are simply visitors!

We hope that you and your family take the snorkel tidbits of information from this guide and visit a surf/snorkel shop as well for more professional instruction.  Our goal is to open an under-the-sea curiosity in your family! If you simply spend your first snorkeling years in the backyard pool, you will still have a lot of fun racing for sinkable pool toys and such, all the while building your skills. You never know, one day you might end up on Maui on a snorkel adventure aboard Sea Monkey Private Charters! Do you have snorkel tips you would like to share with us? Please send them along to info@seamonkeymaui.com, we would love to hear from you!

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