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Snorkeling is an adventure for every water-loving traveler, especially for those visiting tropical places. While some spots in the Caribbean boast full-on snorkel tours, there are many other locations where visitors are free to snorkel on their own, tour or no tour. In this case, it's important to remember that snorkeling does involve a set of guidelines that apply just as diving would. While no supplemental oxygen is needed, things such as being comfortable with a snorkel mask and learning how to read the water's currents can mean the difference between a good snorkel trip or a bad one.


When it comes to tips to remember while snorkeling and what to avoid during one's first time in the water, we've got it all.

Tips To Remember While Tropical Snorkeling

As opposed to snorkeling at one's local beachfront or lakeside, tropical snorkeling includes the wilds of an offshore reef or marine ecosystem. This is especially popular in places around the Caribbean, where many reefs are located easily offshore or tours are offered to reefs that are set in deeper water. Regardless of where the snorkel spot is, the tips one should remember remain the same.

Avoid Renting Cheap Equipment, This Isn't The Time To Save Money

Renting cheap snorkel equipment can not only lead to malfunctions but may also lead to a poor snorkel experience, altogether. Whether it's a leaky mask or a foggy lens, neither of these things are desirable when one is swimming in 15 feet of water. First-timer snorkelers, especially, will benefit from using a mask-fitting guide. It's also worth splurging for a 'dry mask' or one with a splash guard, which will prevent water from coming down the spout in the event of a wave or accidental dip. A well-fitting mask will create a suction-like seal around one's face in order to prevent water from getting into the mask.

Additionally, choosing the right fins are worth the splurge, as well. There's nothing worse than losing one while swimming or having to flip around fins that are too large or too tight, as this can lead to awkward maneuvering underwater.

Practice Makes Perfect, Even Above Water

It's a good idea to be comfortable wearing snorkel gear before trying it on in the water. Learning how to properly fit a snorkel mask - as they are adjustable - can mean the difference between having an effortless experience or having one that's full of bumps. Trial and error is part of the learning process, but this takes on a wildly different meaning underwater. Practice wearing the mask on land and getting used to the fins in shallow water prior to taking the plunge into deeper reef territory.

Choose A Snorkeling Spot Based On Skill Set

Not everyone is a born snorkeler and according to tropicalsnorkeling.com, it's far easier for beginners to start from the beach rather than from a boat. In order to keep one's bearings, starting from the beach offers a gradual introduction to the water and snorkeling depths. Whereas from a boat, snorkelers are going over the side which allows room for fear and doubt when it comes to floating and the feeling of weightlessness in the water. First-timers will find that snorkeling from the beach and swimming out to a spot is far easier - and less fear-inducing - than going from a boat for the first time.

Related: Here’s What It’s Like To Snorkel At Lake Tahoe (In Pictures)

What To Avoid When Snorkeling In A Tropical Locale

When snorkeling for the first time in a tropical place, there are some things to avoid doing, especially for first-timers. The experience might be new, but it's also one that can be highly rewarding if one knows what not to do.

  • Be very aware of marine life. This goes beyond just not touching fish, crustaceans, or reefs. Interacting with marine life can prove disastrous for a delicate underwater ecosystem, and in some cases, can prove harmful for humans, too. Depending on the defenses of anything from coral to poisonous fish, snorkelers should always keep their hands to themselves.
  • Do not snorkel if you're uncomfortable. This applies to anything from an ill-fitting mask or fins that continuously slip. If the comfort level underwater isn't there, head back to the surface or the shore to fix the issue.
  • Watch those fins. Whether a snorkeler realizes it or not, fins can cause more damage than anyone could imagine. All it takes is one swift kick of a foot to destroy a piece of coral, which could take years to grow back - and could mean the destruction a marine home in the process.
  • Avoid murky water and overexertion. This happens more often than one might think, and it can lead to disorientation, even in shallow water. Avoid murky conditions and turn around if the water visibility becomes low. Additionally, the second a snorkeler feels fatigued, that's a good queue to turn around and call it a day.
  • Keep hands out of crevices and cracks. It might seem safe to place one's hand on a rock or inside a crevice to help navigate, but this is a great way to unintentionally get stung by a sea creature that doesn't realize what's happening.
  • Pay attention to the water currents. Even underwater, currents can catch swimmers off-guard. If the current feels to strong or begins to feel exhausting to swim against, avoid it.

All of these tips will help first-timers have a safe - and fun - snorkeling experience. When visiting a tropical place, snorkeling is a must, so knowing what to do beforehand makes all the difference.