What better way is there to explore and enjoy coral reefs and mingle with a variety of tropical fish than to go snorkeling? With very little expense and equipment, snorkeling allows you to safely visit the underwater world. At first glance snorkeling may appear to be easy, but it can become risky if you’re not sure what you’re doing. To get the most out of your experience, relax, practice and learn a few key snorkeling techniques.
Know Your Equipment
Your mask should be a good fit for your face. To be sure it fits, hold it against your face with the strap out of the way and breathe in through your nose. The mask should seal against your face and stay in place without you holding it with your hands for as long as you're breathing in. Adjust the strap so it is tight enough to keep the mask sealed against your face, but not too tight because this can cause the mask to leak. The strap should sit high across the back of your head. The snorkel, an air tube with a mouthpiece, attaches to the mask's strap and should be positioned in front of your ear. Your fins should be comfortable, not too snug. If they are too big, you can get blisters or cramps.
If you've never snorkeled, the thought of putting your face in water and breathing through your mouth through a tube can be a little unnerving. A technique to help you relax and calm your nerves is to practice breathing with your head out of the water. Once you've gotten the hang of mouth breathing, practice in a pool or calm, shallow beach water. Float horizontally with your face in the water, stay relaxed and practice breathing slowly and rhythmically.
It happens to most snorkelers -- the mask fogs up or water leaks in. To keep your mask from fogging up you can apply a defogging product to the inside of your mask before putting it on. What works just as well is your own saliva. Simply rub a small amount of saliva on the inside of the mask and then give it a quick rinse in the water. You can also flood your mask. To do this, while under the water, pull the bottom of the mask away from your face and allow the water to enter in your mask. Then lift your head out of the water, tilt the bottom of the mask away from your face and allow the water to drain out. If water has leaked into your mask, use the same technique.
Clearing Your Snorkel
Your snorkel may fill up with water from splashing waves or when you dive below the surface of the water. An important technique to learn is how to clear or purge your snorkel. The most common way is to strongly exhale and give a forceful puff of air into your snorkel. If you are below the surface, ascend and just as you are about to break the water's surface, tilt your head back and give a strong blow. Most of the water will be cleared, but you should still be cautious with your next breath just in case some water is still in the tube.
It's easy to misjudge the depth of the water you're snorkeling in because objects look 25 percent larger or closer than on land. A simple technique to help you learn to judge water distances is to float in shallow water, shallow enough so you can touch the bottom. Reach out and touch the bottom. Take note and get familiar with how an arm's length looks under the water.