Do you have a love/hate relationship with water as I do? My husband is an avid swimmer and loves snorkeling but me on the other hand not so much. I have been tolling around with the idea of snorkeling for about a year or so but I didn’t know how to swim and I had a thousand questions:
- Is snorkeling for non-swimmers?
- Do I need to be a strong swimmer to snorkel?
- What should I not do while snorkeling?
- What snorkeling tips do you need to know before snorkeling?
If you have never gone snorkeling, and you are scared AF let me tell you: I know exactly how you feel!
I decided to finally face my fear of water and tackle snorkeling for the first time in Hawaii. If you’ve ever been snorkeling and seen someone flapping around in the water, almost drowning, and just looking plain crazy well that was probably me or someone like me who did not do enough research on snorkeling for beginners before they decided to take on a new sport.
Here are my Top 8 beginner’s Tips To Snorkeling For Non-Swimmers.
- You do NOT need to know how to swim to snorkel. I took swimming lessons for an entire year leading up to my first time snorkeling so I could be at least comfortable in the water.
- Make sure you wear a comfortable bathing suit while snorkeling. This was not the time to have on a cute tiny little two-piece that is barely held together. My bathing suit was cute yet practical but some I saw plenty of people with shorts and tee’s on.
- Listen very carefully to your instructors before you go out and ask any many questions as you like so you feel as comfortable as possible.
- Make sure your masks fit comfortably and that it does not leak which is very important. My instructor showed me how to hold the masks up to my face, the straps fit comfortably around my head, and I that I knew how to inhale quickly with my nose to suck in any air and form a tight seal around the mask.
- You will be able to breathe through the snorkel tube. This was the most uncomfortable part of the experience for me and I freaked out the first few times. I was taking short erratic breaths through the tube and got completely disoriented. Then I had an all-out panic attack and had to be rescued by the crew. Can you say embarrassing! I took about a 30-minute break to gather myself and practice on my breathing,
- The number one rule of snorkeling is DON’T PANIC!
- Don’t look down. When snorkeling, you should always look straight ahead of you, and then a slight angle. This keeps water in your tube.
- Snorkeling can be a lot of fun but as with anything else, your safety should come first which means there is a risk of drowning. Make sure you wear a flotation device this means you will need a life jacket or a snorkeling vest.
Advice For First Time Snorkelers
I decided I wasn’t going to let a little thing like fear get the best of me so I slowly made my way into the water holding tightly onto the life jacket as fear started to cripple me and I froze in a panicked state. The waves began to push me around like a rag doll.
At that point, I promised myself, if I came out of the water alive, I owed it to the universe to write a post detailing what nonswimmers like me needed to know about snorkeling for the first time.
I Did It Y’all
I gathered my shit and got back in the water and with nerves of steel this time I kept saying to myself you can do this, you can do this, you are fearless, you are strong! I still just as horrified as I was before but I took slow deep breaths and calmed my nerves and took a peek under water. That wasn’t so bad let’s try it again. There is a sea turtle, there are fish, OMG I am finally snorkeling and I didn’t die.
After an afternoon of snorkeling, I was starving and thank God the adventure came with food. We had our choice of hamburgers, marinated chicken breasts, hot dogs or veggie burgers complete with all the trimmings and tasty Maui-Brand potato chips!
After a full day of snorkeling, we got back onboard the boat, and the smell that delicious aroma coming off the sizzling BBQ grill… YOU’LL BE HUNGRY! Great way to end an adventurous day!
Additional Snorkeling Tips For Beginners
1. Choosing a Location:
Snorkeling can often be done closer to the shore, as well as in open water. For my first time, I chose the open waters because the water can be quite choppy close to shore and the marine life near the shore is rarely as vibrant and colorful as in open waters.
If you decide to snorkel near the shore, you’ll obviously be like “Why are there beer bottles floating around and yuck this is nasty! My advice is to sign-up for one of the many snorkeling trips available in most destinations renowned for snorkeling spots. This will ensure that you are taken to a great spot, there’s legit & qualified personal guidance, and there’s always somebody around to bail you out if something goes wrong.
2. Understand Your Gear, and Insist Upon a Floatation Device:
Considering you’re a non-swimmer, you’ll be given a floatation device anyway, but in case somebody forgets, make sure you insist on one and check it is functioning as desired. Once you have that strapped to you, it is virtually impossible to drown in any water, let alone sea-water.
Snorkeling gear; typically, this consists of a face mask and a pair of flippers. The flippers look easy enough but are so hard to handle. Try them on and make sure they aren’t too loose or too tight because you don’t want to lose a flipper in the water.
The face mask takes a little longer to understand. It consists of a snorkel tube that you must put in your mouth and breathe through, and an eye/nose mask which ensures that no air passes through your nose and no water enters your eyes. Make sure that the strap is just below the broadest part at the back of your skull, and ensure it is tight enough so that no air or water may slip in through the eye-mask – a good indicator of this is when you can’t breathe through your nose at all.
The snorkel tube – the part of the tube that goes into your mouth. It has gone into a lot of other mouths before yours so if it bothers you a lot, you might consider buying your own snorkel mask. Now, this part that goes into your mouth has a very typical indentation – a part of it is supposed to go behind your teeth line, and a part is supposed to remain in front. If you clamp down on it correctly, it will form a mold around your teeth, and you will be able to breathe through it without opening your mouth. Try and remind yourself to relax.
3. Calm Down and Breathe Slow:
The most important rule is to “Keep Calm” the main lesson I have learned is the more you are able to relax, the better you will be able to float and the better control you have over your movement in the water. When I stepped off the last stair and into the open water, within two minutes I was screaming and crying with snot flying everywhere.
I panicked like a turkey at Thanksgiving and clung on to the anchor chain for dear life. After my second attempt, I figured it out I was floating effortlessly, and all I had to do to keep breathing was to keep my snorkel tube above the surface.
Take slow, deep breaths, which go a long way in slowing down your heartbeat. As you begin to relax, reinforce the fact that it is virtually impossible for you to drown with a floatation device.
4. Get out of your Comfort Zone:
No matter how afraid you are to try something new just do it! What’s the worst thing that can happen? It’s ok not to be perfect on your first snorkeling attempt but don’t give up. Focus on trying to enjoy yourself as much as possible without drowning.
5. Remain Aware of Your Surroundings:
Finally, if it’s your first time be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on where your fellow snorkelers and how far you’ve ventured from the boat. Don’t push yourself too much or get carried away. It’s only your first time, and if this one goes well, I can assure you there’ll likely be much more.
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I was so proud of myself that I signed up to go Kayaking and snorkeling again the next day through Tom Barefoot Adventures.
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