How to Snorkel Without Swallowing Water

Do you love the idea of snorkeling? If you’ve never been, or you’re just starting out, perhaps you’re wondering how to snorkel without swallowing water. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get liquid into your snorkel and then to swallow this – not a pleasant experience!

When you’re just practicing snorkeling, stay at the surface; not much water will go into your snorkel in the first place. Once you get more confident, you’ll want to start diving. Then, you’ll need to know how to get water out of your snorkel without taking off your mask. This can be done with a sharp exhale to drive it out of the tube.

How to Snorkel Without Swallowing Water

Stay On The Surface

If you’re at the surface to begin with, you should end up with less water in the pipe. You should stay with your head half above and half below the surface (so the back of your head is out). This will allow you to look down without ending up choking on the sea.

Staying near the surface will still let you see plenty of the underwater world. However, you won’t really risk liquid getting in the snorkel unless the surface is choppy. If it is, we’ll give you tips on how to clear the pipe out later.

Look Down

You don’t want to accidentally tip the end of your snorkel underwater, so try to look straight down. If you’re looking back under your body (toward your feet), you’re likely to get seawater in the tube.

Stare down at the bottom of the seafloor instead, and swim over anything you want to look at, rather than tilting your head. This will keep the pipe upright and minimize the amount of liquid that goes in.


Try and practice before you go out too deep or dive down below the surface. Breathing through a pipe can be an odd experience. It takes a bit of getting used to, so don’t just plunge into the depths.

Spend some time in the shallows, checking that your mask fits well and getting used to breathing through a tube. You need to breathe deeply and slowly while snorkeling. Some of the carbon dioxide will stay in the pipe on each cycle, which may make you feel you aren’t getting enough air.

Practice deep breathing and get used to the feeling before you test yourself in more challenging conditions. Some people like to do this on land before they even start to swim.

Once you have got the hang of it, you can head into deeper water. You’ll have mastered the sensation, and you’re also less likely to feel panicked if you do get some liquid in the tube or your mouth.

When you start diving, only dive a little way to begin with, so you can surface quickly. This will let you tip any liquid out of the tube easily. As you gain confidence, you can swim down deeper.

Use Your Tongue

Your tongue can serve as a sort of splash guard if you position it correctly in your mouth. If you aren’t sure whether the pipe is clear, press your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

When you inhale, any liquid in the tube will go under your tongue. This isn’t pleasant, but it’s better than inhaling it! You can then blow hard to force this back up the tube and out.

Don’t Rush

Next on our list of tips for how to snorkel without swallowing water: go slowly. If you’re swimming around too fast, you’re likely to splash your own snorkel. A lot of the fast swim strokes will also involve turning your head. This doesn’t work well when you’re snorkeling.

Usually, you’ll have fins on when snorkeling. If so, use these to glide around instead of trying to rush. They will make it much easier to swim in a relaxed manner. This, in turn, will make you less likely to swallow water.

To add to the relaxation of this activity, consider a floatation device such as an inflatable vest. This can make it much easier to just drift around, and will allow you to swim for longer periods of time, without getting too tired. If you aren’t a strong swimmer, it’s a great idea.

Get Fitted Equipment

Even a strong swimmer will struggle if their equipment isn’t the right size. Your mask should create a gentle suction against your face. When putting it on, inhale gently through your nose. If you feel it seal comfortably, it’s a good fit.

If it doesn’t seal, it’s too big. If it seals uncomfortably, it’s too small.

If you have long hair, consider tying it back so it doesn’t get in the way of the seal, or in your face.

The tube should fit at a 45 degree angle between the back of your head and the top. Enough should stick out so that it will protrude above the surface. The tube should feel comfortable in your mouth. It shouldn’t be tense or pulling away.

Empty Your Snorkel When Necessary

You are likely to need to empty water out of your snorkel sometimes. You can do this very simply by taking the end out of your mouth and tipping it out. However, this is annoying sometimes. It means you’ll need to tread water while you try and handle the equipment.

If you can get the hang of blowing air up to clear the pipe, this is often better. You need air in your lungs to do this. You want to exhale sharply, driving the liquid out of the pipe with the force of your breath.

This may take a bit of practice, but you should try and learn how to do it. It will save you a lot of time. Don’t panic if you find you can’t. You can always take the end out of your mouth and tip the water out instead.

Use A Nose Clip

Some people find it really challenging to breathe through their mouths only. If you’re using basic swim goggles instead of a mask, this is more likely to be the case. If you find you’re struggling, consider using a nose clip. This will close your nose and make sure you can only inhale through your mouth.

Don’t Dive Until You’re Ready

You might be eager to dive down and explore that tempting world below. However, you shouldn’t do this until you’ve practiced a bit first. You should take some deep, slow breaths, and make sure you are calm. When ready, draw in another deep breath, hold it, and dive.

You can buy special snorkels that will seal when underwater, so you don’t have to clear them when you return to the surface. Alternatively, you can learn to dive with an ordinary snorkel. Just take it out of your mouth or blow the liquid out when you surface.


If you’re eager to get swimming, hopefully you have enjoyed our tips on how to snorkel without swallowing water. Go slowly and practice. As long as you don’t panic if something goes wrong, you should be fine. Remember, you can always take the tube out of your mouth to breathe if it has started filling up with liquid!

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