Snorkeling For Beginners: How To Snorkel Step By Step

Snorkeling For Beginners

Are you looking to ease into snorkeling and understand a bit about it? This is important to do; before you buy the equipment and get going, there are quite a few things to learn!

A beginner snorkeler will need a well-fitted mask and snorkel, and may also benefit from fins, a wetsuit, and a life jacket. You’ll also need to learn how to breathe through a pipe comfortably. How to avoid getting water in your mouth and how to seal your mask to your face are further important lessons.

Snorkeling For Beginners

Is Snorkeling Hard To Learn?

It is not the hardest sport, but it is not as easy as some people think it is. This misconception can lead to an unpleasant first experience. Learning to breathe through a tube is uncomfortable for many people.

The tube will often have leftover carbon dioxide from your previous breath in it. This can make it feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen to begin with. In order to make it more comfortable, some people practice breathing on land first, or in the shallows.

This will give you more confidence when you venture out further. It will also make it easier to stay calm if you get seawater in the tube.

It’s a good idea to approach snorkeling with a very relaxed attitude, and to push your boundaries slowly. Getting out too deep too fast can make it a frightening experience.

How Will You Choose Your Snorkel Mask?

The key to choosing a mask is making sure that it fits comfortably. If it doesn’t fit, it will leak, steam up, and feel uncomfortable. You will need to constantly stop and adjust it. This can be difficult if you’re out of your depth, and is often frustrating.

To check a mask fits well, hold your breath and gently press it against your face. Let go of it and it should stay against your face. If it falls off, it doesn’t fit properly.

Don’t inhale as you let go; this will make it stick, and render the test useless. Just let go and see if it stays on. If it does, it probably fits well enough. Test a variety of masks and choose whichever clings best.

How Do You Seal A Snorkel Mask?

To create a seal, you need to inhale through your nose once the mask is on your face. This will create a slight vacuum, pulling the rubber “skirt” into place against your skin and preventing any liquid from entering.

You will then want to minimize exhaling through your nose. At points, you’ll need to exhale a little to keep the pressure right and make it comfortable. However, the less you can do so, the better. If the seal breaks, liquid and air can get in. Water will need to be emptied out. Air will fog up the lenses.

Learning how to seal your mask is key. If you can’t seal it properly, you’re not going to have fun out there!

How Do You Breathe Through A Snorkel?

You may want to practice breathing through a snorkel on land first, especially if you are nervous. Alternatively, try it out in shallow water, just putting your face under. This will help you get used to the sensation.

Put the rubber end in your mouth and seal your lips around it. Make sure that the top of the tube is sticking out of the water. Take a slow, deep breath. You need to breathe calmly while snorkeling to ensure you get enough oxygen. You should be able to hear your breaths. Work out a calm rhythm.

Once you have a rhythm, practice a short, hard breath through the pipe. This is how you will expel any liquid that gets into the tube. You can do it with an empty tube to start with, or deliberately let a bit of seawater splash in.

Don’t panic if you get uncomfortable. Just lift your head above the surface, take the mouthpiece out of your mouth, and breathe slowly until you feel calm.

Can Non-Swimmers Do Snorkeling? Snorkeling With Life Jacket

Many snorkelers wear life jackets. If you’ve seen them, you might wonder why and if that means non-swimmers can snorkel. While a non-swimmer could theoretically do some snorkeling with a life jacket, this is not necessarily a good idea.

Really, if you cannot swim, you should not consider watersports a safe option. While you can do them, you are at much greater risk if something goes wrong. If you lose your life jacket or it fails, you could drown.

It would be better to take a few basic swimming lessons before considering any watersports. You will probably get a lot more enjoyment from it than if you go without knowing how to swim!

How To Snorkel Without Swallowing Water

There are quite a few tips and tricks that should help you avoid swallowing water when snorkeling. Firstly, choose calm seas and stay in the shallows until you’ve got to grips with the sport.

Secondly, keep your head level so that the tube doesn’t dip down close to the surface. If you move your head to look behind you or in front of you, you’re likely to get seawater in the tube.

Practice expelling liquid from the pipe, as described above, with a short, sharp breath of air. This will force liquid out of the tube so you can breathe freely again.

If water does get into your mouth, seal your tongue against the roof of your mouth. This will stop you from swallowing it.

What Equipment Do You Need For Snorkeling?

You will need a well-fitted mask and a snorkel that feels comfortable in your mouth and sticks out behind your head. This is all that is technically required, but other equipment may help.

Many people prefer to have fins for this sport. This reduces the effort involved with swimming, allowing them to stay out for longer. It also makes it easy to glide along slowly.

Equally, using a life jacket or snorkel vest can make it more comfortable. The vest is similar to a life jacket, but makes it easier to keep your head in the water.

How Long Can You Stay Underwater With A Snorkel?

While the tube is above the surface, you have access to as much air as you want. You can stay in the water for as long as you feel like it. As long as the tube is clear, you can breathe normally.

If you want to dive, the snorkel won’t extend the period of time you can stay under for. It doesn’t help you breathe away from the surface. How long you can stay down will depend on how long you can hold your breath.

Snorkeling With A Mustache And Beard; Is It Possible?

Hair on your face can make it difficult to create a decent seal. You’ll need to choose a mask that fits really well, and consider cutting your beard to reduce its interference with the seal.

If you want to, you can also apply food-grade silicone to your hair at the points where it touches the seal. This will help to improve the seal and reduce any air or water flow.


Snorkeling is a great sport to get into, but there are a few things to think about before you start. Having fitted equipment, a bit of practice at breathing, and techniques to keep water out of your mouth are all key to an enjoyable experience.

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