20 Beginner Tips for Snorkeling

Beginner tips for Snorkeling

Starting anything that is new to you can be intimidating, which is why we equip ourselves with some pointers that guide us in the right direction.

Snorkeling is an enticing and wondrous activity that allures so many of us to splash into its aquatic playground.​

We all have to start somewhere, but going at the sport with the right equipment and head space can be essential to the prolonging of you enjoying the rewarding activity.

So for those new snorkelers braving the big blue, take a glance at our tips for beginners to succeed at snorkeling!

#1 Pick a beach

Whether you're on vacation wanting to go snorkeling, or at your local beachfront, select a site that suits you.  What ever intrigued you to get in and see what’s in the sea, remember to consider this while selecting an ocean realm to explore.  If your skillset is novice maybe try a bay or lagoon.  This doesn’t mean your limited to starting there.  The suggestion is for those who need a calm stable habitat while exploring.  Once a dive site is selected I recommend going online and familiarizing yourself with the beach or bay.  

#2 Learn the Ecology Biology

One of the many reasons people go snorkeling is to observe and witness the wildlife and habitat.  Educate yourself with what creatures you’ll be observing.  Do they hide under rocks? Can they sting you?  Understanding if certain animals are harmful will help prepare you if when coming across the biodiversity on your swim.  It’s also wise to witness the wildlife with your eyes and try not picking up any marine life.  To further enjoy seeing these animals in the future and reduce your chance for a harmful encounter to your or the animal. 

#3 How are your swimming skills

Now if you aren’t the best swimmer, I’d suggest practicing in a pool or equipping yourself with a snorkel life vest.  Now this type of equipment is not by any means required.  It’s just a suggestion for anyone snorkeling that has a hard time with swimming.  Now with this said always mind your abilities and have fun!

#4 Do you need a local guide 

For first timers to a new environment or even new to the sport, one may seek professional guidance.  Now paying for a guide isn’t for every beginner.  But it’s always fun to learn extra facts about the ecology and biology of the place your exploring along with possibly learning a few new snorkeling tips.  These are the experts of the area and it can really enhance your first time experience to see what they have to offer. 


#5 Grab some gear

So depending on the beach, do you have the right exposure suit?  When looking at wetsuits you may hear people speak of them in millimeters of neoprene.  3mm suits are typically worn in warmer water above 70 and 5mm suits are typically worn in temperate waters around 70 and below.  Also amongst selecting the right wetsuit for your adventure, have you selected the right gear to capture your moment.  Getting disposable throw away underwater cameras or even investing in a GoPro are solid gadgets to equip yourself with while documenting your first time snorkeling. 

You can also take a look at our FinBin "best snorkel gear" page for the top pieces of gear on the market!

#6 Get the right fitting mask

It’s important to select the right mask for your outing because it is one of the essential tools to seeing what lies beneath the surface.  Go to your local dive shop and do the mask test when selecting.  Also make sure when you wear your mask in the water no hair sits between your skin and the skirt of the mask.  And for the fellas, if you have a mustache or beard wear the skirt of the mask so that it rests on the nose, then some vaseline should be placed as a seal on the stach’ to prevent water from seeping in. 

Girl snorkeling under water
Tips for Snorkeling

#7 Get rid of the protective film

After you purchase the correct fitting mask you are to remove the protective film that the manufacturers layer the tempered glass with.  The film contributes to the annoying mask fogging we get while snorkeling.  To remove the film you can use toothpaste or a lighter to remove the film.  Check out this tutorial on how to properly and safely remove the film with a lighter. 

#8 Get the snorkel which works best for you

Now when selecting a snorkel, do realize there are three different types of snorkels you can choose from?  The types of snorkels are j valve, dry and semi dry snorkels.  The J valve is a simple design where the snorkel is just a breach between you and the surface, this type is mostly used by spear fisherman and freedivers.  Dry snorkels prevent any water from entering the top of the snorkel but can sometimes be a bit clunky.  A semi dry snorkel is a splash guard at the top of the snorkel helping prevent big gulps of salt water from entering the snorkel.

#9 Find your fins

With choosing fins there are many fun styles to suit you.  The standard snorkel fin has a full foot pocket.  Make sure the footpocket is not to tight as if will be uncomfortable during your swim.  If you were to choose from other fins for snorkeling you could look at getting swim fins which are smaller or more compact.  There is also the option of freediving fins, which are longer than the standard snorkel fin and are good for conserving energy and covering ground.

#10 What more can you purchase to make life easier

You can most certainly snorkel without these items, but they make life so much easier.  And for your first time snorkeling you want to possibly purchase some mask defogger, that way you can see what your snorkeling above.  Also padded mask straps can be useful for the ladies with hair that may tangle in the mask strap.  Snorkel keepers sometimes come with a snorkel but if not just purchase a rubber one as they are typically under a dollar. 

#11 Dive buddies!

There’s always the best part about snorkeling which is finding a dive buddy!  See if any of your friends want to join! Or call your local dive shop to see if there is some sort of dive group you can be apart of.  There is also a fun site called Meetup that links you up with people and events that interest you like snorkeling.

#12 Check conditions

Now that you’ve got the gear and have educated yourself on the local beach, it’s time to check conditions for your ocean outing. You can do so by calling the Lifeguard which is associated with the beach your swimming at.  And for all beginners I always recommend choosing a spot that is overseen by people like our lifeguards who will employ safety procedures when someone is in danger.  

#13 Reef safe sunscreen

There are plenty of brands out there on the market that are reef safe.  In order to make sunscreen reef safe the chemical oxybenzone and octinoxate must not be present.  Try all natural mineral sunscreens such as Surf Durt.


#14 Pre Stretch and breathwork 

Even though snorkeling is a wonderful activity that’s gentle on our bodies, it’s still important to warm your ligaments up by stretching.  Also warm up your lungs by practicing some pre workout breathing techniques

#15 Pick you want to wade in the water

So there are two ways you can enter the water.  Once you have all of your gear on except your fins you can wade into the water and then put your fins on.  Or if that doesn’t suit you then you can try putting your fins on before entering the water and walking backwards as you wade in. 

#16 Practice Diving down

When you are out in the water check out your surroundings.  Try diving down and when you do remember to equalize to relieve any pressure if you have some in your sinuses.  You’ll notice it may be hard to stay down if your wearing a wetsuit.  That’s when you’ll need to consider grabbing a weight belt to help you with the buoyancy. 

#17 What do you see

Enjoy the snorkel and explore your new territory.  Make markers of what you see and try identifying any new marline life you encounter.  If you have a go pro or camera take some selfies and pictures of your new water world.   

#18 Take it to the next step

Now you are stoked on snorkeling so maybe checking out some Padi freediving courses would be something you would consider pursuing.  They hook you up the knowledge and skill set to dive deeper and longer with the assistance of professionals. 


#19 Report conditions 

To continue making new dive buddies look up local facebook dive groups and report the conditions you just saw.  It helps build a new network of dive buddies that can help your excursion through the sea. 

#20 Pick a new spot 

Keep it going! Look up new spots that make you eager to snorkel.  Plan trips around sites that intrigue you and you'll experience a whole new underwater world. 

Briana Smith