Safe snorkeling – 10 tips for your safety and comfort

What does safe snorkeling mean for you? We believe that snorkeling is a great experience that can be enjoyed by the whole family and absolutely safe if you follow some rules and instructions. Let us help you with 10 snorkeling safety tips on how to minimize the chance of discomfort or water accidents, and make the most of your beach holidays!

Safe snorkeling guide – 10 tips to follow

Snorkeling is an easy and fun holiday activity that can be enjoyed by young and old. There is no qualification needed meaning everybody in good physical condition who can swim can snorkel too. But since you will be out on open water, you need to pay attention to some important snorkeling safety tips and rules.

10 Snorkeling Safety Tips Infographic, Snorkeling Guide

Be confident in the water

Learn to swim and snorkel well! Snorkeling is an easy sport, you can learn “how-to-snorkel” in a very short time. If you are a weak swimmer, wear an extra snorkel vest for your safety.

For open water snorkeling carry a highly visible swim buoy. It makes you noticeable for your snorkel buddy and other people in the ocean. Boats passing nearby will spot you easily as well as you can rest on this flotation buoy if feeling tired. Snorkel vest and swimming buoy are basic snorkeling safety equipment that should be always part of your snorkel gear.

Buy good quality snorkel equipment and learn to use it

Do not spare on your gear, buy good products from trusted manufacturers. Having well-made snorkel gear is crucial or safe snorkeling holidays. Bad items might break in the most unexpected moments, so do not risk ruining your snorkel trip because of a leaking mask or damaged fins.

Spend time on selecting the right masksnorkel and snorkeling fins and learn to use them properly. If you are planning to buy Easybreath type mask make sure to read about Full Face Mask safety!

Find a snorkel buddy, do not snorkel alone

If your family or your partner is also keen on the underwater world, it is not a problem to find a buddy and organize safe snorkeling trips together. But if you are alone, try to join a group or find a buddy in your hotel/on the beach. Unexpected emergency situations could happen to everyone, so it is better if you could help each other. And of course, the fun is bigger when it is shared!

two persons are snorkeling
Never snorkel alone!

Should you go out alone though, stay close to shore within sight. A useful snorkeling safety tip is to take your phone with you in a waterproof phone bag so you can call help in case of an emergency.

JOTO Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch

  • universal phone dry bag up to 6.8 inch diagonal size
  • clear window (front and back)
  • IP68 rate - protection up to 100ft/30m
  • secure snap and lock closing system

Rest after eating

Do not go snorkeling when your tummy is full. The waves and accidentally drinking salt water may upset your stomach resulting in discomfort and feel of sickness. Eat light but nutrient-rich food like fruits, vegetables, salads with chicken or wholemeal pasta which will give you energy for swimming.

Author’s note: If you have any food allergies, make sure to pack some snacks you can eat during the day since gluten- and dairy-free options may not be easy to get at the beach. Bring nuts, fruits, sliced veggies with hummus and some gluten free protein bars; they are portable, tasty and will provide you with energy for the day!

Stay hydrated but say no to alcohol

Did you attend a hard party last night and drink too much? Then better if you stay on the shore and let your body regenerate. Swimming under the impact of alcohol can lead to dangerous situations. Plan ahead what you want to do, chilling out snipping cocktails or having a safe snorkeling day.

person holding a young coconut on the beach
Drink only water and natural juices before snorkeling – The best choice is a Young Coconut!

On the other side, being hydrated is important, especially while on holiday when you stay long hours outside in the sun not just sitting in an air-conditioned office. Drink a lot of water and/or no-sugar-added juices.

Be fit and healthy

If you feel yourself not 100 % fit, have a cold, or got sunstroke, wait until you are healthy again. If there is a strong current or you swim too far from your entry point, you will need a lot of energy to return to your beach. Remember, a safe snorkeling session starts with your well-being!

Protect your skin

Protecting your skin against sun rays is a snorkeling safety tip that unfortunately people use to skip. Sunburn could be not only painful but also dangerous. Instead of applying sunblock that contains chemicals and can harm marine life the best is if you wear UV protective rash guard.

Man is snorkeling in UV T-shirt
When snorkeling, wear UV protective clothing!

A high elasticity swimming shirt or suit provides 50+ UV protection and helps avoid getting stung by a jellyfish. There are different types of rash guards from different manufacturers (short and long sleeve shirts, pants and full suits and there are specific stinger suits too). If you don’t want to stop using sunblock, make sure to buy a coral reef safe sunscreen!

Stay close to the shore/reef

If there is a „designated snorkel area” stay inside and you can spend safe snorkeling hours in the water. Staying within the buoy line means that the area is not only safe to swim but also boat-free.

Group of snorkelers in the water
Stay close to the shore/reef when snorkeling!

If there is no sign where to snorkel, ask the locals about the conditions, currents and things to see. Before you go snorkeling, check the entry and possible exit points, and make a plan where can you come out of the water if you feel tired or not well, or do not have the energy to swim back to the point where you entered.

Check the weather/marine weather forecast

Conditions on the sea can change just in seconds, wind, waves and currents can be extremely strong in a short time. If the weather is nice in the morning it might be stormy in the afternoon, especially in the tropics.

Storm at the sea
Never snorkel when the weather is bad!

Always check the weather forecast before heading to the beach! Take beach warning flags seriously and follow lifeguards’ instructions. For safe snorkeling, learn how to recognize rip currents and how to escape if getting caught.

Never touch the corals/marine life

Last but not least, the most important snorkeling safety rule: respect the underwater world! do not touch corals or chase sea creatures! Not only because touching them is not nice but also because some species are toxic and stinging such as fire coral, pufferfish, lionfish, scorpion fish, some sea star species etc…

Fire coral in the Red Sea
Touching Fire coral causes a burning sensation

Skin contact with poisonous species can cause severe allergic reactions, in worst cases, you can end up in hospital. Keep a safe distance from marine life! If you must stand in the water, search for a sandy place or a big stone, never stand on corals!

If you like our snorkeling safety tips, share them with your friends! We wish you safe snorkeling holidays!

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10 snorkeling safety tips

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Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!