10 Tips To Follow When Snorkeling With Children

Snorkeling with kids can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to take precautions to keep everyone safe. By following this summary prepared by experienced snorkelers, you can help ensure that everyone has a comfortable time while exploring the beauty of the sea.

Make sure the kid is of age

It is a frequently asked question “How old should a child be to snorkel”. Well, there’s no specific age to start snorkeling. However, it’s always good to have your kids already comfortable in the water. Generally, a five-year-old kid can handle the experience without any problems ensuring good physical development.

5 year old boy goes snorkeling

Choose the right gear

When you decide to take your kids snorkeling, it is critical to select the proper gear to keep them safe and comfortable in the water. When choosing snorkeling equipment for children, keep the following factors in mind:

Mask

There are two types of snorkel masks: full face and traditional. While many people think that the nowadays popular full face masks are ideal for children because they provide a wider field of view and keep the snorkeler’s face dry, they may cause breathing difficulties when not used correctly so we recommend sticking to a traditional mask  because it is safer to use.

small boy wearing a blue snorkel mask

Indeed, classical snorkel goggles require the snorkeler to clear the water out of the mask more often, but kids learn the technique quickly.

Snorkel

Kids snorkels  are specially designed to fit the little ones’ mouth; they are shorter in length and have a smaller mouthpiece. Usually, they are semi-dry or dry.

little kid underwater using a snorkel tube

Semi-dry models allow a small amount of water to enter the snorkel when submerged, while dry snorkels feature a top-closing mechanism to prevent water from entering the snorkel, so better to choose a dry one. It is also crucial that your child learns how to clear the snorkel if water gets in the tube.

Fins

There are two types of fins: full foot and open heel. Full foot fins are easier to use because they do not require straps to stay on their feet, but fit only between certain shoe sizes.

girl snorkeling in shallow water with fins

Therefore, open heel fins  are a better option for children because such models are adjustable so they won’t outgrow them that quickly. The important is to choose a model that is comfortable but provides enough mobility and power for navigating in the water.

Tip: Buying a kids snorkel set  that includes mask, snorkel and fins is the best solution if your kid needs complete gear.

Teach them the right technique

Snorkeling with kids can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but keep in mind that safety should always be your top priority. Before heading out to the water, you will want to ensure that they get some training on how to use their equipment.

little girl is practicing snorkeling in the pool

There are many kinds of places where your children can learn the right way to put on the equipment, how to hold their breath, clear water from the snorkel, and breathe through their mouth or nose. Find a trainer near your home, contact a marine park, or ask a local business, such as a diving shop.

Also, you can even practice with them in your home pool if you have any. Make sure they fully grasp all the swimming skills and are confident in the water, and only then can they head out on a real snorkeling adventure.

Find a kid-friendly vacation destination

Choosing the destination is one of the most crucial steps when planning a family vacation. If you pick up a kid-friendly one where the conditions are ideal for snorkeling, your children can safely discover the ocean and its creatures.

people snorkeling in shallow clear water

When deciding on where to go, make your research. The destination should have shallow, current-free waters to allow your kids to become accustomed to the sensation of snorkeling before venturing into deeper waters.

If possible, stay at a hotel where the beach has lifeguards on duty; they can spot potential hazards and warn the public before they become life-threatening. Many resorts provide life jackets and other safety equipment for snorkeling; check this in advance so you do not need to carry such things.

Use a vest or flotation device

When snorkeling with kids, make them use an inflatable vest that adds extra safety. Although, it is not life-saving equipment but a safety accessory to keep them afloat in case they are not fully confident in the water or when they get tired.

child wearing a blue snorkel vest

Choose a snorkeling vest that has enough lifting capacity and is comfortable. A too-tight vest can be uncomfortable and restricting, whereas a too-loose vest can allow your child to slip out and drown.

Rrtizan Children Portable Inflatable Life Jacket Snorkel Vest

  • provides enough buoyancy while snorkeling for kids, give more confident and safety to explore in the water
  • fast inflation and deflation; adjustable waist and crotch straps to fit the body comfortably
  • lightweight and durable, made of canvas material

Educate them about marine life

One of the best ways to ensure a safe snorkeling experience with children is to teach them about marine life. Before you head out into the water, take time to educate them about the creatures that they may encounter. Read marine life books together! This will assist them in identifying any animals that may pose a threat, such as a jellyfish or a poisonous fish.

Ensure they know the reef etiquette

It’s also important to teach your children how to snorkel in a responsible, eco-friendly way. Younger generations are the seeds of a fruitful future so make sure to show them that this fantastic beach activity can be done without causing any damage to the sensitive underwater ecosystem.

two snorkelers with a sea turtle

Also, teach your kids that they should not touch anything underwater unless necessary, not chase marine animals and last but not least, not leave any garbage behind.

Show them how to pick the best time to snorkel

Near the ocean, the weather is constantly changing and so is the water, which means the conditions are not always ideal for discovering the ocean. Most people are heading to the sea when it is sunny and the sea is calm, but in fact, there are many other conditions to consider in order to determine when the best time to go snorkeling is.

high waves on the ocean

To ensure their safety, teach your kids what conditions to check before going to snorkel and what to do if they get caught in a Rip current. The signs of a forming storm or changing tide may be obvious for those who spend time in such environments often, but beginner snorkelers may end up in dangerous situations.

Never let them snorkel alone

One of the most essential snorkeling safety rules is to always have a buddy and it is especially important if it comes to kids. Younger children, who frequently do not have good swimming skills and may panic if something goes wrong, should never snorkel alone.

Think about sun and thermal protection

Kids have sensitive skin that is more prone to damage than adult’s skin, therefore it is crucial to protect it while snorkeling. Common sunscreens contain ingredients that are harmful to marine life, so if using one, it should be reef-safe and biodegradable.

family snorkeling in wetsuit

What is better and more comfortable if your kids wear UV protective clothing (rash guard) that guarantees consistent, high-level protection not only against the sun, but also against stingers. Depending on the location, a wetsuit may be also needed which helps stay warm even if the water is cold.

Do not snorkel when feeling unwell

To ensure a safe and enjoyable snorkeling experience for your children, they should be physically fit and healthy before entering the water.

adults and children snorkeling

Swimming in open water can be physically demanding, and if your little one isn’t feeling well, the adventure can quickly turn into a frustrating and dangerous situation. If your child has a cold, a sunburn, or any other injury or illness that may impair their ability to swim and stay safe in the water, it is best to wait until they feel better.

Also, make sure that your children will be energized throughout the snorkeling experience. Let them eat light but nutritious meals and salads with chicken or wholemeal pasta with vegetables. Such foods provide energy for swimming while minimizing any digestive discomfort they may experience while in the water.

In conclusion, snorkeling with children can be a great experience if you prepare and take the necessary precautions. By following the tips above, you can help ensure that all your family members have a safe and enjoyable outing.

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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!