Snorkeling is one of the most relaxing and easy way to enjoy the wonders and beauty that the ocean has to offer. You can explore your local beaches, reefs, shallow shipwrecks, and it opens up a whole other world of travel activities during your holidays. We love to snorkel with the Cape Fur Seals and know that a lot of people have never snorkeled before, but absolutely loved the experience.
What do you need?
The first thing you’ll need to get you started is some well-fitting and most importantly, comfortable equipment. This list of equipment is not an expensive one, and is fun and easy for the whole family to get involved. The gear that you will require will be a Dive Mask, Snorkel, and Fins. There are a few other optional things to get you going which we will also cover.
Mask & Snorkel
A Dive Mask is essential to allow a layer of air to be trapped between your eyes and the water, enabling you to clearly see all the wonders around you. It is recommended that the mask have a built in nose pocket, which not only stops water from going up your nose, but also allows you to equalise your mask if you wish to dive down. This is the reason why SCUBA divers always use this type of mask. To test if the mask will leak, you can put the mask on your face, leaving the strap off your head, and suck air in through your nose. If the mask doesn’t stick firmly and comfortably to your face, there may be air leaking in somewhere. Try a different shape mask. The mask should fit snugly, and comfortably, making your snorkeling experience a much better one. The snorkel will help keep your eyes on the creatures below, allowing you to breath easily. There are many different snorkels with vents and one way valves to help keep water out, or to help clear the snorkel, but the most important feature on any snorkel is comfort. Speak with your local dive shops to find out what options are available.
Hint: If you purchase a brand new Mask, it is essential to wash the inside lens with a small amount of tooth paste. This will remove any oil residue from the manufacturing process, which will make the mask fog no matter how much Antifog you may apply.
This piece of equipment is going to make you waddle like a duck on land, but will make you swim like a fish in the water. A good set of fins will take the strain out of moving through the water, and will let you explore much further on the reefs. Depending on where you may be snorkeling, there are two types of fins, Closed Heel and Open Heel. If the waters are chilly like during our Seal Snorkeling trips, you will want to get yourself a set of Booties. The Open Heel fins will fit over the front of the booty, with the strap going around the heel. In warmer waters, a set of booties isn’t needed, and the Closed Heel fins do the job fantastically. The fins shouldn’t be too tight, as that will make your feet cramp, but should fit comfortably without slipping off.
Depending on where you may be snorkeling, some sort of wetsuit may be necessary. When we are taking our guests out snorkeling with the seals, the water temperature is usually about 10˚C and we supply everyone with a set of nice 5mm thick Wetsuits, with built in hoods, to help keep the cold out. If your snorkeling spot is somewhat warmer, a simple surfing wetsuit may do the trick. You may want to consult your local dive shop for advice on what sort of wetsuit may be suitable for the area.
What else could you need?
If you’re not too comfortable in the water, a Snorkeling Vest will help keep you afloat. For the seasoned more adventurous snorkeler who would like to try exploring a little bit deeper, a weight belt will help counter act some of your buoyancy. It is important to never overweight yourself as this will cause to you to extremely tired while trying to stay on the surface. Remember, this is a relaxed sport, you’ll never want to be tired. You may see some wonderful sights along your snorkel adventures and a decent waterproof camera is always a very nice accessory. Some people like to take a torch along to shine under ledges, you never know what wonderful creature you may find sleeping away.
In Part 2, we will go through the basics on how to use the gear and what to do out there.