Look, we’ve said it a million times and we’ll say it again – snorkelling is one of the most exciting, beautiful, relaxing, and breathtaking activities you can do. Whether you’re in the water for an hour or three hours, it doesn’t matter, you’ll always come out feeling great and alive. If you’re a first-time snorkeller, use these words as your mantra.
It’s not uncommon for beginners and first-timers to feel afraid, anxious, and worried in the water, and reminding yourself of the fact that loads of people around the world relish in this activity every day should help ease those feelings. That can only help so much, though, so we’ve created this handy little guide for first-time snorkellers and beginners.
8 tips that’ll have you tackling your first time snorkelling like you’ve been doing it your whole life
The most important thing, as with being a beginner at any activity, is to stay confident. Don’t take this as an opportunity to see yourself as a weak, unskilled beginner. Nuh-uh. This is all about you facing your fears head-on, being strong, powerful, and killin’ it. So let’s go.
1. Get gear that fits right
No point snorkelling with crappy gear. We wouldn’t advise it, nobody would advise it. Just like going for your first drive in a crappy old manual from the 70s, heading out snorkelling in less-than-brilliant gear isn’t a great idea.
Give yourself confidence while out at sea – and more importantly, make sure you stay comfortable – by investing in quality gear that’ll make snorkelling relaxing and not a pain in the arse. You want a mask and snorkels that aren’t too loose – so that water doesn’t seep in – and not too tight either, so you don’t get a crazy headache.
Plus, getting new gear is always an exciting way to approach a new activity. You’ve got your fancy new snorkelling mask and fins, maybe an underwater bag to keep your belongings too, why not go for a brand new towel as well… now you’re ready to snorkel!
2. Practice makes perfect
Before you get all confident and run into the ocean, take some time to practice with your new gear first. Do it close to the shore in case anything goes wrong, and with a buddy present if you’re able. Practice breathing in your new mask until you’re confident and comfortable doing it. Have a few kicks in your new fins and make sure you get a good handle on how to use them properly so your legs don’t ache. After a ten minute practice session close to shore, you should be well and ready to hit the sea!
3. Make sure you’re comfortable
Not super confident in your swimming skills? Make sure you head out snorkelling with a life jacket. You’ll feel safe in the knowledge that you’ll always stay above the surface of the water, letting your mind rest easy and enjoy your snorkelling experience.
Tend to get cold quickly, or scared of jellyfish? Invest in a good snorkelling suit that’ll keep you nice and warm in those cold open waters. It’s essential to keep yourself comfortable and your mind at ease on your first few snorkel trips, and being cold ain’t gonna help the cause. A snorkel suit will also keep your body safe from jellyfish and other sea critters, so you can stop being paranoid about stings and enjoy the sea life.
4. Stay calm, and breathe
Don’t let your thoughts get the best of you. The best thing about snorkelling is the fact that you’re removed from your reality and thrust into a whole new world, away from all the commotion and anxieties of life. Use this to your advantage. If you find your thoughts are getting stressful, your mind is racing, or you’re feeling generally uncomfortable and anxious, focus on your breathing.
Feel the expansion and contraction of your lungs, and stay calm. Feel the sun on your back, watch it reflecting in the water, and let yourself be at ease. Just like any other first-time, snorkelling can still be scary even with all the right gear. The best way to get yourself through the fears is by focusing on the breath and all the beautiful scenery around you. Mind off, senses engaged!
5. Take a buddy
Everything is way more fun when someone else is enjoying the ride with you. If you’re able to take a buddy snorkelling with you, then you’ll have the added confidence of knowing someone is looking out for you, as well as the bonus of companionship.
Whether your snorkel buddy is a professional or a first-timer like you, it doesn’t matter. If they’re a pro then they can help you out, ease your mind, and guide you, and if they’re a first-timer then you can egg each other on, help each other out, and just generally enjoy the exhilarating ride together.
6. Check yourself and your body
Most first-time snorkellers aren’t quite acquainted with reef life and don’t realise that damaging corals is bad form and can even be illegal in some places. A snorkelling adventure isn’t your average, day-to-day splashing about in a pool having a good time. You can’t just let your limbs thrust around and do what you like.
Rather, you have to be aware of your movements, where your arms and legs are going, being careful to avoid touching the reef life. You also don’t want to disturb the water around other snorkellers close to you, so it’s important to be mindful of your movements and their ensuing reactions.
7. Don’t overdo it
So, you’re super excited to head out on your first snorkelling adventure, but when you get to the beach the water is looking a little murky and the waves a little choppy. As disappointing as that is, don’t decide that you want to snorkel and just go for it anyway. Know when conditions are rough, and know your own limitations when it comes to snorkelling. As much as you’d love to head out there in those choppy waters, it’s probably not a good idea as a first-timer. Enjoy the beach from the shore, and go snorkelling another time.
That said, if you’re snorkelling with a partner and suddenly find yourself feeling tired, cold, or afraid, don’t feel that you have to keep going in order to please your buddy or look ‘tougher’. Ensure you have a plan beforehand that if you get lost, to meet up at a certain time somewhere on the beach. It’s never a good idea to keep going for the sake of someone else, and know that when it’s time to stop, that’s completely okay.
8. Don’t undereat, overeat, or drink alcohol
Some people tend to get a seasick feeling when floating on the surface of the water as in snorkelling. For that reason, make sure to not head out snorkelling on an empty stomach or after eating massive amounts of food. You don’t want to feel sick, and you don’t want to upset your tummy. While we’re at it, avoid drinking alcohol or taking other substances beforehand. You want a clear mind, with good judgement. Have the beers when you’re back.
Remember: snorkelling is not hard. Kids are doing it, old people are doing it. People are feeling nervous and facing their fears head on and doing it. You can, too. The most important thing is to be relaxed, confident, comfortable, and well acquainted with the tips above. Happy snorkelling!