Perhaps you have seen those television shows featuring underwater shots and you felt excited about the thought of being able to do so on your own. However, diving is not for you, just yet. Does it mean that you can let go of your dream of seeing the beauty down below? Well, you can learn how to snorkel.
Snorkeling is the best alternative water activity to actual diving. For one, you do not need a license in order to enjoy the activity. If you are planning to eventually be able to dive, starting out with snorkeling is a good idea.
To beginners, however, even the concept of snorkeling may be quite challenging to grasp. What is it? Well, snorkeling is the term given to a water activity that allows a person to freely observe life underwater for a good amount of time.
In order to do so, snorkeling equipment is needed, which includes a diving mask, a snorkel, and a pair of flippers or fins which helps in staying afloat. In areas where the temperature is low, you may use a wetsuit. However, this activity is best done in summer when the waters are calm and warm.
All in all, snorkeling is safe. This is because there is no need for you to go down deep just like when diving in order to see all the beauty underwater. Also, since you are just in the surface, with a snorkel, there is no need to hold your breath to enjoy the activity.
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Snorkeling is oftentimes confused with other water activities such as skin diving and free diving. However, there are some factors that makes them different from one another. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
Snorkeling is done by floating right on the surface of the water while using a mask to see what’s underneath the water. A snorkel is used for breathing as the face stays submerged, with a pair of flippers or fins to aid in swimming.
In terms of popularity, snorkeling is the most commonly performed water activity by water lovers. As a matter of fact, thousands of snorkelers all over the world enjoy this activity in various locations.
One reason for this is that you only need to prepare the equipment for the activity and you are good to go! In fact, you do not need to have a license to enjoy this activity, unlike the more complicated forms of diving.
Most beach resorts offer snorkeling activities to their guests. While diving may require you to undergo briefing from professional divers, snorkeling can be learned by being exposed to the activity. One thing is needed though in order to be successful: you need to at least, know how to swim, or stay floating on water.
If not, you can wear a floatation device, or a lifejacket to still be able to enjoy snorkeling, though it might limit your movements in doing so. Once you get the hang of it, snorkeling is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by any age.
Skin diving is a water activity that is quite similar to snorkeling, with the addition of swimming and submerging underwater. Just a note, the term ‘skin diving’ is pretty much of an old term, which may not be used by some water lovers out there. The concept stays familiar, though.
As such, skin diving allows for a closer encounter with creatures underneath. The equipment needed for skin diving includes a snorkel, which is used when floating on the surface, as well as diving equipment, including diving fins and mask.
Since there is a need to submerge into water, there may be a need to use a wet suit and a weight belt for this activity. It is entirely up to the diver’s discretion on the choice of equipment to be used in this activity.
While snorkeling and skin diving are similar, the most obvious difference lies in between the need to hold breath. With snorkeling, a snorkel is used; thus, there is no need to hold breath while floating and observing the beauty below.
On the other hand, skin diving requires the need to make breath hold dives in order to go down below and observe underwater life. Most often, this requires some briefing in the form of a course. Also, you need to have adequate swimming skills, while feeling comfortable in the water.
Free diving refers to the kind of diving that we usually know. This kind of activity involves the divers to use techniques in inhaling as much air as needed, using as little oxygen possible underwater. Other techniques may include vertical swimming for deep diving, or horizontal swimming to stay a long time underneath.
Compared to skin diving, the masks that are used for free diving are lower in volume, pretty much same with that of swimming goggles. Even the fins are longer compared to diving fins. In fact, there are some who uses monofins, or those in which both feet are inserted in a single fin.
With free diving, a snorkel is not typically used, because the aim of this type of diving is to stay as long as possible underneath. Re-oxygenating happens when the diver appears on the surface.
After discussing the details of the differences, maybe you are still confused with the entire concept. You may want to remember it this way: snorkeling happens only on the surface, skin diving is the middle type, serving as a combination of both snorkeling and free diving. The latter, on the other hand, happens underneath the water surface.
At this point, you may have already been convinced that snorkeling is one of the best ways in which you can explore the beauty of the world underwater. This is done in a way that you do not have to ever leave the water surface.
However, little you may know of the advantages that it offers aside from being pleasing to the eyes. Let’s consider the advantages of snorkeling.
When snorkeling, the heart rate increases, thus strengthening the muscles of the heart. This improved fitness is a great way to avoid the risks of developing health problems including heart failure, coronary heart diseases, high cholesterol, as well as high blood pressure.
Different forms of exercises, snorkeling included, is known to help in relieving anxiety and stress. Since there is a need to control breathing through the mouth, your body is implementing techniques that are similar to meditative forms of exercises which calms and relaxes the body. Regular snorkeling can help you feel at ease and relaxed.
As a water based activity, snorkeling offers a health form of exercise which can be beneficial to those who are suffering from issues such as stiffness, obesity, as well as joint pains. It also significantly reduces impact that is often connected with other types of cardiovascular activities such as jogging and walking.
Snorkeling, as a form of cardiovascular exercise, is known to release certain chemicals known as endorphins which in turn, works in elevating mood levels. This is achieved when snorkelers have to make it a habit controlling their breathing in a particular rhythm that is similar to other types of meditation, thus promoting calmness and overall relaxation of the body.
This has something to do with the impact of water buoyancy on the body. It eases stiffness and joint pains, improving endurance and flexibility. Swimming alone is a recommended activity for those who are dealing with issues such as rheumatoid arthritis and limited mobility. With the use of a mask and snorkel, those who suffer from arthritis limit movements that causes pain, sticking to a valuable exercise routine.
The use of a snorkel during training can result to amazing improvements in just a short period of time. Snorkels that are front mounted enable swimmers to work on their body posture. Aside from learning the activity as a potential sport, it can also help in building leg and lung strength which is good for the body.
While your hectic schedule may disconnect you from nature for quite some time, snorkeling will lead you back to it. Snorkeling will open your mind to the most colorful and amazing creatures on earth. You can observe their natural habitat, while looking at their behavior. This activity is not just rewarding, but also satisfying because you are learning something out of it.
As a beginner, you may feel hesitation in knowing that others may have already been way ahead of you in this activity. However, unlike diving lessons where you need proper briefing and training, snorkeling is an activity that can be learned right then and there.
However, in order to make the most out of the snorkeling experience, there are some tips that you may want to take into consideration. They include the following:
If you are still a beginner, it would be wise not to explore in areas where a strong current is expected. You can start with locations that has calm waters. It is also not good to snorkel in places with strong waves because it only requires you to put more effort in moving around and staying afloat.
Most seasoned snorkelers recommend starting at a safe beach. Select a particular area where you can expect a lot of beautiful things underneath. You would not want to snorkel in areas with barren reef, since you will not literally see anything there.
The main concept behind snorkeling is to float along. Unlike swimming where you have to move your body in order to move from one place to another, snorkeling only needs you to stay floating on the water surface.
Therefore, it is best to avoid the urge to swim. In fact, you can just fold your arms across your chest so that you can easily glide, float, or allow yourself to be guided using the fins. If you need to move around, swim at a specific pace which will just allow you to enjoy breathing normally.
One gauge to this is that if you are no longer feeling comfortable, being out of breath, or moving along with arms rapidly moving, you may be doing something that is wrong. If you feel that swimming is not your forte, you can use a floater/swimmer, or a life jacket to help you stay floating.
Despite feeling confident at first try, it is still recommended to snorkel together with a buddy, preferably someone who has more experience with this type of activity. Remember that you are out there in the open sea, a place where anything can happen, affected by factors such as sharp reefs, currents, and of course, animals living in it.
The moment you start your exploration, your emotions may get in the way and you end up touching everything that you see. Keep in mind that you are not familiar with the creatures underwater. Even a fish that is harmless looking can be dangerous. Some animals may look cute, but they can be deadly when touched. This is their form of defense.
Also, when snorkeling over coral reefs, touching may damage them. Just control yourself and keep your hands all to yourself. If you happen to touch something and end up damaging it, you may no longer be living to see its restoration again. It may never be restored at all too.
Remember this: you are snorkeling because you want to relax and enjoy the experience. You are not doing so because you are joining a competition of some sort. Therefore, there is no need to compare yourself with that of other snorkelers, or pressure yourself to do best at first try.
At the same time, it is very important to just relax while floating. For a beginner, panicking may do no good. You are there to enjoy the beauty of nature. Just relax, and enjoy the entire experience. Most of the time, choosing the best location for snorkeling is the key in order to getting the most out of the activity.
Now, to get started, it is time to choose the right snorkeling equipment. The following are some of the essential equipment that you need to prepare, and some guide on how to choose them:
Generally, snorkels are available in three styles: lower purge valves, simple tubes and dry top snorkels. Professional divers typically choose simple tubes. This is recommended for them because they already know how to control airway as water may enter the snorkel. A good snorkel is one that comes with a purge valve. This can help in having clearance, thus making the experience easier.
Since snorkeling is the activity that you want to focus on, it is recommended to use full foot fins. They are preferable over adjustable fins as the latter may require boots for wearing. Remember to get the right size for you, unless you are willing to snorkel uncomfortably without a problem.
A good fin is one that allows you to easily pass through water, thus letting you glide and enjoy the experience even better.
There are also other accessories that you might want to prepare. The addition of these accessories entirely depends on your familiarity with water, as well as your purpose in snorkeling.
These extra accessories include a wetsuit, which comes in handy for temperature balancing, a floatation device, especially if you are not good at it, as well as a snorkel vest bag, which is perfect for storage of your camera and other personal items.
Eventually, as you become more and more experienced in snorkeling, you can learn more about other equipment that will bring the experience to a higher level. As a beginner, however, choosing a good snorkel and fins will do. Make sure that you choose the right ones in order to make the most out of the experience.
Snorkeling, indeed, is an activity that will make you become satisfied and be reconnected with nature. By choosing the right location, selecting the right equipment, and having the needed knowledge at hand, now you are ready to start on your first ever snorkeling adventure.
It is highly recommended to seek assistance from other seasoned snorkelers so that you can get some tips from them. You may also want to educate yourself by reading guide books. And of course, experience is the best teacher. You can never learn how to snorkel if you don’t try it yourself!