It’s February and that means that people are ramping up for their winter get-away to a tropical location. I feel ya’. No, I’m not one of those people because I’m already lucky to be living in Hawaii year round. That doesn’t mean that I don’t remember all of those cold, long winters in Massachusetts, though. When people ask me if I’ll stay in Hawaii forever I never commit but I do say that if I never have to rake another leaf or shovel anymore snow then I’ll be one happy guy.
Winter vacation time means tropical island destination. And besides lazing around the beach and soaking up rays it’s always a great opportunity to become better connected with the ocean in a more intimate way. You should definitely be considering a snorkeling excursion (or an entire vacation built around snorkeling, IMO) on your warm-weather, palm tree, 80 degree ocean water trips.
We’re here to help you pack for an awesome snorkeling trip when you finally manage to get away and enjoy your tropical destination!
So, first things first, right:
This is the stuff that you need. In our opinion, it is neither possible or HIGHLY dangerous or uncomfortable to attempt to snorkel without the below equipment.
There are tons of snorkel sets out there right now. From cheap to affordable to awesomely awesome. The full face snorkel masks are a big hit and have been for about 5 years now. The only thing that we want to stress here is that you get what you pay for. A good snorkel set should run you about $40 to $50 with a $10 deviation either way. However, if you’re buying snorkel equipment for $20 then you shouldn’t exp+96ect a great performance out of it. Likewise, if you buy an expensive set then know that it’s going to last a while and be great but how much are you going to use it? Are you an “avid snorkeler”? If so, you must live in a spot that supports a nice tropical climate that allows you to snorkel most of the year.
Also, remember that travel sets are smaller and pack easier…and you can get really good use out of them. Sets with larger, longer and standard blade fine are going to need some thought when packing. I like to strap my set to the outside of my backpack when I’m going snorkeling for the day or even on a flight (like to another Island) because it’s easy to carry it on.
Here are our picks for some of the best snorkel sets that you can get and travel with this year:
…and full face snorkel masks:
Pay attention to this! Most of the sets that are for sale will brag that it comes with a “carry bag” but most of them are junk; cheap plastic and mesh bags with a zipper that is sure to break with a little bit of wear. Instead, you should probably opt to get a bag that is separate from the one that the set comes with. Don’t get us wrong: There are some sets out there with perfectly fine gear bags. Personally, though, I like to invest some money in a bag that is not only perfectly suitable for my snorkel gear but also has the capacity to hold some water, snacks, beach towel, mask defogger, camera, cell phone, keys, wallet…and more.
Here are a few options for snorkel gear bags:
Yup! You need it. There are some other options that will protect your skin like rash guards with built in SPF (we’ll talk more about those below) but you still need to have a good sunscreen with a high SPF to protect yourself from the sun. If you’re feeling particularly green and caring (which we hope you are) then we highly recommend a coral safe and marine life safe sunscreen. You can find these pretty easy with simple search on Amazon for “coral safe sunscreens“.
What’s the Right Level of SPF?
Also, sunglasses are included in sunscreen. Don’t just wear them to look cool…even though you might! Sunglasses really protect your eyes from UV rays and will ensure that you have long lasting eye sight and health for a long time coming. What do we recommend? We really like the Rheos sunglass line. They float and they’re affordable.
You should never do any kind of outdoor activity without being properly hydrated and drinking water (or a sports drink) throughout the activity. In this case, out in the sun and in hot weather, then drinking water and staying hydrated is very, very important. The sun will dehydrate you. Your activity will dehydrate you. The salt water will dehydrate you. You need water. Plain and simple. A few bottles work great but below we recommend a HydroFlask or a similarly operating and functioning item.
5 Important things to Pack for Your Snorkel Trip:
Moving down in the importance factor, a bit, we have the “great to have” types of items. Why are these less important? Well, you could safely snorkel without these items but they make your time on the water, beach, and shore a lot more comfortable to have these. I actually debated whether I should put HydroFlask in the “essentials” area but I really just think you need water and not necessarily a fancy bottle…but…it does make it better.
So, some people might want to actually put this into the “essential” category but not me. Sure, it is great to have, but they’re not essential. A little bit of spit works well, too. If you’re renting gear then you can definitely use defogger, though. Keep in mind that you can use children’s shampoo for the same thing. The reason we use children’s is because it’s easier on the eyes. And, yes, regular shampoo and dish washing liquid do the same.
Two (2) Bottles of Scuba Snorkel MASK Defogger
Depending on where you’re snorkeling, it may not be just sandy white beaches. In fact, many of the best places in the world to snorkel are full of rocks and coral because that’s where reef fish make their homes and eat, as well as the sea turtles. Water shoes not only protect your feet from hurting on rocks and coral and preventing cuts…they also help with traction and avoiding slipping and hurting more than just your feet. So, while not totally vital to snorkeling but it helps the comfort and safety level a bit. Try visiting a spot like Honaunau on the Big Island of Hawaii and tell me that water shoes don’t make a difference.
Well, duh! Yeah, you’re going to need to dry off and have something lay down on in between you and the ground. More than that, after being in even the warmest of tropical waters it still seeps the warmth out of you. Being able to snuggle into a nice, warm, gigantic beach towel (and sometimes a sweatshirt) can really hit the spot.
Water is vital (see above) and nothing makes water feel better on a hot day than it being ice cold. A HydroFlask can keep water cold-to-cool for up to 24 hours. Beyond that, you can keep coffee hot, juice cold, water icy, etc. It really helps clean and refresh the mouth after a few swallows of sea water, as well.
Lots of activity and you’re going to need water and food. So, what goes great on the beach? Well, nothing that melts, obviously, but cereal bars, little bags of chips, etc…they work great. If you have a cooler than you can actually pack a lunch but if you’re trying to fit everything into one bag then smaller, snacks are great.
5 Great to Have BUT Luxury Items:
Yes, it’s a luxury item. Some people love to take photos of what they see under the water. And let’s face it, getting a shot of yourself with a turtle is one of the best things that you can have in your memory, let alone kept forever on your computer or in a photo album. Whether you have a $500 GoPro or a $100 Nikon then having an underwater camera can really go a long way and have a blast on your next snorkel trip.
Best Cheap Underwater Cameras for Great Underwater Photos
Reef Fish Chart:
This could really be fun! Knowing what fish you’re looking at can be awesome fun. Better yet, let’s make a game of it and challenge your spouse, kids, or significant other to see as many fish on the chart as possible and then learn even more about them. Put all of those smart tools that are connected to the internet to use for something great other than texting.
Beach Tent or Cover:
Beach tents are great to have and can keep you the most comfortable. It can also help to keep delicate human skin in the shade as well as coolers with perishables that much cooler and out of direct sunlight. Most of them are pretty affordable and can be had for less than $50.
Beach Tent Guide and Recommended Products
I love to sit on the beach and scope out the surface of the water for flipping fish and turtles on the surface getting a breath of air. Other than that, binoculars have lots of pretty sensible funcitons: keeping an eye on loved ones in the water, enjoying the site of windsurfers, kite surfers a lot closer. Plus, it’s fun to just people watch sometimes as well