Our answer to this question is: Not for the places where we snorkel.
If you’re snorkeling in tropical areas such as the Maldives, Hawaii, Bahamas, etc, then you will not usually need a wetsuit.
The only time that we have ever worn a wetsuit while snorkeling is when we went on snorkel tours; one a dolphin/turtle/snorkel tour off of Oahu and the second was our night snorkel with the Manta Rays on the Big Island.
Usually you will not see people wearing wet suits while simply snorkeling. And in the case of the two tours that we did above, they were supplied by the tour company…more for the experience from what I gathered…but maybe not…
I was just reading a TripAdvisor forum thread and someone mentioned that it is regulation of the US Navy that anyone in water below 86 degrees for an hour or longer wear a wetsuit.
Again, do you need a wetsuit? I feel no. Not for the tropics. Now, if you’re snorkeling in, say Massachusetts, then yes. Probably very much so.
But wait…there’s more!
I did notice, however, that on the night snorkel we wore O’neil wetsuits and they did a lot more buoyancy in the water so that it was a little easier. So, if you wanted a little extra “float action” then a wetsuit is a good idea…
Plus, they look cool and make you look good
You feel like a real snorkeler with a wetsuit and they’re like the “spanks of the sea”…in most cases. They work for some people, is all I’m saying.
To Sum up the Benefits of a Wet Suit for Snorkeling:
- Thermal insulation when needed.
- Extra buoyancy
- They look cool in pictures
- They pack you in and make you look really good.
That’s how we would answer “Do you need a wetsuit for snorkeling?” in about 300 words. Our team doesn’t use them regularly as we snorkel around the Hawaiian Islands but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t or that it wouldn’t be of some great assistance.
Thanks for reading!