How to Snorkel: Best Techniques from Snorkel Ken

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Snorkeling is widely believed to be easy.  I guess it is.  As long as you are comfortable with your snorkeling gear and at-ease with being in the water, then snorkeling should be an easy and relaxing past time.  It should be filled with leisurely swimming and floating, with your mask in the water, as you are dazzled by the bright colors and beautiful sites of the marine life, fish and corals.   It’s not really about how to snorkel as much as it is about snorkeling the right way.

Unfortunately, a lot of people make snorkeling a lot harder than it really is.  And some, make it into a spectacle. It doesn’t help either, that sites publish garbage like this and people expect to be snorkeling awesomeness after reading it.

One of the most snorkeled places in the world is at Hanauma Bay, on the Island of Oahu in Hawaii.  In all fairness, there are a lot of tourists who to go to Hanauma and many of them are people who have never snorkeled before or have only done so once or twice in their life.  Still, it’s painful to watch people struggle with equipment and the actual act of snorkeling.

Best Practices to Make Snorkeling Enjoyable Rather than Painful and Awkward

  1. Put Your Fins on in Water

This really gets me and I don’t understand how, when people put their fins on 10 or more yards from the water, they don’t realize how silly it looks and how difficult it is to walk in them.  It’s so much easier to take a seat in 6 to 8 inches of water, put on your fins. This is “How to Snorkel: 101”

From there you can put your mask and snorkel on and go right to the belly.  You’re snorkeling.

  1. Fish Don’t Like Frantic Splashing

I’ve seen some people who kick their feet in the water and make it appear as though there is a sea monster in a feeding frenzy in that area.  There really is NO NEED to take your feet out of the water when kicking.  This happens mostly when people tend to kick from the knee down only.  Instead, use your whole leg, keeping it relatively straight and moving the upper leg in an up and down motion while trying to keep your fins from erupting into a splashing mess.  Believe me, it helps you see more fish because they won’t scared away and those snorkeling around you will thank you.

  1. Watch Where You Are Going

In our snorkeling safety guide, we make it a point to focus on being aware of your surroundings.  That includes being aware of other snorkelers around you.  Nothing aggravates me more when I am observing a shy fish in a coral crevice, trying to get a good photo on my GoPro and some guy or gal goes kicking and snorkeling right through my line of sight…almost bumping into me in the meantime.  C’mon!

  1. How to Snorkel with GoPros and Other Underwater Cameras

Don’t chase the fish.  Nothing makes a worse GoPro video than a person holding a telescoping stick and chasing after fish through the water like a predator.  Chill.  Relax.  The fish are running and swimming away because you’re chasing them!  Calm down.  This is especially true with turtles.  You can see in this video that this turtle at Kaiona Beach Park on Oahu let me swim along for more than 7 minutes and we were just enjoying each other’s company. And two dolphins in the video of dolphins in this post swim within 4 feet of me because I’m just relaxed and watching.   Chill and be a part of the ocean and you’ll have better snorkeling experiences.

Thanks for reading.  Here’s another post on Snorkeling Etiquette that you may find helpful and offer more tips on how to snorkel well.

-Snorkel Ken

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