The thing about snorkeling is that it’s the simplest, safest, and easiest way to enjoy the wonders of the world under the surface of the water. That’s why millions of people want to do it and fall in love with it once they do. I’m not saying that snorkeling is risk free. Not at all. There are always some levels of necessary safety precautions that must be taken when snorkeling, or anytime in the water. A little bit of experience doesn’t hurt, either.
And, hey, I’ll admit it-I have my own list of fears that I’m working to get over. Flying is a huge issue of mine. Large dogs are a big anxiety inducer, as well. So, I’m not hear to cheapen or degrade anyone’s natural fears. That’s not who I am and, believe me, whenever someone says “why are you afraid of flying? Don’t you know it’s safer than driving” I want to punch them in the face and explain that cars have brakes and usually won’t run the risk of having the fuselage ripped open and sucking passengers out at 38,000 feet.
But, I digress…
If you’re scared of something, then you’re scared of something. And you either face it and get over that fear or you avoid doing that which makes you uncomfortable or afraid. (I used to drive 11 hours from Baltimore to Boston instead of flying 45 minutes)
When you’re scared of the water-even if you’re the slightest bit uncomfortable with the water-then how are you supposed to garner that experience, become more comfortable, and get over your fear of whatever it is that scares you about it? The fears can be many; drowning, shark attacks (though it happens a lot less than drowning), coral scrapes, fish phobia or “Ichthyophobia“, surf, under tow, rip tides, etc. You name it. We’ve all grown up with some warnings about the ocean. Even if you’ve always been around or in the ocean then you know, more than others, the dangers that the beach and seemingly gentle, gorgeous blue waters doth hold.
But, hey, we’re a snorkel gear review site and our aim here isn’t to get you more nervous than you already are, right? Nope. We’re here to help you get over your fear of snorkeling and allow you to experience the awesomeness that actually is live coral, beautiful fish, dolphins, seals, turtles and more. As snorkeling and snorkel gear experts, we’re going to give you our top methods of getting over your fear of snorkeling and get you off the sand and in the water with everyone else.
5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Snorkeling
Own, Practice and Know Your Own Snorkel Gear
Yeah, this might sound like a sales pitch coming from a guy who reviews snorkel gear and makes money doing so, but if it isn’t the truth then may I be harpooned by Poseidon and his might trident. (Dramatic)
Going back to my fear of flying, if had my own plane and learned to fly it, and knew what all those noises in air actually were and had flown enough times…then I’m gonna’ say that my fear of flying would be greatly less. The same goes for snorkeling. The more you use the same equipment then the more comfortable you get. There’s a big difference in certain snorkeling gear; the way the snorkel fits in your mouth, the way the mask feels on your head and face, whether the fins are tight or loose. It makes a big difference if you’re doing something that you have anxiety over if you’re familiar with the equipment that you’re using. Get your own snorkel gear and use it. Over and over again. Even if you’re only using for short periods of time. The more you do it, the more familiar and comfortable you’ll become in it.
Some snorkels have a dry top valve that closes when it’s under water….they don’t always open automatically. This can cause a little bit of panic for those that already have a fear of the water or drowning. The more you use your gear the more you’ll expect the little things and be able to cope with them better and easier. The same goes for snorkel masks, they leak sometimes. It happens. But if you spend enough time in the water with your mask then you’ll know how it fits and when it’s fitting well so that it won’t leak. You’ll be able to identify a leak before it happens and adjust your mask. And even if it leaks, then you’ll be able to easily clear the mask because you’re experienced.
I understand that not everyone is going to snorkel often. Many people only snorkel when they’re on vacation and won’t have enough time to “get familiar, learn to know, practice” yada yada yada with their snorkel gear. I got it. But if you are going to go on vacation and snorkel, maybe buy your gear before hand and practice at a community pool or somewhere else local.
Never Snorkel Alone
This is a Basic Rule of Snorkeling Safety. If something goes wrong then you want someone near you that can help or at least be aware that you’re in trouble and get the help you need. I don’t think my daughter or girlfriend could haul my 200+ lb butt onto land if I all-of-a-sudden start cramping but they could start waving like hell and get me some help. So, yeah, this isn’t a rule for only those who are afraid of the water or snorkeling but it’s a requirement and as a snorkel expert I have the right to make requirements for your snorkel safety. So let it be written….so let it be done. (Just kidding, but PLEASE don’t snorkel alone.)
However, if you’re nervous or scared of the water then having an experienced person with you at all times, who is comfortable in the water, can be a great ease on your mind because you know that you’ll have someone to turn to. You’ll know they’re experienced enough so that if you’re are in a situation that is over your head (pun intended) then they’ll know better and reel you in (pun intended).
Stay Close To Shore and Stay in Shallow Water
Snorkeling is such a chill activity that it’s easy to do even in 3 to 5 feet of water. I haven’t snorkeled every place in the world but I know that some of the best snorkeling spots around the globe have such vibrant sea life that it’s easy to see fish and coral in only that much water. I do know that at lots of snorkel spots in Hawaii you can do that! Anyway, even if you’re not seeing any fish, turtles and coral as soon as you get in the water…that’s fine. Use the time to get acquainted and comfortable with snorkeling and with breathing through the snorkel and taking your nose out of the equation.
Staying close to shore and in water that you can easily stand up in will give you the confidence you need to gain some experience as a snorkeler. It doesn’t take long to get used to it and you’ll soon be breathing through that snorkel and looking out that mask almost automatically.
Wear a Snorkel Vest, Life Jacket or Snorkel Tube
I don’t care if you look inexperienced or like a giant, orange/yellow marshmallow. I’m here to make sure that you learn and enjoy snorkeling safely. If that means that you’re wearing a snorkel vest, water wings and an inflatable sea horse around your waste…that’s okay. I just want you to get your face in the water, look around, and enjoy. (Note: That was a joke. You should only wear safety approved, flotation devices and vests when in the water. Inflatable toys and water wings don’t count….just making sure that’s clear.)
Inhale and Exhale
For many people there is a natural reaction for the brain to say “IT IS NOT ALRIGHT TO BREATHE RIGHT NOW” when the head and face are under water. That’s a good instinct because in usual situations you would drown. But when we have a snorkel and mask on the idea is that it’s okay to breathe…or at least that’s what we want our brain to know. It’s not always that easy, though.
The good news is this: There are actually full face snorkel mask out on the market today that allow you to breath into and out of your snorkel mask just as though you were breathing on land. Out nose, in through the mouth; Out the mouth in through nose; out the nose and in the nose… I don’t know…whatever your preferred method of breathing is. If you’re in the market for a full face snorkel mask than we have some really good articles on them here at the snorkel store. I’ll list them right below this paragraph, and if that’s not enough here’s the landing page on Amazon with all of the full face masks that you could want:
Summary: Alright, that’s it. That’s a little bit more long-winded of a post than I’m usually going to write here but I think it’s an important one. I want everyone to enjoy and experience the wonders of snorkeling and I’d like to do everything I can to ensure that all people get a chance to do just that.