Can I snorkel if I can’t swim?
Even if you aren’t a strong swimmer, you may still enjoy the benefits of scuba diving and snorkeling by following a few simple safety guidelines.
Can I Snorkel If I Can’t Swim? 7 Ways To Enjoy The Water Safely & Smartly
If you love the ocean but are not confident in your swimming skills, don’t worry. You can still enjoy the wonders of scuba diving and snorkeling by following some simple safety tips. You might wonder, “Can I snorkel if I can’t swim?” It sounds like a strange question since snorkeling involves spending much time in the water.
But it’s a common question, and the answer might surprise you. Snorkeling is one of my favorite activities; everyone should try it at least once. It has allowed me to interact with marine life on almost every continent, from swimming with giant whale sharks in Mexico to exploring coral gardens in Indonesia that go beyond the horizon. I have also seen amazing reefs with endangered sea turtles in Hawaii and watched countless colorful tropical fish live their lives.
But don’t worry if you think those things are too complicated. Everyone has to start somewhere (including me). Learning the basics and building your water confidence before you try any of the more advanced adventures on your ocean bucket list is essential. (You can learn more about snorkeling by reading this excellent Snorkeling 101: The Complete Guide to Snorkeling.)
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not a strong swimmer, and you’re unsure if you can ever experience the beauty of the sea.
So… Can I snorkel if I can’t swim? The answer is yes if you follow some safety rules, such as snorkeling only in water that is shallow enough to stand in, wearing a snorkel vest or a similar flotation device, using snorkel equipment that is suitable for beginners, and learning from snorkeling experts.
Snorkeling is possible even if you can’t swim. That’s great news, right? Even if you can’t do the more advanced snorkeling trips I mentioned above right away, you can start small and work on your swimming and snorkeling skills to prepare for them in the future. If you’re asking, “Can I snorkel if I can’t swim?” there are some specific things to remember. So, let’s talk about snorkeling safety and go through seven tips that can help you snorkel if you can’t swim.
How Can I Snorkel If I Can’t Swim?
If you’re curious about the possibility of snorkeling without swimming skills, there are some important things to remember. Snorkeling safety is essential, and you must follow some tips to help you have fun in the water even if you can’t swim.
How Can I Snorkel If I Can’t Swim?
When you go snorkeling, you must be aware of your environment and take the necessary steps to ensure your safety, just like any other activity on land or in the water. However, snorkeling is relatively safe, with few cases of danger. That’s why it’s generally considered a safe activity.
Snorkeling has a good reputation for being a safe activity; for example, a study from Australia found that only 11 people died from snorkeling every year in the country (in 2007, there were 2.2 million snorkeling dives on the Great Barrier Reef alone), and that “snorkeling is rarely associated with harm, and it can usually be regarded as the safest activity.” (It’s also important to mention that you must be healthy and fit before you start snorkeling.)
While it’s excellent that snorkeling is widely seen as a safe hobby, beginner snorkelers who are not good swimmers should be extra careful (or even a non-swimmer). So, let’s get specific.
One of the best ways to stay safe when snorkeling if you can’t swim is to choose areas where the water is shallow enough to stand on the bottom and keep your head above water. This way, if you have any trouble or feel uneasy, you can quickly put your feet on the ground and adjust yourself however you need. This will help you gain the confidence you need, even though snorkeling in deeper water is not recommended until you learn how to swim.
Shallow water usually means a more straightforward underwater scene, but there are some fantastic places (like Bonaire) where you can find incredible snorkeling just a few feet into the water. You might see groups of curious tropical fish that swim near the shore, and you might also spot crabs and different kinds of rays that like sandy bottoms. But the most impressive and exciting marine life is further out. So, if you want to snorkel in deeper water someday, practicing your swimming skills in shallow water is a great way to start.
Snorkeling from shore into shallow water is usually straightforward, but you must pay attention to the local sea bottom and what kind of footwear you need. You don’t need anything special for your feet on a sandy bottom, and snorkel fins, while very helpful when you snorkel further out, are probably unnecessary unless you plan to stand a lot.
But if you are lucky enough to be in a place with coral right on the shore, be careful not to step on it or touch it in any way because coral is very fragile (and can also cause a nasty infection if it cuts you). If the bottom is not sand but something else (like rocks or fossil coral), be ready by wearing water shoes. (We recommend the ALEADER Men’s Mesh Slip-On Water Shoes [Amazon] for men or the same ALEADER shoe version for women [Amazon]).
Another good way to stay safe when snorkeling if you can’t swim is to use a flotation device like a snorkel vest or a life jacket. Both items can help non-swimmers have a great time in the water.
Snorkel vests are lighter versions of life jackets, so they function similarly in similar situations. However, a life jacket will provide more safety if you can’t swim, while a snorkel vest might be better if you feel like you only need a little help with your floating skills while still having some freedom of movement.
Luckily, many models can be deflated for travel and inflated before you snorkel, so both options are affordable and easy to pack. We recommend the Seaview Palawan Snorkel Vest (available on Amazon) for snorkeling and the Hardcore Water Sports Life Jacket (available at most outdoor retailers) for saving (also on Amazon). Ensure you get the right size for your body size and weight before buying.
Snorkels have evolved from simple open tubes that let you breathe air from above the water to more advanced devices that prevent water from entering your mouth. Traditional snorkels often caused water to splash into the tube and mouth, which was unpleasant and dangerous for inexperienced or non-swimming snorkelers. Modern snorkels, however, have features that make snorkeling easier and safer for everyone.
One of these features is the dry-top valve, a one-way valve at the top of the snorkel that closes when submerged and opens when above water. This prevents water from entering the snorkel when you dive or encounter waves. Another feature is the purge valve, a small opening at the bottom of the snorkel that allows you to expel any water that may have entered the tube by blowing hard. These snorkels also have a reservoir below the mouthpiece that collects any residual water that may drip in.
These features are handy for beginners and non-swimmers who want to try snorkeling, but they are also beneficial for anyone who wants a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. I recommend the Oceanic Ultra-Dry 2 snorkel (available on Amazon), which has a dry-top valve, a reservoir, and a purge valve, all of which work well and are highly rated by users.
Snorkel masks have also improved, with better quality materials, larger viewing areas, and more extended durability. However, the most crucial factor for choosing a snorkel mask is how well it fits your face and seals out water. A poorly fitting mask can cause leaks, fogging, and discomfort, ruining your snorkeling adventure. A good mask should fit snugly but not too tightly around your eyes and nose and should not leave any marks on your skin after use.
A simple mask that fits well is enough to start snorkeling, and the Cressi F1 Frameless snorkel mask (available on Amazon) is a good option for beginners still deciding if they want to commit to the sport. It has a single-lens design offers a wide field of vision and a soft silicone skirt that conforms to your face shape. It is also easy to adjust and affordable.
However, if you want to invest in a better mask that offers more features and benefits, you can consider some of the more advanced models available on the market. For example, the SCUBAPRO Solo snorkel mask (available on Amazon) has a frameless design that reduces weight and bulk, a tempered glass lens that resists scratches and shattering, and a buckle system that allows you to fine-tune the fit.
Another example is the Atomic Venom Frameless snorkel mask (available on Amazon), which has a special coating that enhances clarity and contrast, a double-sealed skirt that prevents leaks, and a push-button adjustment that makes it easy to put on and take off.
4. Test Your Equipment Before You Go
Before you go snorkeling, it is essential to test your snorkel and mask in a safe and shallow water area. This will help you get familiar with your equipment and how to use it properly. Here are some steps to follow:
- Put on your mask and adjust the straps to fit comfortably and securely on your face. Ensure no gaps or leaks between the mask and your skin. You can check this by gently inhaling through your nose and seeing if the mask stays in place without any air escaping.
- Attach your snorkel to your mask strap and insert the mouthpiece into your mouth. Bite down lightly on the mouthpiece and seal your lips around it. Breathe normally through your snorkel and ensure no water or air leakage from the tube or the mouthpiece.
- Walk into the water until it reaches your chest level. Bend down and submerge your face in the water. You should hear a click sound from your dry-top valve as it closes to prevent water from entering your snorkel. Breathe calmly through your snorkel and see if you can breathe easily without any water coming in.
- If water does enter your snorkel, either from splashing or diving, you can use the purge valve to clear it out. Simply exhale forcefully through your snorkel, and the water will be pushed out of the valve at the bottom of the tube. You may also need to tilt your head slightly to drain any water collected in the reservoir below the mouthpiece.
- Repeat these steps until you feel comfortable and confident with your snorkel and mask. You can also practice swimming with them and see how they perform in different conditions. If you encounter any problems or discomfort, you can adjust or fix your equipment accordingly.
By testing your snorkel and mask before you go snorkeling, you can enjoy the underwater world more safely and comfortably. You will also be prepared for any challenges or emergencies while snorkeling. For more tips on cleaning and maintaining your snorkel gear, you can read our detailed article here.
One of the most essential tips for snorkeling is always having a buddy. This is true for beginners and experts alike, but especially for those who could be more confident swimmers. Having a buddy can make snorkeling safer and more fun.
A buddy can help you in any emergency or problem while snorkeling. For example, if you get tired, cramp, lose your mask or snorkel, or encounter any danger, your buddy can assist or call for help. A buddy can also share the experience with you and highlight exciting things you may miss.
If you are not a good swimmer, you should choose a buddy who is a strong swimmer and stay close to them at all times. You should also wear a flotation device, such as a life jacket or a snorkel vest, to keep you afloat and prevent drowning. You should also avoid snorkeling in deep or rough water and stick to calm and shallow areas where you can see the bottom.
Snorkeling with a buddy is not only an intelligent practice but also a fun one. You can enjoy the beauty of the underwater world together and create lasting memories. Snorkeling with a buddy is the best way to go!
Snorkeling in clear water is the best way to enjoy the underwater scenery and avoid any risks or difficulties. If you are not a good swimmer, you should prevent snorkeling in rough or deep water or where strong currents can pull you away from the shore.
To find out if the water is safe and suitable for snorkeling, you can research before you go. You can look up online reviews, guides, or blogs about the snorkeling spots you are interested in. You can ask local experts, such as lifeguards, hotel staff, or other snorkelers, for their advice and recommendations. They can tell you if there are any hazards or warnings that you should be aware of.
Another way to check the water conditions is to look for flags on the beach. These flags are color-coded to indicate the level of danger or difficulty of the water. The most common colors are green, yellow, red, and purple. Here is what they mean:
- Green: The water is calm and safe for swimming and snorkeling. There are no significant waves, currents, or dangers. This is the ideal condition for beginners and non-swimmers.
- Yellow: The water is moderate and may have some waves, currents, or hazards. You should be careful and cautious when swimming and snorkeling. You should also wear a flotation device and stay close to your buddy.
- Red: The water is dangerous and has strong waves, currents, or hazards. You should not swim or snorkel in this condition. Only experienced and skilled swimmers and snorkelers may cautiously enter the water.
- Purple: The water has marine life that may be harmful or dangerous, such as jellyfish, sharks, or stingrays. You should only swim or snorkel in this condition if you have proper protection and guidance.
Snorkeling is a fun and easy way to explore the underwater world, but you may feel nervous or scared about trying it if you are not a good swimmer. That is why you should prepare well and join a snorkeling class or tour suitable for beginners.
To prepare yourself, you must have the right equipment, such as a mask, fins, and a snorkel. These items will help you see clearly, move faster, and breathe comfortably in the water. You can buy or rent them from a local shop or online. You should also wear a flotation device, such as a life jacket or a snorkel vest, to keep you afloat and prevent drowning.
To find a good snorkeling class or tour, research online or ask for recommendations from your hotel or travel agency. There are many options available for different levels of experience and budget. You can choose from snorkeling courses (Viator), which will teach you the basics of snorkeling and safety, or excursions, which will take you to the best snorkeling spots in the area. You can also check the class or tour reviews and ratings before booking it.
By joining a snorkeling class or tour, you will have the advantage of having a professional guide who will show you how to use your equipment, how to snorkel safely and comfortably, and how to enjoy the underwater scenery and wildlife. You will also be able to meet other snorkelers and share the experience with them. You will have more fun and confidence in snorkeling than if you try it on your own.
However, before you join any class or tour, you should always inform the guide or instructor about your swimming skills and any concerns or questions. They can adjust the course or time according to your needs and preferences. They will also be able to provide you with extra assistance or supervision if needed.
Snorkeling is a beautiful way to discover the beauty and diversity of the ocean. But if you are not a good swimmer, you may wonder if you can still enjoy this activity. The answer is yes, you can snorkel even if you can’t swim, as long as you follow some safety tips and precautions, such as:
- Snorkel in a place where the water is shallow and calm and where you can easily stand up or reach the shore if needed. You can also look for places with lifeguards, buoys, or ropes that mark the safe snorkeling area.
- Snorkel with a buddy who is a strong swimmer and who can help you in case of any trouble or emergency. You should always stay close to your buddies and communicate with them using hand signals or sounds. You should also agree on a plan before you start snorkeling, such as where to go, how long to stay, and what to do if you get separated.
- Wear a flotation device like a life jacket or snorkel vest to keep you afloat and prevent drowning. You should also wear a mask, fins, and a snorkel that fit you well and are comfortable to use. A dry-top snorkel is a good choice, as it has a valve that prevents water from entering the tube when you dive or encounter waves.
- Learn from experts who can teach you the basics of snorkeling and adequately using your equipment. You can join a snorkeling class or tour designed for beginners and non-swimmers. You can find many options online or ask for hotel or travel agency recommendations. You can also check the class or tour reviews and ratings before booking it.
Following these tips, you can snorkel safely and comfortably even if you can’t swim. You can also have more fun and confidence in exploring the underwater world. Snorkeling is an activity anyone can enjoy if they are prepared and careful. Snorkeling is the way to go!