Let’s go snorkelling – a beginner’s guide

If you’re an adventurous traveller, snorkelling really is an experience like no other. There’s something so magical about being underneath that clear, cool water, experiencing the colourful coral and unique marine life in its natural habitat.

But if you’re a total beginner, you might not be aware of how to prepare, or how to make your first snorkel an out-of-this-world experience. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of all the need-to-know info so that you get into that water feeling comfortable and excited.

Ready to dive in? Let’s go.

Do an equipment check

First thing’s first – what equipment do you need? If you’re going snorkelling by yourself, make sure you organise this well ahead of time to ensure all of the equipment fits you just right.

You’ll need:

  • A diving mask or goggles – these are absolutely essential to be able to see underwater!
  • Snorkel – otherwise known as that tube that will help you breathe when you’re closer to the water’s surface. You’ll also need a snorkel keeper to fasten it to your diving mask. If you can, try and get a snorkel with a purge valve to drain all that water out.
  • Swim fins or flippers – if you want to get a little bit speedier, fins are a great way to cut through that water quickly and with ease. They’re also great for swimming against currents, so definitely worth having in your snorkel kit.
  • Wet suit – this one is more applicable to snorkelling in colder climates and conditions, but if you’re someone who gets cold quite easily, it might be a good idea to zip up and stay warm. Wetsuits come in short and full length, too, so you have a few options available.
  • Snorkel shoes or boots – not always essential but it’s a good idea to protect your feet if you find yourself exploring large expanses of rock.

If you’re doing some kind of snorkelling tour, they’ll provide all of this for you. But if you’re venturing out on your own, take note and make sure you’re prepared for the day!

Our top tip: Exmouth is probably one of the best locations to snorkel because of the sheer diversity of marine life to see under those pristine Ningaloo waters. There is an abundance of Exmouth snorkelling tours on offer, so make sure you book one if you find yourself there!

Check the weather

No one wants to have a nice, serene snorkel experience ruined by tumultuous weather. You’re going to want to pick a day where the waters are calm and still. Also keep in mind that weather can change pretty quickly – so just because you’ve ventured out on a sunny day, it doesn’t mean conditions will remain the same throughout the day. If you’re out there for a long time, or take a break for lunch, remember to check the weather again before continuing.

Make sure your swimming skills are up to scratch

You want to feel safe and comfortable out in the water, and that means making sure you’re able to swim well out in the ocean. Generally, the areas you’ll snorkel in will be pretty calm, but it’s still good to feel prepared.

You might also consider practising how to swim with fins, as it can feel pretty odd when you first start! Practice in shallower waters until you’re used to the feeling of having flipper feet.

Practice in a swimming pool if you need to!

Practice holding your breath

Snorkelling is different to diving in that you don’t have oxygen on your back, which means you’ll need to hold your breath if you want to be able to duck dive. Although you’ll be snorkelling within your means, it can be helpful to practice holding your breath while swimming underwater.

Slow down and relax

If you’ve never been snorkelling before, it might feel quite weird to be underwater. Remember once you’re out there snorkelling to slow down and relax. Once you’re used to it, snorkelling is incredibly cool and can even be calming.

Slowing down is also the best way to take everything in. You’ll see much more if you take your time.

Don’t snorkel alone

For beginner snorkelers, and even those who know their stuff, snorkelling with somebody else is highly recommended. This is not only for added safety but also because it’s just a lot more fun to have the experience with someone else.

Research your location

Where have you chosen to snorkel? Do you know the area? It’s a good idea to thoroughly research where you go beforehand to ensure you know about any potential risks, such as tides and waves, as well as any undersea dangers.

Do sharks frequent the area? Are there a lot of jellyfish at this time of year? Check before you snorkel!

Think of the marine life

You’re entering their home – which means you need to be mindful. That means no touching the coral (it’s a living organism!). In fact, avoid touching any marine life you come across. Keep in mind that these animals are simply living their lives in their natural habitat, and probably don’t want to be touched, probed, or accidentally harmed during your snorkel. Others may actually be hazardous; they might be poisonous or react badly to you touching them. It simply isn’t worth it.

Keep in mind, too, that when you’re wearing fins, you’ve added another 30cms or more to your height! So if you decide to hang vertical in the water for a moment, be aware that your fins are not kicking the coral beneath you!

Make sure you wear biodegradable sunscreen that won’t damage the delicate underwater ecosystem. A lot of sunscreens contain chemicals that will bleach coral, or have other harmful ingredients. Check before you slather it on!

Get out there!

Once you’re aware of all the basics, it’s time to get out there and get snorkelling! If you don’t feel super confident venturing out for the first time, take someone a bit more experienced with you, or jump on a snorkelling tour where you’ll get professional instruction and advice.

Snorkelling is great fun – no doubt once you’ve jumped in that water to snorkel, your first time will definitely not be your last!