Tips 'n Tricks — February 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

7 Tips for a First-Time Snorkeler

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The views are great when you’re lying on a sandy beach, staring out onto the open ocean—but mere feet away, the views get even better under that salty water!

Snorkeling is an easy way to explore the mysteries of the underwater world. If you can swim and breathe, chances are that you’ll have no trouble snorkeling. Feeling game? Here are 7 tips for a fun and rewarding snorkel!

Picking Your Mask
To begin, you’ll want a mask that fits properly. To determine if a mask is right for you, hold it up to your face and place it over your eyes and nose. There will be a piece of plastic covering your nose. Inhale through your nose. If the mask fits well, it should stay stuck to your face for as long as you inhale, without being held up by your hands or a strap. If air leaks in, pick another mask.

If the mask feels good, slip the strap over your head. Position the strap over the widest part of your head. You want a snug fight, but you don’t want—or need—it to be overly tight. It shouldn’t hurt your face, nor should it leave red marks on your face. Remember, the pressure from the water will help keep your mask secured over your face.

Selecting Your Fins
Properly-fitting fins are a must—too tight and your toes will cramp up, too loose and the fins might fall off in the water. Just like choosing a good pair of shoes, select fins that fit your toes well. If you need to curl your toes, the fins are too small. Your fins might feel awkward on land, but they’ll feel like a natural extension when you’re in the water. Some people prefer to wait until they are in the water before strapping their fins on.

Using Your Fins
To swim efficiently, keep your fins below the surface of the water. Once you get going, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to swim with these feet extensions—you’ll barely need to use your arms at all! Avoid fatigue by fluttering your legs from the hip, not from the knees. The saltwater will help with your buoyancy—I told you snorkeling was easy!

Learn How to Breathe
Breathing is easy! You’ve been doing it your whole life, right? Well, good—that practice should help, because breathing is one of the trickiest parts of snorkeling.

The secret is to take long, slow, steady breaths. The mask will seal your nose, so you’ll need to do all your breathing through your mouth, with the mouthpiece of the snorkel fully in your mouth, just like a mouth guard. You don’t need to bit down on the tube—in fact, doing so will tire your jaws before you see your first fish!

The best tip to remember is to keep your breathing relaxed—even if you spot a sea turtle swimming a foot away!

Play Nicely
Snorkeling allows you to visit a totally different world from the one we’re used to, so why not act like a gracious guest? Explore respectfully. Don’t pick anything up, and definitely don’t take anything with you. Watch where you’re kicking, especially around coral: it might not look like it, but it’s a living creature! It’s in your best interest to avoid touching the wonders that you see: coral can be sharp, and you never know what critters have stingers or are dangerous to touch.

Help! I’m Fogging Up!
If your mask starts to fog up, no worries. While there are some very effective defogging products that you can apply to your mask back on dry land, there’s one easy solution for a quick fix when you’re in the middle of a swim: spit! Spit into your mask and rub it around to get rid of the fog. Viola: clear vision reinstated.

Water in Your Snorkel?
It’s easy for a little water to end up in your breathing tube, and while it can be unsettling to inhale water when you’re expecting air, don’t panic! To clear your tube, you’ll want to puff out a burst of air. Try saying “chew” very aggressively.

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