Can You Snorkel Without Knowing How to Swim

If you’re not really sure about your swimming ability but you want to try Snorkeling there are rules you should go by, like Can you snorkel without knowing how to swim?

Yes but:

  • Wear a life Jacket 
  • Test good snorkel equipment & know how it functions
  • Start at a Calm Spot
  • Stay with a group-Never Alone!
  • Let Tour boat Instructors or others know you are not a strong swimmer.
  • Don’t Ever Mix Alcohol & Snorkeling
  • Beware Of Stepping On Coral
  • Start From the Beach not from the Boat


The next time you’re in the Keys don’t pass up the chance to do some shallow water snorkeling there is something to remember if you are not a strong swimmer but you want to go.


 Difference Between Snorkeling and Scuba Diving


Scuba Diving is the mode of underwater diving where the diver uses a self-contained breathing device where they are completely independent and separated from the surface supply. Divers carry their own supply of oxygen to breathe in the form of compressed air that gives them the independence and freedom of movement that surface diver doesn’t have.

The Open Circuit Breathing system discharges the compressed air to the diver and is exhaled into the environment as it is exhaled. The smaller the cylinder the less duration the Diver stays underwater. That sounds easy enough but this is a serious matter for these guys.

Closed Circuit or Semi-Closed Circuit Rebreather Scuba Systems allow recycling of exhaled gases. The volume of gas, therefore, is reduced by the Diver compared to the Open-Circuit. This extends the time the Diver can spend underwater for the same gas consumption. They produce fewer bubbles and less noise than the Open-Circuit and make a better choice for military Divers that need to avoid detection. It also is preferred by Scientist who is able to study marine animal in their own habitat.

Skin Diving or Freediving is the practice of diving underwater without the use of a portable air supply,  common with Scuba diving. Skin diving can be done with minimal equipment, such as a mask and snorkel, or it may be done with no equipment at all.

Snorkeling is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped breathing tube called a snorkel, and usually swim fins that the Divers wear. A wetsuit might be used by the Diver if the water is cooler temperature. The use of this equipment allows the Snorkeler to observe the surrounding area for extended periods of time. This is done with little effort and the Diver can breathe while lying face down on the surface. Snorkeling is very popular, especially in Tropical Resorts. The Diver can observe the aquatic environment in all it’s natural settings.

Snorkeling can be used as an entryway into Scuba diving and give people a unique experience in this amazing world. Diving without a tank on your back can be rewarding. It can allow the Diver to feel the freedom of movement that you can’t get with all the equipment.

Marine animals are approachable and are easier to view in their habitat. There is little equipment that is easily packed up in your suitcase for your trips around the world. Scuba Diving grew out of the need for diving deeper than Skin and Snorkeling do. It’s something that requires more equipment, cost and technique, and time to learn. The skill learned from Snorkeling can be used for developing into a Scuba Diver.

Besides the equipment, there is more planning with Scuba diving. Safety is more critical and aware of everyone in a group situation. Time and depth are constantly monitored to control. Managing and calculating air use and averting problems conscious decisions. Taking more precautions and the use of a backup plan is a big part of safety in Scuba diving.


Is Snorkeling Safe

Snorkeling can be very safe for the whole family. I am limited at swimming but found the trips I’ve been on in Florida are very safe, especially in groups of people that are watching out for each other. There are some rules that you need to follow because of being exposed to the outside environment.

Staying calm and controlling your breathing is an exercise you can practice. The first jump in the water is when the anticipation might be a relatively short time until you gather yourself. That is if you are jumping from a boat. That will only last a few minutes and then you will calm right. That is what happened to some of the people that I was with on a boat tour in Key Largo Florida.

Once you get in the water you will calm right down and lose that anxiety that comes from the anticipation of waiting to jump in. Then when you do You will float. It was fantastic and I have done it a few more times since then. The fact is most of the Snorkel trips I took were in shallow water.

The boat tours have Instructors that watch out for everyone especially the people that had life jackets on and admitted they had a limitation when it came to swimming.

If you decide to purchase the equipment just try it on before you go. What really helped me was using the whole Snorkel Kit in my pool just practicing the breathing motions through the Snorkel until I felt very relaxed and confident. There is not a huge difference between using it in the pool and the ocean. The added addition of wearing a snorkeling vest brought some added mental security with the rest of the equipment.  It makes all the difference when you feel like you have some control over the situation by wearing good gear and knowing how to use it.

The best way to start out Snorkeling might be from the beach where you can enter the ocean slowly a little at a time. Stay in the shallows to get your breath down while practicing your movement in waist-deep water. It can take you no time to get going and this will be like Snorkeling in a swimming pool.

Alcohol can contribute to the risk of injury and death when Snorkeling. Don’t Drink and Snorkle. If you do run into a problem Snorkeling even in a few feet of water all most people have to do is to Stand Up and Don’t Panic. You will be fine. People should always have some capacity to swim or at the very least Float. I’ve found that Snorkeling made me more comfortable being in the water and becoming a better swimmer.

Snorkeling can be very exciting but tiring and a lot of injuries are listed to older middle-aged men who get caught up in the moment and then get too exhausted eventually having some heart-related issues. It’s important that everyone knows their limitations and Snorkel together in groups just in case something does happen than others will be there. I can’t wait to do it again.


Coral Danger

One of the problems with Snorkeling on beaches or shallow areas is Coral injuries. Coral is pretty to see but not so nice to step on. Be aware of your surroundings always, Be careful walking and pay attention to avoid these typical injuries. If you happen to cut yourself on coral make sure to scrub your skin with soap and water and then flush with fresh water. If the wound strings, rinse with vinegar or alcohol. Most importantly, consult a doctor to prevent infection.

Children are naturally curious by nature and usually, they want to touch whatever they see. Teach your kids about underwater creatures such as corals, seashells, sea urchins, eels, and everything else. Most importantly teach your children to avoid contact with unfamiliar creatures.

Jellyfish stings are very common injuries to Snorkelers that may be encountered. A sting from a Jellyfish may be severe and may even scar your skin. The pain is caused by their venom which is subsequently released after the sting. For this reason, it’s important that you never touch the affected area.

A lot of families Snorkel together, you need to warn them of certain precautions that they need to take.
If you got stung by a jellyfish avoid rubbing the area and do not clean it with mineral or tap water, rinse the spot with sea water instead. Finally, pour special jellyfish sting treatment or vinegar over the injury and apply the dry powder over the area. Again, remember it is important that you never touch the affected area.

Be leery of murky waters that you can’t see the bottom while you are walking. Never let your kids Snorkel alone and if they start to feel cold then they need to get out of the water. Kids are the last to feel Hypothermia but because they love to play in the water so much they are the first to get it. Know the Signs of Hypothermia. Keep the kids close to the shoreline and in your sight.

Cramps are a commonly experienced problem among snorkelers, Divers, Surfers, and anybody in the water for too long. If you ever experience a cramp during your swim, position yourself with your head above water. Try to relax your muscles and rest to regain your energy. Most importantly, always let your companions know that you are having problems before it causes you to panic. This way, they can help you swiftly and effectively. Try Not To Panic!

Also be aware that most people like yourself, want to see Coral, so you are much more likely to be in contact with it.  You need to make sure you don’t step on it. This all means that Snorkeling is very safe.  If you take the necessary precautions that you would for most water-related activities and be aware and your surroundings it will be very safe.

Never Snorkel Alone!

 Best Snorkel Gear For Beginners


Omega Flip Fin Navigator Fishing Fin from Amazon 

Snorkels for beginners should be easy to operate and durable. If you’re looking for a snorkel for snorkeling, then make sure to look out for the ones that are hard, rigid and either have a purge valve for easy exhalation of water, or a splash guard to help protect the top of the snorkel from splashes or waves at the surface of the water.

Picking and Adjusting a Snorkel

As a beginner, it is always a good idea to buy the snorkel from a reputable Dive dealer and to avoid the gimmicky snorkels, as they are usually overly expensive. The Snorkel’s mouthpiece should be big enough that it doesn’t slip out of your mouth and you won’t have to clench down with your jaw to keep from losing it. This recommended snorkel in the picture has a unique floating valve system, which closes when it comes into contact with water.

The dry top opens as soon as you resurface. The mouthpiece is adjustable and has a swivel ball joint. Check your Snorkel and learned to secure with to the Mask strap with a plastic lip or the rubber Snorkel Keeper and make sure that the position of the Snorkel can always be adjusted.

Try on the Snorkel and Mask found here on Amazon together and make sure that the mouthpiece can be gripped comfortably in your mouth. Your lips should surround the Mouthpiece entirely. The tube allows for the snorkel to drop away from the face when not in use or scuba diving.

Snorkels come in all sorts and sizes. Mask does too.  In Diving the Snorkel Mask is an important part of the gear.  GQMNL Scuba Mask Diving Mask Snorkeling Deep Diving Snorkel Set Equipment Water-Stop Drainage Valve Snorkeling Dive Mask

It is important that you ensure it not only fits properly but is equalized and defogged. The whole point of a mask is to provide comfort, security, and clear vision once you get out into the water.

They should be lightweight and have an unobstructed view. The buckles should be easy to adjust. Some mask has an anti-reflective coating of shatterproof glass so they withstand pressure. The ARC mask technology not only reduces reflected light but also increases the amount of light available to the driver’s eyes. This can improve vision dramatically, especially on a sunny day. Using a full-face Mask for beginners is an excellent idea.


Yamaha RDS300 Seascooter

Picking and adjusting a Mask

Buying a Full Face Snorkel Mask can be hard, there is a ton of low-quality masks and high-end quality. In the summertime, you can buy them in the supermarket. No matter if it’s your first time snorkeling or you’re experienced, there are some things you need to know before buying a Full Face Snorkel Mask – as you want to find the right one.

Using a full-face mask is a great alternative to a standard snorkel mask for three main reasons why:

  • Visibility – most mask models offer a curved lens that extends behind your eye and gives a clear uninterrupted 180-degree view. The frame seals behind your vision line, which means you don’t have a frame that alters your view.
  • Water barrier – the masks seal around your entire face, which decreases the chance of water getting into the mask when you smile. The rear strap holds the mask in place on your head, allowing you to move freely and take one wind and waves without losing the mask.
  • Natural Breathing – While using a full face mask you can inhale and exhale through either your nose or mouth. Natural breathing helps keep you calmer and more relaxed in the water. The absence of a mouthpiece, also makes extended snorkeling more comfortable, allowing you to snorkel longer.


How to check if a Mask fits

  • The fit of the mask is crucial, but can be done in a few easy steps:
  • Put the mask on without pulling the strap around your head
  • Inhale lightly through your nose
  • create the suction
  • Let the mask go and move around and smile a few times. It should stay on.
  • Put the mask back on

Learn how to de-fog your mask. the old standard way Spit into your mask and rub the spit into the lens. Then rinse it out with the pool or seawater. Then place it back on your face.  Buy the standard de-fogging solution that you’re a pick-up where you get your equipment.


Best Snorkel Gear for Beginners

If you are interested in Snorkeling on your next vacation you need not buy expensive Snorkel Fins. There are plenty of brands that have the functionality and great designs and colors to choose from. You need Fins that are Extra Large-designed to fit wading shoes or Stockingfoot waders compact and lightweight for travel purposes like these Omega Flip Fin Navigator Fishing Fin from Amazon Tough and flexibly used by the Navy Seals Teams, SOCOM, and Air Force Rescue Teams made of Neoprene-like these.

They will have a hole or hook for easy storage. You will need to buy them a couple of sizes bigger than your feet so you can wear something underneath (footwear) as most Divers do. This prevents rubbing and sores on your feet and makes them uncomfortable.

Choose from either a full fit Fins or an Adjustable Fin. The full-foot Fins are better if you are just starting out. They are easy to use, just walk around on them when you are on a hard surface. To wear full foot Fins, turn the heels inside out then slip your foot inside the pocket. Flip the heel back up and walk around to make sure they don’t pinch and won’t fall off. If you don’t want to swim check the  Yamaha RDS300 Seascooter with Camera Mount Recreational Dive Series Underwater Scooter

How to Snorkel, Snorkeling Class for Beginners

How do Snorkels Work Underwater


If you’re planning to bring your Snorkeling equipment on a trip or vacation then it is a good idea to keep in mind the weight of your fins. If you’re a snorkeler, you might want to invest in a pair of Reef Fins, which are half the length of diving/freediving/skin diving fins.

Not only are these lighter in weight, they as will pack nicely in your suitcase. Reef fins are smaller, lighter, and much easier to control when you’re gliding around on the surface. However, it is important to remember that as the size of the blade is smaller, you won’t get as much propulsion from them.

There are a few types of Fins that are available for Snorkeling and Diving such as Split Fins and Hinge and Pivot Fins but the most common for Beginners Snorkeling is the Standard Paddle Blade.

The Standard Paddle Blade is the most common simplest material and cost-effective way to go here. It’s a great Fin type for novice Divers and also the Snorkeling Beginner. 

Buy or rent good equipment that is comfortable and fits so everything functions the way it’s supposed to. try to get a perfect fit for your mask if it leaks or is uncomfortable you will have a lousy time. Try your mask on.  Men, If you shave then do it after you shave. Does your nose feel good?

Does the mask fit the bridge of your nose? After a long time in the water and with the mask on your face, that will be the likely place where it starts to be uncomfortable.

Without the strap stretched over your head, put the mask to your face, press slightly, inhale a small amount through your nose to suction it to your face, and release your hands. The mask should stay on your face without continuing to inhale.

You should be able to move around a bit without it falling off. Try moving your face muscles a bit. Does that break the seal? Try smiling. That will often break a seal on even a well-fitting mask. But see what it does. Test the strap over the top of your head. Just try and stretch the straps and fit the mask before you pack it for the trip. Make adjustments with all your equipment and try everything out.

Spend a little more money to buy or rent a Dry Snorkel or a Snorkel with a splash guard. One of the worst experiences a Beginner in Snorkeling has is when water finds it’s way back down your Snorkel. A Dry Snorkel has a special valve that sits on top that closes when the person goes underwater. It will also have a special purge valve at the bottom of the snorkel so that it is easy to blow the water out of the tube. For a first-time snorkeler, this piece of equipment is essential  It is worth whatever additional rental costs. Learn more about different types of snorkels here.

Practice in a pool or a Shallow Beach before you go. Get a feel for breathing underwater and through the Snorkel with your face in the water. The main trick is to relax your body. Does water leak in while you are doing this. The mask may be too tight or there could be some hair underneath the skirt.

Practice purging your snorkel of water by blowing hard to force the water out the top and out the bottom purge valve if you have one. Break your leg muscles in, by swimming with the Fins on for a while.

If you are not a strong swimmer then swim with a noodle or a flotation device. For most first-time Snorkelers, exhaustion good is a problem. Stay relaxed and calm if you do you can reduce your effort. Swim steady and slow and breathe in a natural rhythm as you take strokes. Avoid heavy breathing and take breaths in naturally. This might take a little practice but it’s not difficult at all. Let your fins move you along. You want the first time a great experience.

Experts recommend that Beginner Snorkelers don’t go from a boat. Go from a Beach, especially the first time. Sometimes first-time Snorkelers will have a better calmer experience by slowly entering the water instead of jumping into some deeper water.

There could be some anxiety about breathing through the Snorkel, as some people have reported. You don’t need the anxiety or fear you want a completely safe fun adventure. Always choose a Calm Spot that will reduce the effort it takes swimming around in the water.

You always want to test all your equipment in shallow water if it’s possible to do so and you are entering the water from a beach. Put your Fins on last and if on a beach “moonwalk” backward into the water. Bend over face first until your mask is submerged. Take some breaths through the Snorkel normally until you feel comfortable. Double-checking for any problems if there are, take them off and adjust them.

When everything is good, lay flat face down in the water and you start to float kick your feet and you are Snorkeling.

Practice This Essential Skill for Snorkelers. 

  • Take a deep breath-Now to hold your breath
  • Hold your head underwater deep enough for the Snorkel to completely underwater too. 
  • Bring your eyes back up to the surface
  • Blow out hard and with a lot of force from your lungs pushing air through the Snorkel
  • Move a little farther out and Snorkel and breath through your Snorkel
  • The more you move and breathe the easier it is to do
  • Always have a Buddy with You.

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Best Places To Snorkel In Florida Keys


Some of the Best places for a Novice to Snorkel are in Florida Key West there is where I learned on vacation. If you are used to your equipment and breathing through the Snorkel then you are pretty much ready to go. Boat Members will even school you on the use of the equipment and will rent it to you.

Key Largo in Florida has boat tours that take Beginner Snorkelers out to the many Reefs that hold some of the best views in the world.  Here are just a few:

  1. Key Largo- Dry Rocks which holds the famous Christ of Abyss statue is considered- Novice Dive/Snorkel
    Depth Range: Shallow to 25 feet Experience Level: Novice
  2. White Banks -Dry Rocks Snorkel
    Depth Range: Shallow to 15 feet Experience: Beginner to expert
  3. Grecian Rocks –Snorkel
    Depth Range: Shallow to 25 feet Experience Level: Beginner to Novice
  4. Molasses Reef– Snorkel/Dive
    Depth Range: 10-70 feet Experience: Novice
  5. The Elbow- Snorkel/Dive
    Depth Range: 12-35 feet Experience: Novice
  6. Snapper Ledge –Snorkel/Dive
    Depth Range: 12-35 feet Experience: Novice
  7. Wreck of the Benwood
    Depth Range: 50 feet offshore – 20 feet inshore Experience Level: Novice to Intermediate


Most snorkel tour and rental companies provide training on how to use a snorkel kit. Good Snorkeling Gear is Essential for preventing injuries. But only prior snorkeling experience can prepare visitors for water in their masks or navigating the currents, reefs, and so on. For the safest ways of experiencing Snorkeling take a class at the Community College, at the Diving store, or Sporting Goods Store. They will give you expert training for a small cost.

You can start in the pool and will work up to Dive status if that’s what you are looking for. If not, Snorkeling especially in places like Florida where big waves and surf are less of an issue is really a safe and fantastic way to get out and find Nature.


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JimGalloway Author/Editor




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