BEGINNER SNORKELING TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMERS
Snorkeling is a fun way to escape the everyday “above-water” views of the island so you can get an unforgettable view of the underwater wildlife the area has to offer. We have several snorkeling excursions that offer stunning views of everything from sea turtles to coral reefs and interesting underwater habitats. However, if this is your first time, it’s smart to study up on tips and tricks to make your first Virgin Islands snorkeling excursion the best that it can be. We’ve compiled a few things to remember on your first time snorkeling.
- Don’t go alone. It is always best if you can go with a group and a tour guide on your first ever snorkeling trip. You never know what kind of interesting issues could come up, including muscle cramps, feeling panicked, leaky gear…so make your first trip safe and memorable by going with someone who is an experienced snorkel guide.
- Make sure your goggles fit. You think that’s a no-brainer, right? Well, getting equipment that is fitted properly will help a lot. Your mask should seal perfectly in place when you wear it, it should not move, and no water should be seeping in on the sides. Adjust the straps on the back of the mask if water is still making its way in when fully submerged. If your mask gets too tight when you are making these adjustments, ask your tour guide if you can try on a larger mask. Basically, there should be an airtight seal and you should be able to see everything around you very clearly while maintaining a great level of comfort. If the mask is too tight, it can hurt after a while (and you want to be out there for hours having fun).
- Make sure your fins fit too! Speaking of gear fitting right, take our advice and make sure those fins fit nice and snug as well. If you have to curl your toes to make the fins fit, get a larger size and see how that feels. When your fins are too large, they can give you blisters on the top of your feet, which is NO fun. Many of our tours visit ecological sensitive areas where fins are prohibited, but if you are snorkeling with fins (or “flippers” as some call them), the right size will make your first snorkeling trip so much more enjoyable.
- Snorkeling is more floating than swimming. It might be surprising to some, but you really aren’t “swimming” a lot when you are snorkeling. You are mostly floating and skimming across the top of the water, looking down. It’s really smart to find a small body of water to “practice” in before you hit the larger bodies of water. More advanced snorkelers can hold their breath, dive down deep, and then “blow out” their snorkel when they get back to the top. This is a more advanced move that will come in time, but on your first snorkeling trip we suggest just skimming and floating and enjoying all that is beneath you.
- Make sure to keep your snorkel above water. Again, another no brainer. Sometimes explorers forget that they are snorkeling, and they dive too far down. You might see something really cool and then have the desire to get closer, but trust us – breathing in water will put your trip to a pretty fast halt. Again, there is a tactic that you can use where you hold your breath, dive under the surface, and then let out a really large breath to “blow out” your snorkel when you get to the top. This is a more advanced tactic, but feel free to practice this on your first trip out! If you have a guide, ask them for some pointers.
- Relax. Hey – just relax. Sometimes first-timers will panic a bit, and that will cause you to over-exert yourself and wear out too quickly. Snorkeling is a really safe way to enjoy your vacation, and you will find that the more you relax and let yourself glide through the water, the more enjoyable time you will have. Feeling a bit panicky? That’s okay! Just talk to your guide or someone from your group. If you follow lesson #1, you will always have this option if you’re starting to get a little scared.
- Don’t touch anything. It seems crazy that you shouldn’t touch anything, but it’s true. The oils on our skin can hurt the delicate ecosystem, so it’s best to be a passive observer of this underwater world. Stay away from touching coral, fish, sea turtles, or anything else, really. We love being respectful to nature, and you’ll leave your first snorkeling trip feeling as though you were PART of the ecosystem.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re snorkeling the Virgin Islands. If you forget any of them, don’t worry! We have trained professionals who will take care of any issues or questions you may have while on your excursion. Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy yourself!