How to Make Snorkeling Fun for Kids in the USVI
Are you planning a vacation with kids to the US Virgin Islands? If you’re looking for family friendly activities in the USVI, snorkeling should be on the top of your list. But, depending on your kids’ ages and experience levels, snorkeling can be intimidating. Here are a few tips for ensure your kids are not only comfortable snorkeling, but also have fun every time they’re in the water.
Show your kids what’s in the water, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
The ocean can feel immense and scary for those who aren’t around it all the time. If your kid’s first thought when it comes to the ocean is “shark” then it’s time to teach them more about the Caribbean’s generally harmless inhabitants. Grab a local fish identification card from an island gift shop and show them all of the cool looking fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates that are common to the region. Explain how fish – sharks included – are more intimidated by us humans and will avoid interacting with us for their own safety.
Give your kids an introduction to snorkeling in calm waters.
For your kiddo’s first few times in the water, pick a beach where the water is as calm as a swimming pool (not hard to find in the USVI!). Sit in the shallows with your snorkel gear and stay where your kid is able to sit and/or stand up at any time. Remind them that this is always an option.
Practice using the mask and snorkel separately before combining them.
Putting on a full mask + snorkel can feel foreign. Not only are you breathing out of a tube, but you’re also trying to open your eyes underwater and see through a lens. Give your kid the opportunity to play around with the mask first, holding it up to their face to start and just dipping their face in to look around under the water. Once they feel comfortable with that, do the same thing, but with the mask strapped onto their head. Baby steps!
Then, after they feel comfortable with the mask and are excited about looking around, allow them to experiment with breathing out of the snorkel only. Sit in the shallows with the snorkel in their mouth, then have them dip their chin in the water, showing how the top of the snorkel has to stay out of the water to work. Then practice dipping the whole snorkel under the water and have them blow the water out without inhaling. Understanding visually that the tip of the snorkel has to stay above the surface and that if it goes under, they’re going to inhale sea water helps mentally when they start snorkeling.
Next, try both the mask + snorkel together in the shallows, allowing them to hold the snorkel with their hand to ensure it stays upward.
Use a floatation device like a noodle, life jacket, or other raft.
Even if your kid is a proficient swimmer, snorkeling adds a whole other element to master. Between making sure their snorkel stays out of the water to gazing at colorful fish everywhere, it can be distracting. Taking away the effort of swimming helps immensely. Being able to lay their body weight on a pool noodle, life jacket, or other float allows them focus on the snorkeling and feel at ease in the water.
Take a snorkel tour with a guide.
As humans, we naturally feel safer in numbers, so going on a guided snorkel tour with other guests helps kids feel confident. Being accompanied by an expert guide also feels reassuring, especially to children. Plus, the guide’s local knowledge will help bring the ocean alive for your kids, as they point out marine life and share interesting facts with them.
Encourage your kids to choose a favorite sea creature.
Whether it’s a rainbow parrot fish, a sea turtle, or sea star, they can get excited to be on the lookout for them whenever they’re in the water, making snorkeling all the more engaging.
The Virgin Islands couldn’t be a more perfect setting for introducing your kids to snorkeling. The warm, calm, clear waters provide a setting in which they can build their skills and develop a lifelong love of being in the ocean. We have a variety of different snorkeling excursions on our site to choose from. Join us for a boat trip, a Mangrove Lagoon adventure, or simply rent snorkel gear to explore the shores at your leisure.