Wherever you go snorkeling, it’s always important to take a few moments to plan what you will do before you enter the water. Talk about your activity with your snorkeling partner if you have one. Discuss where you will go and how long you intend to stay in the water. Look for other points where you can exit the water if you are unable to return to the point where you first entered.
If you are diving in the ocean which are perfect for snorkeling, whether you are diving from the beach or a boat, you must plan your dive according to the sea conditions. The most important factor in planning for snorkeling will be whether or not there is a current.
Currents are like rivers of water within the ocean and they can have tremendous strength. If the current is strong, you will not be able to swim against it, no matter what your swimming ability may be. If the current is mild, you can still go snorkeling, but you must always take it into consideration in your planning.
If there is a mild current, plan to snorkel up current at the start of your snorkeling excursion, so that you can return to your exit point with the current and not struggle against it. This will help avoid exhaustion.
If, for any reason, you feel uncomfortable about the diving conditions on a particular day, don’t get in the water. It is not uncommon for even highly experienced professional divers to call off a dive because they feel sometimes the conditions are not right for diving.
Entering the water from the beach is a popular way to get into the water for snorkeling. If you plan to snorkel in a lake where there are no waves, you simply don most of your gear on shore, except for your fins, and wade out into the water to let the water support you while you don your flippers.
For beach diving in the ocean, it’s usually easiest to don all of your gear except your fins at your car rather than dragging your gear down to the beach to get dressed. This has the added advantage that you will usually get a lot less sand inside your equipment by dressing in at the car.
If you are going to snorkel in the ocean, you can don your fins in the water, provided there is no surf. If there are any waves at all, it is much safer to don your fins on the beach. You must also perform a proper “surf entry” if there are any waves to avoid injury and losing equipment.
Look for rocks and other hazards in the surf zone. These obstacles should be avoided. If there are surfers or lots of swimmers, look for another place to enter the water. A collision with a surfboard can ruin your day.
Don your fins at the water’s edge by standing up and leaning on your buddy as you don one fin at a time. When you are both ready and have decided it’s time to enter the water, put your mask on your face and your snorkel in your mouth. Enter the water by shuffling your feet and walking sideways out through the surf.
To prepare for a surf entry, you must first watch the waves so that you can time your entry and avoid going into the water when the surf is large. Waves normally arrive at the beach in sets, with several small waves followed by several larger waves. Watch the surf and count the sets until you see a pattern. You want to enter the water at the start of a small set of waves.
If you try to walk forward in the water while wearing fins you’ll quickly find you can’t do it and you may stumble and hurt yourself. Although it is easy to walk backwards with fins on, it’s never a good idea to turn your back on the ocean, since the giant wave of the day may suddenly appear and crash down on you.
Hold onto your mask as you enter the water to avoid losing it if you fall or a wave breaks over you. If a large wave appears as you are entering the water, dive underneath it while holding your mask.
Be sure not to get in front of or behind your buddy when entering or exiting the water. If a large wave should break it could throw you against each other and injure both of you.
Never stop in the surf zone, the area where the waves are breaking. If you do, it’s very likely that you will lose some or all of your equipment. If you lose a piece of equipment because of the surf, it’s unlikely that you will find it again. Either move back to the beach or out past the waves, but don’t stop in the surf and try to find your lost gear. You’ll just end up losing even more.
As soon as the water is deep enough to swim, turn so that you are facing toward the open sea, drop into the water, and start kicking hard away from the beach. Don’t stop kicking until you are outside of the surf zone. Once you are past the waves, you can stop and rest.