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Basic Equipment For Snorkeling

One appealing aspect when beginning snorkeling is the economical way you can get started. Snorkeling it easy to do with just the very basic equipment, requiring just a snorkel and a face mask, even fins can be optional. However there is a fairly new innovation that is taking the snorkeling world to a new level. This technology makes it easy to breathe with no fogging up of the mask window and 180 view.

If you prefer to use the regular snorkel and mask here are a few tips to enhance your experience.

After becoming comfortable in your mask and how to work your snorkel, you may want to try skin diving to get an even closer look at the ocean floor and sea life. As you become proficient at holding your breath for longer periods of time skin diving can be a great addition to surface snorkeling and you may want to purchase fins at this point.

What Is Skin Diving?

Those who try snorkeling may feel the next exciting step is to try skin diving. This is simply getting a large breath of air and diving below the surface. Depending on your skill level you can dive to 10 or 15 feet below. Any deeper than that not only takes practice but may cause some discomfort in your eardrums if you don’t pressurize them.

After this step you many want to transition to using a SCUBA tank, or Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Holding a tank of air on your back will let you to dive deep and stay underwater for longer periods of time.

However, just as many still choose snorkeling. The freedom of not having to suit up with a tank and just enjoy a quiet and still underwater encounter. Also, SCUBA diving is not something you can jump into, you have to take a series of lessons and become certified. Of course this is all for your safety and enjoyment, but is a larger step to take than simple snorkeling or skin diving.

Snorkeling Masks

As mentioned above, the mask is an important part of the basic snorkeling equipment. Although, not as necessary as a snorkel, looking through a mask and the underwater surrounds clearly is probably the most important part to most. A simple, reasonably priced, mask is a good beginning to building your basic snorkeling equipment.

A regular mask will have some magnification to it, but if you need prescription glasses to see on land, you can invest in a prescription mask. Wearing glasses underwater just doesn’t work because the frames extending out and back to the ears will not allow your mask to seal and you will soon have a mask full of water. An alternative to prescriptions is wearing contacts which some find to work great.

There are many styles and shapes of masks to choose from, they have change a bit from 30 or 40 years ago, but not really a lot. The options you can choose from are full face masks, which are very new to the market and only sold by a few sites online. These are reasonably priced and they will let you breathe through your nose and mouth at the same time which really appeals to many people who just cannot get used to breathing through the mouth only.

Other choices are just a mask for your eyes only or a more popular model is the eye mask with the attached nose piece. You will commonly find these as part of the combo snorkeling sets, they will usually include the mask, fins, mesh bag, and snorkel.
Snorkels

The snorkel is the tube that is attachable to the mask, allowing you to breathe the air above the surface while swimming underwater. There are several model and types of snorkels ranging from a straight tube to more advanced types, like the dry type snorkel, containing valves and floats inside the snorkel to keep water out of the tube.

Most snorkels have purge valves in the base of the snorkel itself. This will help you blow out the water and spit into the water without surfacing.

Snorkeling Fins

The shape and design of fins have also had some changes in the last few decades, no longer are there only gigantically long flippers, seen for instance in older black and white movies. They can now be found more compact in design, made with a mix of different plastic components.

The convenient shorter sizes are perfect for traveling, lighter in weight, and adjustable. Full foot fins are also a great addition to your basic snorkeling equipment. Some folks think that the shorter fins do not provide the power and speed of the longer fins. Power and speed will be important in rougher waters or if skin diving down into deeper waters.

Yet the opposite opinion is the longer fins cause leg fatigue and cramps in the legs. Socks may also be a good investment to protect the feet from rock and sharp objects in the sand. Too, they may give a more comfortable fit for fins that rub, blister or are a little too loose.

Snorkeling Vests

A snorkeling vest is not a life jacket, but is an easy to blow up flotation device that allows more buoyancy in the water while snorkeling. This works well so people will not have to continually tread water while snorkeling. It is more of a relaxed floating experience while peacefully watching the fish below.

These vests are easy to inflate and to deflate, it has a long straw type device that makes is easier to adjust your buoyancy to your level of comfort in the water. This vest also comes with an attached whistle to call for help or alert someone to your location.

Mesh Bag

When purchasing a snorkel set with fins, mask, and snorkel a bag usually comes with the set. If you don’t have a mesh bag it is a good idea and a worthwhile investment for your basic gear. The bag will be a big help when trying to carry all of your gear, and they are wonderful for rinsing off the equipment hanging it up and letting it dry through the mesh.

Most mesh bags will have a shoulder strap that can double as a backpack if needed for hiking into a sweet snorkeling spot, or for collecting shells and driftwood.

Underwater Accessories

There are some fun accessories to purchase to use while snorkeling. A camera is a great one. Taking a picture of your snorkeling buddy underwater or capturing an awesome looking fish to share with your friends makes the dive even more memorable.

There are underwater disposable cameras available although the quality and pixel range is usually mediocre. Some phones and regular cameras can be snapped into a waterproof case and will provide much better photos.