Snorkeling and swimming are two ways of enjoying the ocean that make you feel connected to the wonder of the underwater world. People who love water and nature are naturally attracted to snorkeling as an experience that completely redefines the way you imagine the perfect day at the beach.
What is there not to love about swimming with the dolphins or free diving? You get to experience the mysteries of the ocean bed: the kelp forests, the coral reefs and all the vibrant life surrounding them. Best of all, you don’t have to travel far for the best snorkeling and swimming experience. Some of the top snorkeling spots in the world are right here, in the US.
Do you really have to be good at swimming to go snorkeling?
Before we start talking about all the wonderful places where you can travel for next level snorkeling, it’s important to talk about swimming. For most people, swimming and snorkeling are naturally interconnected. A great percent of those who take snorkeling as a hobby are usually good swimmers, but this doesn’t have to be a rule.
You actually don’t have to be good at swimming to go snorkeling. You just have to be careful, and very well instructed/ equipped.
Despite the fact that it’s possible to enjoy snorkeling even when you are a poor swimmer, it’s usually a good idea to perfect your skills before you buy a snorkel set. We back this up with statistics.
According to this study that looks at snorkeling deaths in Australia for a period of over 10 years, the second most common cause of death while snorkeling is drowning at the surface. Free diving makes up for only a small portion of the total number of accidents recorded in the study. Why? Because snorkelers who free dive are snorkelers who are generally very good swimmers.
As a side note, the number one cause of death noted was cardiac arrest. So it definitely pays up to do a routine check up before you head out for your next adventure.
While the statistics presented in the study are food for thought, they shouldn’t be cause for alarm. Overall, Australia averaged 10 snorkeling related deaths per year. This makes snorkeling one of the safest beach side activities.
If you still want to go snorkeling and can’t swim here are 5 ways to stay safe
You might have the unexpected opportunity to go snorkeling without enough time to hone your swimming skills. Understandably, it takes a lot of time time and dedication to go from 0 to good swimmer. This doesn’t mean you have to say pass to your family or friends inviting you to try out snorkeling. You just need to be a bit more cautious than the swimmers and follow a few advice that are mostly common sense.
1 Use a snorkel vest
In terms of snorkeling gear for beginners, the snorkel vest is a must. This is like a life jacket for snorkelers, designed to allow you to float with only the basic swimming moves for moving through the other. When you choose a vest, one of the most important decisions is the size. Make sure you get the sizing right because this influences float-ability. In order to be able to float without having to kick to do so, you must wear the right size. Make sure you measure yourself accurately before buying or renting equipment.
2 Use a full face snorkel mask
If you have to worry about keeping yourself afloat, you definitely don’t need the added stress of complicated equipment. The modern full face masks allow you to breathe freely, without training on breathing techniques. It also keeps the water out of your face, which means you feel more confident, safe and are less likely to panic. These kind of full face snorkel masks are also great for experienced snorkelers, so you don’t need to worry about changing your equipment once you get better at snorkeling and swimming.
3 Don’t submerge your head
You might think that in order to see and enjoy the amazing underwater world, your head needs to be well, underwater. Not exactly. Actually the best technique for snorkeling beginners is dipping your head just slightly in the water, as you can read in this great snorkeling guide for non-swimmers (). Your goggles or mask only need to break the water surface.
4 Don’t go snorkeling without an experienced friend or family member
The worst thing you can do if you’re not a good swimmer is going snorkeling alone, or with another inexperienced friend. Make sure you have the company of someone that can help in case of trouble and help you get the hang of it faster. If none of your friends or family members are experienced enough, you can always opt for the services of a snorkeling instructor. Remember, safety should always come first.
5 Don’t panic
No really, don’t. The worst thing you can do when you’re surrounded by water is to panic. Even really good swimmers can get in trouble once they start panicking. So work on your confidence, make sure you have someone you can trust with you, breathe in, breathe out and relax. If you followed every other advice in this list you are safe so enjoy yourself.
If you do panic and feel like you can’t control it, ask the experienced swimmer you are with to help you get out of the water as soon as possible.
Best equipment for beginner snorkelers who can’t swim
The right snorkeling equipment is the most important aspect of any snorkeling vacation obviously. Having equipment that does not fit correctly, leaks or feels uncomfortable can turn any great vacation into a nightmare. That is why every beginner snorkeler should take into consideration this list of indispensable items before adventuring into open waters.
You should purchase your own snorkel mask. Rentals are never a good idea. Most of the time snorkelers that rent equipment have a hard time getting it to fit right. Even if you are an absolute beginner it is best to own your own equipment. And because you are a beginner you should best opt for a full face snorkel mask that will make breathing underwater much more comfortable and natural.
Many beginner snorkelers don’t pay much attention to diving fins, considering it an unnecessary extra. Wrong. Diving fins provide extra propulsion and help you swim better…even when you can’t swim very well. As a beginner choose a pair of inexpensive fins but make sure they fit just right.
This item is essential for snorkel and swimming beginners. A snorkeling vest will help you stay afloat with very little effort and it is great for beginners that did not develop a very good swimming resistance yet. Good news, it is also cheap.
Water resistant sunscreen
It is very important to protect your skin while swimming. Regarding the fact that you will most likely spend many hours in sunlight it is best to protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays.
You never know how far you can wander off fascinated by the view and wildlife and that is why we recommend you have with a whistle at all times. A whistle can easily be heard over greater distances and you can blow it for much longer than you can call for help.
Maui – a paradise for snorkeling and swimming beginners
Without a doubt Maui has some of the best beaches for swimming and snorkeling in all of Hawaii. The places and views you can enjoy here are breathtaking and seem to be especially design to create unforgettable memories.
If you are a beginner swimmer or snorkeler Maui is the right destination for you!
The variety of underwater wildlife and amazing scenery will make you completely forget about stress and worries and help you relax and enjoy your much deserved vacation.
What kind of wild life can you see while snorkeling in Maui?
Depending on the location you decide to choose the wide number of wildlife you can see while snorkeling is amazing.
You can swim seals, humpback whales and even whale sharks, but if you wish to take it slow and safe there is still a great variety of fish that live in more shallow waters that you see through your snorkel mask.
You can admire: parrot fish, damsel fish, butterfly fish, moorish idol, surgeon fish, crustaceans, tang, wrasse, box fish, trigger fish, perch, and if you are lucky you can even spot the former Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa.
Here is a list of best spots for snorkeling and swimming in Maui
1. Kapalua Bay
– this is one of the best spots for beginner snorkelers due to its location. The bay is placed between two reefs making its waters crystal clear and calm. This spot is very popular among beginner swimmers and families with young children that plan to have an unforgettable vacation in Hawaii.
2. Honolua Bay
– another amazing spot for people that do not feel very confident regarding their swimming skills. This place is located on the N-W end of Maui and it is a Marine Life Conservation District. The Bay is surrounded by rocky cliffs on both sides, sheltered from wind and waves. Here you can find tranquil clean waters and incredible white sand beaches.
3. Turtle Town Maui
– another paradise for snorkelers. Here you can enjoy a great variety of underwater wildlife as well as the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles. You do not need to be a pro swimmer or snorkeler to enjoy this spot. The waters are calm here and incredibly clean so just relax and enjoy your time in paradise.
– an amazing crescent shaped volcanic crater that is partially submerged underwater and one of the best snorkeling places in Hawaii. Molokini is Hawaii’s only island marine sanctuary. The inside of the crater is a Marine Life Conservation District and the island is a bird reservation attracting tourists from all over the world.
The walls of the volcano rise out of the water protecting the central crater from ocean swells and wind making this place a safe spot for any beginner snorkeler. You can read more about Molokini on this article about top snorkeling spots
5. Ahihi Kinau
– this place is also a marine life conservation district suitable for snorkelers of all skill and levels. The wide number of marine life offers a great underwater view and coral colonies are breathtaking…but take care not to step on any of them.