How to Snorkel Underwater

by Nathan Fisher
Snorkeling is a fun and uncomplicated way of exploring underwater habitats.

Snorkeling is a fun and uncomplicated way of exploring underwater habitats.

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Granting access to an underwater world unfamiliar to many, snorkeling allows swimmers to view marine life or hunt down a lobster dinner. For the cost of a mask and fins, snorkel diving is an inexpensive way of exploring below the surface of oceans, lakes and rivers. Unlike SCUBA diving, which requires bulky, expensive equipment and specialized training, snorkel diving is within reach of anyone who is able to swim.

Items you will need

  • Snorkeling mask
  • Swim fins
Step 1

Find a snorkeling mask that fits your face. Place a mask against your face and allow the strap to hang in front of your chin. Hold your hands under the mask, in case it falls, while breathing in through your nose. If the mask slips from your face, while attempting to inhale, the mask is too big. Place the strap over the widest part of your head. Check that the strap fits snugly, but not so tight as to cause discomfort. The snorkel should rest comfortably in front of your ear

Step 2

Pick a pair of swim fins as you would fit a pair of shoes. Flippers should fit snugly so they don't slip off your feet while walking, but not so tight as to pinch your toes.

Step 3

Apply a no-fog solution to the inside of the mask before going diving. Defogging agents are designed to prevent condensation, from your breath, from forming on the glass. If the mask fogs while diving, remove the mask and rub saliva on the inside surface of the glass.

Step 4

Place the snorkel's mouthpiece inside your lips. Hold the mouthpiece gently, without biting down.

Step 5

Practice breathing -- take a few breaths out of the water to get a feel for breathing through the tube. Place only your face below the surface of the water. Breathe normally until you are comfortable breathing though the snorkel with your face underwater. Take a deep breath and submerge your head until the snorkel fills with water.

Step 6

Lift your head and speak the word "two" forcefully into the mouthpiece to clear water from the tube. Practice the procedure until clearing the snorkel becomes second nature.

Step 7

Learn to clear water from the mask. Water will often enter the mask, from the strap working loose or bumping the masking while underwater. Getting used to having water in the mask will help avoid panic the first time the mask floods while on a dive.

Step 8

Submerge your head and pull the mask away from your face. Calmly hold your breath for a few seconds and raise you head above the surface. Pull the bottom of the mask away from your face to drain the water.

Step 9

Float face down in the water while breathing normally through the snorkel. Kick your legs, from the hip, with your knees relaxed and slightly bent. Swim along the surface of the water until you see something interesting to investigate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Marine wildlife is best observed by remaining still, showing the animals you are not a threat, and waiting for them to approach you.
  • Stay acutely aware of your surrounding -- and your boat- when snorkeling offshore.
  • Check local fishing regulations before harvesting marine life.


  • "The Simple Guide to Snorkeling Fun"; Steven Barsky; 1999


Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images