Bahamas Snorkeling Basics

Snorkeling Basics

Snorkeling is a fantastic way to see the beautiful scenery and life at the floor of shallow seas and oceans. While you can't go too deep, snorkeling gives you a fairly wide range of motion and can be a great centerpiece for a vacation. If you're interested in booking a Bahamas snorkeling tour, but you're a first-time snorkeler, here are a few things to learn before you sign up.

1. Practice Snorkel Safety

Snorkeling is an activity that centers on spending time in water deep enough that you can't easily stand, while breathing through a tube. Like all aquatic activities, you need to be comfortable swimming. Snorkeling adds the complications of a mask and breathing tube, so even veteran swimmers may find themselves a little uncomfortable right away. Always make sure you listen to your guide and safety instructor, to make sure your activity goes smoothly.

2. Get Familiar with the Mask and Snorkel

Being familiar with the equipment is the first and most important part of snorkeling. If you can rent or purchase some equipment to train before your tour, you'll have an experience made that much easier. Practice in shallow water. Put on the mask and practice looking around underwater. At the same time, use the snorkel tube to breathe. Breathing through a tube is difficult for most people to adjust to right away, so it may take some time.

3. Learn to Clear your Equipment

While you're snorkeling, you'll often find two problems crop up. The first is that water can get into the snorkel tube, inhibiting your breathing. Clearing it is simple; just forcefully breathe out while the tube is above water. This pushes the water out of the tube and leaves it clear for breathing.

The other problem is that your mask, warmer on the inside than the water outside, will begin to fog up. In order to clear this fog, simple let a little water in. This clears the condensation. Some masks have a purge valve to remove the water, while others will require you to pull the mask away from your face to create a gap.

In order to help prevent mask fogging, keep the inside of your mask clean. You can clean it with soap and water easily, rinsing out any dirt or grime.

4. Practice Breathing and Swimming

Once you are comfortable wearing the mask and breathing through the tube, you will need to practice doing so while swimming in water deep enough that you can't touch the bottom. This is the typical situation during Bahamas snorkeling tours. At this stage, you will also need to get comfortable with snorkeling fins. Practice swimming along the surface of the water using the flutter stroke.

The flutter stroke is the common method of fin usage seen on TV: each leg kicks one at a time, with a gentle alternative rhythm. Make sure to keep your fins under the surface of the water. Breaking the surface means you require more energy to move each fin to propel you, meaning you will grow tired more easily. Keeping your arms at your sides will help reduce drag, which also costs you more energy. If you find yourself fatigued, practice swimming on your back. This motion is less tiring for your legs and allows you to float and recover your energy.

5. Learn to Dive

While you might not need to dive, diving while snorkeling is a move that helps you get a closer look at the beautiful underwater scenery during a Bahamas snorkeling tour. You can dive feet-first easily enough. Simply orient yourself vertically and slowly breathe out, allowing yourself to sink. A headfirst dive is more challenging and requires a bit of forward momentum from your swimming. You will want to gather your arms and legs in, tilt yourself downwards and force your legs upwards, to propel yourself under the surface. From there, simply keep swimming as you normally would, but be aware that while your snorkel is below the surface it will be difficult to breathe.

6. Care for Equipment

After your tour, you will need to take care of your equipment. Swimming in ocean water allows sand and salt to gather on your mask and in your snorkel. When you're done swimming, rinse these items thoroughly with clean fresh water. Leaving salt to cake on will degrade the material, as well as lead to weakened fittings and other damage. Sand can scratch and abrade your mask, making it cloudy and hard to use. Take good care of your equipment and it will last you for years.