What is Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is a water sport that allows participants to experience sights and wildlife you would never be exposed to on land. Putting on snorkeling gear and diving into the underwater world is an adventure like no other, and makes for the perfect tropical excursion.
The earliest days of snorkeling can be traced back thousands of years to the days of Aristotle, when snorkeling was not the luxurious excursion that it is today. The earliest snorkeling gear was made from animal skins that were filled with air. Before then, sponge farmers used hollow reeds to breathe when underwater. Snorkeling has come a long way since those days, the use of fins and snorkel masks have made snorkeling much more efficient.
Anywhere there is water, there is an opportunity to snorkel. You can snorkel in a pool for practice, in a lake to immerse yourself in the company of freshwater fish, and in the ocean with the widest abundance of wildlife in the world. Competitive snorkeling is called bog snorkeling and takes place in shallower waters where spectators can watch while standing on the banks of the bog.
A major part of your snorkeling experience will depend on the type of gear you have. The right snorkeling gear can make or break any excursion.
Here is the essential snorkeling equipment you should have:
- Dry Snorkel - Allows snorkelers to breathe without taking their head out of the water.
- Snorkeling Fins - Makes the swimming aspect of snorkeling effortless.
- Snorkeling Mask - Combines the ability to see underwater while allowing you to breathe without taking your head out of the water.
Snorkeling is an activity that is mainly for recreational purposes, so the most important objective is to have fun! Snorkeling allows you to interact with all types of marine life, from fish, coral reefs, marine plants and mammals from just beneath the surface of the water. It differs from scuba diving, which allows you to go to much deeper depths of water. In bog snorkeling, contestants race two lengths in a 60-yard bog trench.
Rules and Regulations
Snorkeling is a very straight forward activity. When snorkeling as an excursion, having fun and being safe are what is most important. However in competition, bog snorkeling has a few specific rules contestants must follow.
Here are the most important bog snorkeling rules you should know:
- Conventional swimming strokes are not allowed in competitions.
- Snorkels and fins are mandatory, but wetsuits are optional, even though suggested.
- Contestants must complete two lengths in the race in order to win.
There are a few tips and tricks for beginners of snorkeling that will make the experience much more fun. There are strategies in how to prepare for your snorkeling excursion.
Here are the most important snorkeling strategies you should know:
- Ensure you have the right gear and that it fits properly.
- Know what body of water you are in and the types of aquatic life you might encounter.
- Defog your mask with baby shampoo or defogging gel.
Here is the common terminology and slang in Snorkeling:
- Bootie: A bootie is a shoe that is worn to protect your feet when climbing over rocks and reefs. They also can be used to keep your feet warm.
- Vis: Vis is slang for visibility while underwater. That is, how far you can see before the water makes things murky.
- Wetsuit: A wetsuit is made for diving. It helps trap heat and keep divers warm in colder waters.
Knowing the right spots for snorkeling can separate a good experience from a great one. There are breathtakingly beautiful snorkeling destinations all over the world.
Here are the most famous snorkeling destinations you should know:
- Raja Ampat - located in Indonesia's West Papua province.
- Komodo National Park - also located in Indonesia, it is one of five islands in the world where you can see wild Komodo dragons.
- Galapagos Islands - The best destination to see larger marine life like seals and dolphins.
World Bog Snorkeling Championship
The World Bog Snorkeling Championship is an annual event that takes place in Llanwrtyd, Wales. It is currently the biggest snorkeling event in the world. Not only is it the biggest, it is also the only event in the world where snorkeling is in the form of competition. The championship came to fruition in 1976 after a discussion at a pub in Wales and has since grown into a global event with swimmers from all over the world.
Snorkeling For Beginners
Sometimes the first experience snorkeling is not always the most pleasant. Beginners might have trouble keeping their snorkel tube above the water and inhaling properly. To combat this, use a dry snorkel, which uses a special valve that automatically closes if your snorkel goes underwater. Getting a mask and fins that fit will also ensure a better experience as water will not flood through your loose mask and your fins will stay on your feet. Snorkeling should be a relaxing experience, not something where you are straining hard to swim.
How long is a snorkeling trip?
A snorkeling trip can take anywhere from two or three hours at a time. To be in the water for that long, a good prerequisite of being a good snorkeler is to be a good swimmer.
Do I need sunscreen while snorkeling
Due to the lengthy exposure to sunlight and UV-radiation, you will want to have some form of sun-protection when snorkeling. This could be in the form of traditional sunscreen or a wetsuit.
How are snorkeling and scuba diving different?
Snorkeling allows you to breathe while floating just below the surface of the water. Scuba diving allows you to breathe underwater by using an oxygen tank.