Learning to Snorkel- Beach or Boat?

If you have not yet tried snorkeling, it is an amazing experience on Maui, if you are prepared. Some people may feel a little apprehensive about the ocean or not want to put their face in the water. Not to worry, we have some great tips, for different levels of water enthusiasts.

The first thing is having the right equipment. There are many snorkel and dive shops on the island, so one is sure to be close to where you are staying. Have the shop staff assist you with a good fitting mask, snorkel and fins. Your mask should fit snugly, but without being uncomfortable. Full face snorkel masks are not recommended. Salt water is naturally buoyant, but if you are not a confident swimmer, you can also rent a float belt.

From here you have two options: find a great snorkeling spot on your own or book a snorkeling boat charter.

See our Beach Guide for more information about snorkeling spots and how to book a snorkeling charter.

Snorkeling from the Beach

If you decide to go the beach route, please keep in mind that you should not snorkel alone, even on the calmest day. Choose a spot with a sandy entry spot. Go in the morning when the water is the calmest. Look for any warning signs on the beach before entering the water.

If you have long hair, you will want to tie it back in a low pony tail.  Assuming your mask is already adjusted to fit your face, carry it and your fins to the water’s edge, but out of the surf. Before putting on your mask, do a little fog prevention. Spit into the mask and rub it around, then one quick dip in the water. Put your mask on and the snorkel in your mouth.

The safest way to enter the water is to put your fins on and walk backwards into the ocean looking over your should so you are not surprised by incoming waves. However, it is very hard to walk in fins. If you are comfortable in the water, face the ocean, put your mask on and snorkel in your mouth, and carry your fins as you wade out past where the waves are breaking on shore, staying in shallow water. Make sure to bite down gently on the snorkel and keep your mouth closed. If water gets in your snorkel, expel it by forcefully saying the word “two” while keeping the snorkel in your mouth.

Turn and face the beach and put one fin on, keeping a firm hand on the other one. Once both fins are on and you are breathing comfortably through the snorkel, bend at the waist and put your face in the water, getting used to the feeling. Some people feel anxious about breathing through a snorkel, but after a few minutes most get used to it and are able to breath normally. Remember to keep your breaths long and steady. It will relax you and you will have more energy to keep snorkeling for a longer period of time.

It is not very interesting to snorkel over sand, so you will want to swim toward the edge of the beach. The best way to swim with fins is to use long steady strokes, trying to keep your legs as straight as possible to better avoid slapping the surface of the water, which could scare all the fish away. You generally will see reef underwater well before anything appears above water. Stay away from rocks that are above the surface. Waves can push you against them or shallow reef you could get injured.

Snorkeling From a Boat

While beach-entry snorkeling has the advantage of being very inexpensive and on your schedule, snorkeling from a boat has many advantages too. There is no sand to contend with and someone else takes care of your equipment. You also don’t have to worry about leaving your valuables on the beach while in the water. While it’s always a good idea to snorkel with a buddy, boats have a guide keeping an eye out for snorkelers in the water, so it is the best option for solo travelers. You might get closer to humpback whales, and actually be able to hear them underwater during whale season. Boats will also stop for a bit of whale watching to and from a snorkel or dive site. To choose a snorkel boat, keep in mind the bigger the boat the smoother the ride, especially on a trimaran or catamaran. Large vessels typically have wide entry steps off the stern to enter the water- no dealing with entering the surf, just hold your breath and take a scissor step off the landing while holding your mask to your face with one hand. You will naturally pop to the surface, where you’ll want to forcefully say the word “two” into your snorkel to clear the water.  Many snorkeling boats offer snacks and beverages, up to a full lunch and bar.

Check out Boss Frogs– they have excellent snorkel gear to rent, and also operate three different size vessels on Maui.

Be Eco-Friendly

Note that you do not want to stand on, grab onto or touch corals. They are living animals and could be harmed. It is also illegal to touch, chase or otherwise interfere with sea turtles and all marine mammals. Observe these amazing creatures from six feet away or more. We also no longer feed fish. Once a popular occurrence on snorkel tours, science has taught us that fish feeding is bad for the animals and the environment. Also make sure to pick up some reef-safe sunscreen while on island. These are the only products allowed in the ocean in Hawaii, as chemicals in other products can harm the reef and all its creatures.

Snorkeling is a pleasurable and energizing way to discover Maui’s unique underwater ecosystem. Enjoy!

2024-02-06T02:28:45+00:00February 6th, 2024|Beach, Ocean|

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