As a South Florida native, I have always loved the water and can't think of a better way to spend a sunny day than in my snorkeling mask and fins, watching the marine life beneath the waves. There is something otherworldly about swimming in a school of tropical fish and seeing lobsters scuttle about on the sandy ocean floor with only the sound of your heartbeat in your ears.
My strongest recommendation to friends visiting South Florida or the Caribbean is to go snorkeling. It is also the first activity I search for when visiting a new location or booking a cruise, as every area has different marine life and different coral reefs to explore. Like snowflakes, no two areas are the same! While every snorkeling experience will be different, what goes into preparing for a snorkeling adventure is always the same, and I'd love to share my top tips for snorkeling with you!
No Experience Necessary
Many people think that you need to be experienced to get the most out of a snorkeling adventure, but that isn't the case at all. Most snorkeling excursions require you to wear a life vest, so you don't even need to be a strong swimmer to go snorkeling.
You don't need a certification like you do with scuba diving, so it's perfect for beginners! Snorkeling guides always give a lesson on how to put on your mask and breath through the snorkeling gear, as well as guide you where to go and show you signs for letting the guides know you are in distress if you need help.
What to Wear While Snorkeling
I recommend packing a one piece bathing suit for women and water shoes or flip flops that can get wet to wear after the snorkeling adventure. Depending on your snorkeling excursion, you may have the opportunity to explore a nearby beach or island and you don't want to wander around barefoot on a beach or hiking trail. As your back will be exposed the entire time you are snorkeling, make sure to apply a very strong waterproof SPF to your back and the back of your arms and legs to avoid sunburn.If you have very sensitive skin or burn easily, I suggest wearing a water shirt or tee shirt while snorkeling. The sun is incredibly strong while you are out on the water and it is very easy to get sunburned, even if you are in the water for a short period of time.
And you will want to bring along a backpack or sack that can get wet, as there will be a lot of splashing once everyone is back on the boat after you've snorkeled. Bring a change of clothes to throw on after you get back on the boat.
Plan Your Own Snorkeling Adventure
There are many times when I've laid on a beach and seen snorkelers in the water and wished I had brought my own snorkeling gear! If you are heading to the Caribbean for a vacation or are planning a cruise with a port of call near a beach, you can always buy a snorkeling mask and fins to take with you. If you aren't swimming very far out, you can even skip the fins and just bring along a mask. Once I was in Grand Turk on a Carnival excursion, and felt something brush against my leg, and when I looked down, there was a school of fish swimming around me!
Capture the Moment Under the Sea
Speaking of fish, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to share your underwater experience with friends and family back home?
While you can invest in expensive, professional-grade underwater camera cases, you can also pick up an inexpensive waterproof smartphone or camera bag for about $15.When choosing an underwater camera bag, you should look for one with an easy open and sealing mechanism. I prefer ones that have a Ziploc style closure as well as a secondary method for extra safety. You'll also want one that has either a strap or clip that allows you to wear it around your neck or clip to your life vest so that it's easy to get to when it's time to take a photo, but also doesn't get in the way while you are swimming.Make sure you test the waterproof seal before leaving home! This will allow you to take photos under the water; it makes identifying the species of fish you've seen easier when you get back on the boat, but it is also a great way to capture the moment for your photo album!
Options for First Time Snorkelers
I recently vacationed with a friend who is a little fearful of the water. I think she's watched shark attack television programs one too many times! I was able to lure her out to the water with me in a very clear area so that she could see the fish swimming around us, but she was afraid to put on her mask and actually go snorkeling.
If you are afraid of the water, there are always options for you to get the experience of snorkeling without actually putting your face underwater. If you are planning a Caribbean vacation, I highly recommend the Cayman Islands, Aruba and Turks and Caicos. The sands are white and the water is clear, so it is very easy to see the fish swimming around without fully submerging yourself in the water. You can ever see crab scuttling around the snorkeling areas!
If you are afraid of snorkeling but are adventurous enough to face your fears - it is vacation, after all! - don't fret! Snorkeling guides are experienced with every level of water enthusiasts, including first timers. There are usually snorkeling guides that go out into the water with you, and you can follow along and stay close to them for extra reassurance. They also teach you exactly how to use your gear, so you know what to do before you even get into the water.
Snorkeling guides are familiar with the areas they'll be taking you to, and can tell you exactly what you may see while out on the water and what to stay away from (like the spiny sea urchin or jellyfish). Your guide will also teach you about the hand signals they will use to ask everyone is they are doing okay, and how to signal if you are in distress.
On a recent snorkeling trip in Key West, our snorkeling guides even gave people floating noodles to make swimming easier.
You're going on vacation, so live a little! Embrace the open ocean and the wonderful world of marine life in their natural habitat!
Snorkeling can be a life changing experience and open you up to an entirely new world of possibilities. Once you see what the underwater world has to offer, you'll never look at a beach the same way.
This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.
Gorgeous photos! What an amazing snorkling adventure! I want to go again... like NOW! 🙂
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
I went snorkeling in St. Thomas once, but I can't swim, so I didn't get far.
It's been a long time since I went snorkeling. Thanks for the tips!
Looks like you had a great time! I've only snorkelled a handful of times, and I got stung by jellyfish, LOL
I've only been snorkeling once on our honeymoon in Hawaii. it was lots of fun. they gave us wetsuits to wear and gave us noodles too. I just brought my goggles and an underwater camera!
I've actually never gone snorkeling before, can you believe that? This inspired me to make sure I do next time I'm on vacation…these images are awesome!
Snorkeling is such a great experience. I've been once and I really loved it.
Janel (A Mom's Take)
I can't get over how beautiful that water is. I've had fun snorkeling and would like to one day have the chance to go with my children.
Chrystal @ YUM eating
I've always wanted to go snorkeling. I have never been to a place where the water was so clear I could snorkel.
I'd like to try it in shallow and clear waters. I think it would be amazing!
These are some really beautiful pictures! My husband and I are going on a cruise in January, and we would love to go snorkeling!
These pictures are amazing! I would love to go snorkeling one day. Thank you for the tips!
Alesha @ Full Time Mama
The only times I've been snorkeling were on a trip to Maui, and while I enjoyed going on a boat with guides and a group of people, I think we could have easily rented our own gear and gone on our own. It is nice to have the convenience of someone taking you to the harder to get to areas that are great for snorkeling though.
I got to snorkeling on my honeymoom in Jamaica. It was so neat. I would definitely do that again.
I want to try snorkeling. I am afraid of sting rays though and that is the only thing stopping me. I was stung by a sting ray a few years ago and was on antibiotics for about 2 months, had to have minor foot surgery, and I think I have lifelong nerve damage. I love the water though. I live really close to the Gulf of Mexico.
This looks like so much fun!! My oldest is only 6 and keep asking me if we can do this when we go to the beach. I want to wait until he gets a bit older, but I def. want to go Snorkeling with him 🙂
I have never been snorkling, but it looks like allot of fun.. I was always afraid i would not get enough air.. Those are amazing pictures..
Oh my goodness! I am so sorry about your stingray bite! I have never actually seen a stingray while snorkeling and now I am going to be on the look out!!
This looks amazing! You are so brave I don't think I could snorkel like that!
I would love to try this. Because of my breathing problems, they would not let me last time I had a chance. It would be awesome.
I've been able to snorkel in Key West and Grand Cayman. I'm too nervous for it though! I always think something is in the water, like jelly fish!
Snorkeling really is easy. You really don't even have to be that great of a swimmer. Our family really enjoys it. 🙂
I went snorkeling once and it was so much fun!! I love all your pictures, they're SO beautiful!
All the pictures are great, I would love to go snorkeling. The next cruise I go on I will be sure to sign up for the snorkeling excursion.
Its been such a long time that I went snorkeling, this tips will come in handy. Thank you!
Totally makes me want to head somewhere tropical! Love the water and beautiful sand!
I have not had the pleasure of trying a snorkeling adventure. The photos you posted are fantastic. I would love to try this.
I have always wanted to go snorkeling, it looks like so much fun. I wish being in the water didn't creep me out so much.
I think the noodles are a good idea. I like the tip to take a one-pc. swimsuit too. I used to snorkel quite a bit and I loved it!
The photos look amazing. I have always wanted to go snorkeling but I can't swim. LOL
Cassie @ Southeast by Midwest
Those are some gorgeous photos! I'd love to go snorkeling some time 🙂
Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma)
I have been snorkeling twice and it was so much fun. I can't wait to do it again!
How amazing! Life is about living it and it looks like you know exactly how it's done. That water is crazy inviting...I've never seen anything like that. It is part of my "to do". Have never tried snorkeling, but wow...it looks amazing!
Wow those photos look amazing. I'd love to go on a vacation like that.
I love to snorkel and can't wait to do it next week at #Beaches in Turks and Caicos! Your tips are really on point and gave me things to consider like sunscreen on your back.
This looks like soo much fun! I love snorkeling.
Snorkeling is one of those things I'd like to try but ultimately would get freaked out about. I don't like putting my head under water,
Oh that looks so cool. I would love to do something like this!
It has been two years when we last had experienced snorkeling. Next year we're planning to go diving and snorkeling. Right now I'm hoping to buy a new underwater camera to catch the best of our adventure.
Grace | A Shutterbug's Lair
Wow! That's a clear blue water there! I love the experience of doing snorkeling.. I missed being at the beach!
So jealous! I wanna go!!!
That was in Curacao - I've never seen anything like it before, it was gorgeous!
I wish I could go snorkeling. I've always wanted to. But I can't swim! Sigh.
Your photos are so beautiful! I would love to do that!
We are moving to Florida, Marco Island, I am so excited to scuba dive, that is on my list, I am so excited to read your post!
I would love to try snorkling! There aren't many places in Iowa though, lol.
I've never been snorkeling in my life, looks like a lot of fun!
I did that once but I'm not sure if you can call it snorkeling because I don't have the gadgets. LOL! It was fun though and scary! 😀
How fun! I've always wanted to try snorkeling, but I haven't had the chance yet. Love the pictures.
I am not a strong swimmer so I never thought I could go snorkeling. It's nice to know that I still could. This would be a fun adventure.
I went snorkeling down in the Bahamas! There is nothing like it! Your pictures are beautiful!
I love the Bahamas! Half Moon Cay is a great place to go snorkeling, where did you go?
Oh, you definitely can! Many places actually require that you wear a life vest, like cruise excursions. It's a safety measure for everyone just in case, but it's perfect for people who don't swim well!
I have never been snorkeling but really want to go. I love your pictures and tips!
Looks like you had a great time. I also enjoyed looking at the pictures. I love snorkeling and I would love to take my boys one day. Goodness this is making me want to take a vacation real soon.
Danielle @ We Have It All
OMGosh I just love all of these photos. I've never been snorkeling before but I would love to go. My hubby is very fearful of water, I wonder if I could get him out very far?
Oh, you definitely get enough air! The nice thing is that you never actually go underwater (well, not unless you WANT to), so if you feel like you want to take your mask off, you just pop your head up!
YAY! I am happy to hear that! I hope you do because it is just so much fun!
You can definitely go snorkeling even if you don't know how to swim! That's what life jackets are for. Actually, many of the places that offer snorkeling are very shallow too. You can always look for a snorkeling trip that goes to a shallow place so that you can just stand up if you are feeling overwhelmed or nervous.
Went snorkeling on our own at Half Moon Cay, it was beautiful! Saw a huge stingray, was surrounded by schools of fish, and saw a lot of sand creatures. Also went on a snorkeling excursion at Grand Turk. I'm so ready to go back soon.
That sounds exactly like the time I went snorkeling in Half Moon Cay. It was SO beautiful! Sometimes I think I might just book a cruise just so I can go back there. LOL!
I love snorkeling as well! I have loved it ever since I was a little girl and may mom took me vacationing in Florida. It is something I have been doing with my youngest daughter since she was about 10. At first, she didn't know how to swim and was having a hard time learning. I took her snorkeling in a protected turtle park and she fell in love. She learned how to swim on her own and now, every year we go to different locations in the Caribbean. We always bring our mask and snorkel. It truly is magical underwater.