Snorkeling while on a cruise ship vacation in the Caribbean is one of the most affordable and enjoyable excursions you can take. I once snorkeled for about 4 straight hours in the Caribbean and enjoyed every second of it. But you need to follow some snorkeling tips if you are a first timer. Here is some advice below that will help to make your first snorkeling experience a memorable one –and not because it was terrible=).
Rent or Buy Your Own Snorkel Gear
To rent or buy your snorkel gear will cost about the same, unless you get all fancy and decide to buy professional grade snorkel equipment. But if you buy your gear you can use it over and over again, and you don’t have to worry about time restraints.
If you are worried you might not like snorkeling, then you should just rent the gear to save you from standing in the return line at Walmart.
You should also consider that if you buy your own snorkel gear before your cruise you will have to find a place to pack it, and space can be tight, especially if you want to bring some souvenirs home.
Make Sure the Mask Fits Right
Whether you are renting or buying you will want to make sure that the mask is the right size for your face. If it’s too big or too small it will just be frustrating for you and water will be leaking in all the time. Or sometimes, if it’s too small it will pinch your face so much that it will start hurting pretty bad. Don’t wait to get into the water to try on your mask, but do it right away. If you are renting you can get it exchanged for another size.
How to Keep Goggles from Fogging Up
One of the most annoying things about snorkeling is when the goggles get so foggy that you can hardly see anything. This can be remedied by some anti-fog spray which most snorkel rental places will have, or you can use the old fashioned method—spit. This is what my first snorkel instructor told us, and it does work a little, although not as well as anti-fog spray.
The main reason your goggles will fog up it that you are trying to breathe through your nose, which is a mistake. You should only attempt to breathe through your mouth and this will cut down on the fog.
Practice Blowing Water out of the Air Shaft
At first you will be scared to death to let any water into the blow tube, but you need to practice letting water in and blowing it out on your own. This way, you won’t freak out if it does happen, and you can also dive deeper into the water and then come up for air by blowing out the water that got into the air shaft. Once you practice a few times, it’s really not that difficult.
Do You Need a Buoyancy Vest
Sometimes the snorkel instructor will require you to wear these vests, but I find them rather cumbersome. If you are not a strong swimmer, however, you should definitely wear the vests, which can be inflated to your desired level of buoyancy. If you want to do any diving under the water’s surface, you will want to remove the vest, but for your first time, definitely wear it for safety purposes.
Do You Really Need the Fins?
The fins are really cool and all, but they really only serve the purpose of letting you swim faster. My wife loves to wear her fins when she snorkels, but I like to take my time looking at the coral and don’t really use them. It does take less effort to swim with fins, so you should at least try them. But if you are buying your snorkel gear to bring along, you may find that it does not all fit in your suite case with the fins. When renting, sometimes the fins are included with the rental.
It’s easier to put them on when you are already in the water and they get wet a little—just a little extra tip for ya.
Get a Guide or Snorkel on Your Own
Going snorkeling with a guide will make things much easier on you if it is your first time. A guide will also know where all the good spots are so you can see some amazing coral and marine life. Going on your own you have to already know where the coral is or you may be disappointed. Although, if you already know some good spots then you can try to go out on your own, but make sure you have people with you. Never go snorkeling by yourself, and use the buddy system if you can.
Know the Creatures in the Sea
There are many beautiful sites to see under the surface of the ocean water, but there are also creatures that you want to be aware of.
Sea Urchins– These look like little black, red, or purple balls that have huge spikes sticking out all around them. In the Caribbean usually they are black and they will hurt like crazy if you step on one. That’s why you should never try to stand up while in the water unless you are over a sandy area. The spikes have little barbs and they will put a bit of poison into your body. It won’t kill you but it will hurt for a long time and might ruin a perfect day of snorkeling.
Jelly Fish– You might think they are beautiful, but I really do hate these things. They can sting you just by touching you (or you touching them) and it will hurt for a while as well. The first time I went snorkeling there was an infestation of jellyfish around the island, which made snorkeling pretty much impossible. Just look around while you swim and you should be fine though.
Sharks – Keep an out for sharks as well, although most of the time you will be in an area where there aren’t any. If you are going to one of the private islands on your cruise, there will usually be someone watching for this type of activity. It’s when you go out on your own that you need to be careful.
Look Around Once in a While
It can be so easy to get fixated on the beauty of the coral and marine life that you don’t even realize how far you are from shore. Every couple of minutes or more often you should put your head up and look around to see where you are. It’s very easy to get disoriented in the water. You should also look out for boats and jet skis, just in case they are close by.