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December 3, 2020

Snorkeling Safety Tips in Hawaii

A sea turtle in Hawaii

The first thing you should do before going on a snorkeling adventure in Hawaii is to make sure you know some safety tips! Even if you’re going on a snorkeling tour, it’s a good idea to be prepared. 

The ocean is a beautiful place to explore, but we must remember that safety comes first. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind!

1. Use a Buddy System

Unless you’re extremely experienced and are familiar with the area, always snorkel with a buddy and stay close to one another while in the water. This may be the most important snorkeling safety tip as a buddy can help with so many other tips on our list.

2. Check Weather Conditions

Take a look at the wave, current, and wind conditions before entering the ocean. If there are any warning signs posted at the beach, please be mindful and head to a different location with calmer waters. If you happen to get caught in the ocean current, don’t swim against it, swim perpendicular to the current to safely get out.

3. Know Your Snorkeling and Swimming Skill Level 

Even if you plan to snorkel in shallow waters, you will want to have some swimming experience. If you are not a strong swimmer, you may want to consider using a snorkel buoyancy vest. These vests allow you to inflate and deflate to suit your individual needs. Even a pool noodle or other floatation device can be helpful, but you’ll still want to stay close to the shore and watch out for currents.

4. Keep Your Hands Off the Turtles and the Reef

Do not touch marine life and be mindful of the coral reefs. You’ll want to keep a safe distance from the underwater animals (as many of them could be endangered) and never stand on or touch the reef, as it is extremely fragile and can easily cut you.

A snorkeling tour boat on Oahu

Snorkeling tours are safe, well-organized, and know the best spots for viewing sea turtles and fish.

5. Check Your Surroundings

Be aware of where you enter the water and where you are swimming as you snorkel. It is easy to drift further away from the shore, but always remember, don’t panic. Notify your buddy and wave to a lifeguard if you are fatigued or in distress. 

6. Avoid Alcohol Consumption and Exhaustion While Snorkeling

Do not consume alcohol prior to water activities, as it will cause you to become dehydrated and your judgment may be compromised. To avoid exhaustion during your snorkeling activity, drink plenty of water, and consider bringing a flotation device. Save the drinks for afterward, when it’s time to relax. 

7. Protect Your Skin, Especially Your Back

Protecting your skin is extremely important if you will be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time. Sunburn can not only be painful but also dangerous. Also, be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen to help protect our marine life!

8. Use Good Snorkeling Equipment

Many people rent snorkeling equipment, which is perfectly fine; however, you will want to be sure of a few things: 

Use a snorkeling mask that fits. Masks come in different shapes and sizes. You’ll want to consider your face dimensions and face shape while choosing the best mask for you. Do a suction test to ensure the fit is right: 

  • Put the mask to your face (do not put the strap over your head yet).
  • Press slightly and inhale slightly through your nose to suction it to your face. 
  • Release your hands. The mask should suction to your face without continuing to inhale. If so, it should be a great fit!

9. Learn How to Prevent Mask Fogging

Mask fogging can distort your vision and be a pain during your fun adventure. Check out this article for mask fogging solutions and tips

10. Get Fins that Fit

You’ll want to be sure that they are not too tight or too loose, and that they are not painful. If your fins are too loose, they could potentially fall off during your swim. If they are too tight, you’ll be in pain the whole time and it can ruin your experience. Remember that your feet will be wet and will often shrink a little in the cooler water, so having a snug fit is important. 

11. Avoid Snorkeling at Dawn, Dusk, and Murky Water

Visibility is so important and can highly impact your comfort level. Snorkeling at dawn or dusk means less light level, and this is also the top time for many sea predators to look for food. Murky water can also be an issue, as you want to see your surroundings and any marine life clearly. 

12. Have Fun!

The whole reason you chose to snorkel is to have a great time, so enjoy yourself and make some great memories! 

A sea turtle on a snorkeling tour on Oahu

We hope these snorkeling safety tips will help you feel prepared for your underwater adventure. If you follow these points, you should have a safe, fun, and amazing experience! And if you want a safe underwater experience on Oahu, please check out our snorkeling tours and sub-scooter tours

Mahalo and happy swimming!

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