It starts with the right gear
Snorkeling is a great, relaxing way to get up close and personal with the underwater world, and it's a lot cheaper and easier than Scuba diving! All you need is the right gear, which includes a snorkel tube and mask. In this article, I'll give you all the information you need to pick the right tube for you and start snorkeling.
The benefits of owning a good quality snorkel tube
As a beginner, picking the right snorkel tube can be a difficult decision. It is important to know all of the options available before making a purchase. Obviously, a good quality snorkel tube costs more but it will also be more comfortable to use and lasts longer than a cheaper plastic or lower quality silicone snorkeling tube.
Above all else, when choosing a snorkel tube, you want to pick one that has the features you want, is comfortable, and is easy to use.
How to pick the right snorkel tube
There are a few things to consider when choosing your snorkel. Traditional tubes are typically made of silicone rubber or plastic and come in a variety of sizes.
Sizes - Length of Tube
The length of a snorkel tube varies, and longer isn't always better. A snorkel tube should be long enough to stay above the surface while you're floating or swimming face down at the surface. A longer tube is harder to breathe through than a shorter one.
There are smaller snorkel tubes in length and diameter made specifically for children to use.
Tube Angle and Flexibility
A basic snorkel will feature a fixed-angle snorkel tube. More expensive snorkels have a flexible corrugated section near the chin region. This lets you position the mouthpiece more comfortably. Most snorkelers find that a flexible tube is easier to use overall. A flexible tube has a bit of 'give' that makes it easier to use than a rigid tube.
Snorkel Keeper Clip
A snorkel keeper is a simple clip feature on the side of the tube that attaches to your mask strap and keeps the snorkel in place.
The size and fit of the mouthpiece on the end of the tube are very important. If you have a mouthpiece that is too big, then you'll have a sore jaw in no time, or it will cause you to gag. A mouthpiece that is too small for your mouth is also not ideal. A correctly fitting mouthpiece makes the whole snorkeling experience much more enjoyable.
Look for snorkel tubes with quality silicone mouthpieces. These are easier to clean, fit more comfortably, and will last longer.
Additional Features to Look For
Dry Top Snorkel
A dry-top snorkel tube is a type of snorkel tube that has a float valve inside the top of the tube. As you submerge, the float rises to the top of the tube closing the opening, which stops water from entering the tube. This means you shouldn't have to purge (blow the water out of the tube) when you resurface. If some water does get in, then it will only be a very small amount that you need to purge.
A snorkel tube with a float valve at the top takes a lot of the annoying purging out of snorkeling. I wish I knew about this as a kid.
A splash guard will help stop water from unexpectedly entering the tube when swimming or snorkeling at the surface in choppy water.
Drain Purge Valve
Some snorkels have a purge valve located at the chin region of the snorkel tube. The valve works when you lift your head above the surface. Any water that unexpectedly enters the tube, is drained out through this valve.
Which Snorkel Tube Do I Personally Use?
I didn't buy a top-of-the-range snorkel tube, but I did get one that works well with my Scuba diving gear and Scuba mask.
I bought a mid-range snorkel with all the bells and whistles, and I believe, is well worth the money. My snorkel has a flexible tube, a comfortable silicone mouthpiece, a splash guard, and a purge valve. It's also a dry-top snorkel tube.
Which Traditional Snorkel Do I Recommend?
Below are my top 5 models of snorkel tubes. Each is a quality snorkel tube and has been selected for a different reason depending on its features. All of these brands are well-known brands that design and manufacture quality Snorkeling and Scuba products. You honestly can't go wrong with any of these.
Oceanic Ultra-Dry 2 Snorkel - Top Rated
The Oceanic Ultra-Dry 2 Snorkel is extremely comfortable which makes for many more hours of enjoyable snorkeling. This snorkel has a great fresh look with a Dry Top snorkel that remains dry even at depth.
Cressi Supernova Dry Snorkel - Great Price
TUSA Hyperdry Elite II Snorkel - Great Choice for Snorkeling and Scuba
Genesis Surf Snorkel - For the Budget Conscious
Cressi Mini Palau Snorkel Package - For the Kids
A really great value snorkel package for the kids is the Cressi Mini Palau package. It comes with a snorkel, face mask and fins - everything you need to get the kids started and enjoying snorkeling. These come in the traditional kids colors of either pink or blue.
These come in 2 sizes, Small or Extra Small. The Small size will also be a good fit for petite adults.
Snorkeling Tips For Beginners
Practice Before You Go
If you're new to snorkeling, it's important that you practice using your snorkel before heading out on your big water adventure.
Begin by taking slow, deep breaths through the snorkel while you are on dry land. This will help you get used to the feeling of the snorkel in your mouth and the sensation of breathing through it.
Then, head to the water and try snorkeling in a shallow area, such as a pool or shallow ocean cove.
While in the water, focus on maintaining a slow, steady breathing pattern and try to relax as much as possible.
With a little bit of practice, you'll be snorkeling like a pro in no time!
The Best Places To Start Using Your Snorkel Tube
Snorkeling is a relaxing water activity, but it uses a lot more energy than you probably realize.
You should always avoid areas with strong currents or waves, as this makes it difficult to swim and breathe. You'll also tire out faster. Snorkeling in calm water is always far more enjoyable than fighting against a current.
Also, just like with most water activities, always snorkel with a buddy. If one of you gets into trouble, then someone will be close at hand to help out.
Maintaining Your Snorkeling Gear
Sun and saltwater will cause even the best quality gear to deteriorate. Make sure you rinse your tube and mask in fresh water after each use, and let them dry in the shade, away from the sun. When not in use, storing in a cool, dry place away from the sun is ideal.
Regularly inspect all of your snorkeling gear for any signs of wear and tear such as cracks, or holes. Make sure you replace it before your next outing. There's nothing worse than discovering a hairline crack in your tube when you're already at the beach.
Other Snorkeling Equipment Worth Considering
A Snorkel Vest
Did you know that snorkel vests are a secret weapon used by many seasoned snorkelers?
These inflatable and deflatable vest-like devices are not life jackets, but they can help extend your time in the water by making it easier to stay afloat. Even fit and experienced snorkelers use them to conserve energy and have a more enjoyable time exploring the underwater world.
So, if you want to up your snorkeling game, consider adding a snorkel vest to your gear collection. You'll be amazed at how much it can enhance your experience!
Swimming Fins (Flippers)
By adding a pair of swimming fins to your gear, you'll have much more fun in the water. These come in a standard snorkeling size, or a travel size. The travel size will work well for most people. Fins help you move through the water with less effort, so are well worth considering.
Ocean Etiquette - Have Fun But Be Aware
Snorkeling can be a great way to explore the underwater world. However, it is important to be careful not to touch or stand on coral. This can not only damage the coral, but you can also cut yourself. Even barnacles on rocks or piers can cause annoying cuts to feet or fingers if you're not careful. Diving gloves and booties (if you're not wearing fins) will help avoid this.
It's also good etiquette to not touch or chase any underwater sea creatures. You'll find that the curious ones will come to you if you stay calm and relaxed. This makes for great underwater photo opportunities.
So, there you have it! No matter what type of snorkel tube you choose, the most important thing is to make sure it's comfortable and fits well.
Snorkeling is a great way to get up close and personal with the underwater world, and it's a lot cheaper than Scuba diving. All you need is a snorkel tube and mask, and you're good to go.
So what are you waiting for? Pick one, and get out there and start exploring the underwater world!