Learn Some Basic Snorkeling Skills
Snorkeling Key West reefs, bays and coves opens up a breath-taking world of undersea wonders. After learning just a few basic skills, you can spend hours suspended above incredible coral formations, cliffs and other underwater structures, home to an amazing variety of marine life.
Safety is the primary rule of snorkeling. First, of course, you’ll need basic swimming skills to stay afloat, move through the water and keep going for a while. If you're not confident in your swimming skills, take a basic class or wear a floatation device like a snorkeling vest or water noodle. Above all, never snorkel alone; emergencies can arise quickly and you may need a buddy. If you’re just starting, try snorkeling off the beach where you can stand up and rest a bit before continuing on. Snorkeling in shallow, sandy areas will also let you get the swing of entry and exit from the water and management of your equipment more easily.
Basic snorkeling gear consists of a mask or goggles, snorkel tube and fins. However, this simple trio comes in a mind-boggling range of styles, prices and sizes. Keep in mind that you’ll be mainly concerned with fit; no one wants to be in the middle of a thrilling Key West snorkeling adventure and find themselves with a constantly leaking mask, lost fins or endless mouthfuls of water. An occasional leak in the mask or snout full of water is inevitable, but with properly fitted gear, you’ll minimize these problems.
When starting out, get your gear on and try it out first in a swimming pool or sandy-bottomed beach with a good shallow area. This way, it’s easier to learn to relax while breathing through the snorkel with your face down in the water. Make sure your mask is free of fog and is on snugly - not too loose or too tight around the eyes and nose. Adjust the height and angle of your snorkel and make sure it’s comfortable where it attaches to the mask strap and doesn’t break the mask seal around your face. Once your face is in the water, practice purging your snorkel by blowing hard into the mouthpiece, forcing water out the top.
A key component is successful snorkeling is to stay relaxed. This isn’t a swimming race. Swim along slowly, letting your large leg muscles and the fins do much of the work. Fast swimming should only be necessary for safety. The snorkel limits your breathing, so it’s important to keep your activity level where you don’t need to breathe heavily. Use the basic flutter kick or dolphin kick with your arms by your sides to reduce drag. It takes some time to get used to breathing through the snorkel. Once you’re more comfortable, you can move along to more advanced moves like diving under the surface either head or feet first.
The Joy of Snorkeling
The true joy of snorkeling is letting yourself enjoy being buoyed by the salt water while experiencing the wondrous sea life around you. It’s more fun than athletic and can be enjoyed by most people. Always remember to treat the marine environment with care and courtesy. Don’t touch corals or sea creatures as they can be easily harmed. Above all, enjoy the peace and wonder of the natural world.