Snorkeling History

For thousands of years, mankind has been fascinated by undersea life and continues to make innovative equipment to enhance marine exploration. Sponge divers in Greece are credited as some of the first early people groups who employed devices to prolong their time in the water. These snorkeling pioneers used hollow reeds to breathe surface air while free diving for the sponges that were such an important part of their community's economy. Over the years, snorkeling developed into a popular leisure water sport enjoyed by many people who frequent clear, tropical waters.

Inventing Snorkeling

Although the name andldquo;snorkelandrdquo; came from the cylindrical piece of equipment found on World War II U boats that allowed them to stay semi-submerge by taking in air through the cylinder, the actual concept of a portable breathing apparatus began much earlier. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was one of the first recorded individuals to mention the possible use of breathing tubes. His pupil and contemporary Alexander the Great also invested in andldquo;technologyandrdquo; that used tubes connected to floating air sacks to allow ancient divers to stay submerged for longer periods of time. Aristotle described the early breathing tubes as resembling elephants' trunks, and many early breathing tubes actually used animal parts like rhino horns and elephant tusks for underwater breathing.

Basic Snorkel Equipment

The basic snorkel gear includes mask, fins, and the snorkel breathing tube itself. Snorkel configurations range from a simple J-shaped breathing tube with a mouthpiece attached at its end to a version that includes a sump or drain valve that releases any water trapped within the tube. Many materials like wood, plastic, and natural rubber were used to construct early models of snorkels over the years. Material science experts working to perfect later self contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) diving equipment discovered that natural rubber and plastic became brittle and prone to breaking over an extended period of time in ultraviolet light. However, silicon rubber did not lose its flexible nature over years of exposure to the harsh sun and sea salt, and it became the material of choice for many snorkeling and SCUBA diving pieces of equipment including the snorkel tube and face mask skirt. Leonardo da Vinci was credited with a webbed design that was eventually used for the first swim fins. Additionally, SCUBA diving equipment manufacturers have incorporated prescription lenses into some swim mask designs so that even the seeing impaired may enjoy viewing undersea wonders. With these three pieces of basic snorkeling equipment, swimmers are able to glide effortlessly through water and enjoy the underwater sights.

Traditionally Great Snorkel Sites Worldwide

The United States has some excellent dive and snorkeling sites on its east and west coasts. For example, doing Key West snorkeling tours has become a snorkeling tradition to some who visit the beautiful, laid back islets found off the coast of Florida. Generally, dive shop boats carry divers and snorkelers to calm crystalline waters within the Gulf of Mexico for snorkeling in Key West. Snorkelers on the west coast find the beautiful waters around San Diego to be the perfect playground for the water sport.

Here are some of the top seven international snorkeling and diving sites traditionally frequented by snorkelers in the know other then Key West.

#1 Fiji Islands
#2 Belize
#3 French Polynesian Islands of Huahine
#4 Bonaire Caribbean Island
#5 Safaga Egypt
#6 Seychelles Islands
#7 Norman Reef of Australia

Traditional Ways To Care For Snorkel Gear

The key to maintaining one's snorkeling equipment is by storing it in a cool dry place between uses. This type of storage option keeps equipment away from the harmful UV rays and salt that eventually cause wear. Additionally, one should clean the equipment with a mild soapy solution and dry it with a soft, clean cloth after each use.


Snorkeling was the precursor to SCUBA diving, but it remains a popular way to view colorful marine life playing just below the surface of warm, tropical waters. The practice began over 5,000 years ago as a way to help workers who made their living by harvesting items found under local bodies of water. It is now a relaxing past- time practiced most often by people on vacation. Despite centuries of innovations in snorkeling equipment design, the basic configuration that includes a breathing tube, face mask, and swim fins has not changed much.