Wearing the Right Apparel for a Snorkel

Stay stylish, comfortable and protected from the sun’s hazardous rays on your Key West snorkel adventure. Depending on conditions and your own sense of style, you can opt to cover with anything from reef-friendly sunscreen and bikini to a t-shirt, surfer fashions or a light wet suit.

On the Upper Body

Most of the time you’ll be floating face down in the water watching the brilliant undersea world below, all the while exposing your back to potential painful burning. You can, of course, make sure to stay slathered in sunscreen on this most vulnerable area, or you can choose to cover your upper body. A t-shirt is an easy and cheap option, but choose a synthetic fabric rather than heavy and slow-drying cotton. A close-to-the body fit is best for aerodynamic movement through the water. Popular in the world of surfing, rash guard shirts are light, stylish paneled shirts with crew necks and ultraviolet light protection. Choose long or short sleeves in a wide range of colors and styles for cool, comfortable sun protection. They dry fast once you're back on the boat as well.

Lower Body

Though men’s legs are usually fairly well protected from the sun’s rays by longer swim trunks, women’s bikinis and one-piece suits leave upper thighs exposed to hours of harmful sunlight. Upper hamstrings tend to be even more exposed than the back while snorkeling, leading to potential severe discomfort. Take a tip from surfer girls and borrow the boys’ board short bottoms. “Boardies” now come in a super and fashionable range of styles and colors.

Stylish Safety Gear

If you’re not particularly confident in your swimming ability or just like an extra level of safety while in the water, add a snorkel vest to your snorkeling wardrobe. Normally yellow or orange in color, vests give additional visibility, particularly important if you’re in an area frequented by a lot of motor craft. They also protect if seas get rough or you get caught in an unexpectedly strong current or heavy wave activity. Vests are designed to be inflated for surface swimming and deflated for diving beneath the surface for a closer look at corals or sea life.

Cooler Waters

Even in tropical areas like Key West, waters can be cooler at certain times of the year. While you may be comfortable in boardies and a t-shirt in hotter seasons, under chillier conditions you may want to add some form of wet suit to your snorkeling wardrobe. Available options/coverage include neoprene, vests, neoprene jacket, a wet suit with short sleeves and legs (spring suit) or a full wet suit.

On the Boat

Don’t forget to keep comfortable and protected while on the boat. If you pop off that wet t-shirt or rash guard when you climb on board, be sure to slather more sunscreen onto vulnerable areas, and be sure to re-apply when you get back in the water. Most sunscreens, even those classified as water resistant, are only guaranteed for up to forty minutes in the water. Backs, backs of legs, necks and hands are particularly at risk. Stay protected, get your style on and have fun!