Continued from Home Page

Beginner Tips

.......environment.  Snorkel gear is really very basic. All you really need is a mask and snorkel. Fins are optional if you are going to be in shallow water and snorkel for brief periods only. At many beaches, you don't have to swim far or into water over your head see marine wildlife. So, the most important thing is to have a well fitting mask and snorkel. Nothing is more frustrating than a leaky or foggy mask.  Whether renting or purchasing a mask and snorkel, try on several.  If purchasing, the extra dollars spent on well fitting equipment will be well worth it if you are going to spend any amount of time in the water.  How much time you spend in the water will be directly proportionate to how well your snorkel gear fits you.   If you don't enjoy using it, you'll end up leaving it at home and missing out on one of the very reasons you came to the island. .


 Masks are manufactured using one of two materials: neoprene or silicone. The masks manufactured with the highest amount of silicon will be the most comfortable and last the longest . If you think you may  advance to the next level, scuba diving, definitely go with a silicone mask.  There are different shaped lenses to fit different facial bone structures. Women with high cheek bones should look for a mask that has a lens that is more triangle shaped (triangle point to the bottom) to fit over higher cheek bones.  The wider the lenses are, the more peripheral vision you will have. Handy for when that tarpon swims past you or spotted eagle ray makes an investigative pass.  To test for a proper seal,  place the mask against your face without using the strap.  Inhale through your nose to create a vacuum suction. The mask should stay in place for as long as you keep inhaling.
If the mask falls off or you feel the suction releasing, then this mask doesn't have the proper fit for you. Choose a different one and re-test it . Also be sure the mask's lenses are made with tempered glass and are shatter-proof.  Plastic or cheap glass lenses scratch and break.  Also look for an adjustable strap.  The mask should fit comfortably on your face. You should not have to over-tighten the strap.   It is not the tightness that seals, it's the proper fit.
To keep your mask from fogging up, you can purchase  a defogger. However, a good wad of saliva rubbed on the inside of the lenses and then rinsed twice in the water works just as well, if not better.

A NOTE about FULL FACE MASKS: There are a published notes of CAUTION about using them. PLEASE RESEARCH and read SEVERAL opinions about using them. There has been deaths connected to their use.


Select a style of your snorkel that allows free flowing air and it fits you comfortably.  The mouthpiece should fit between your teeth and lips without binding or chaffing.  The barrel (breathing tube) should be against your ear.  Take some deep breaths through the snorkel to test the ease of breathing.  


As mentioned earlier, fins are not really required if you plan on staying in shallow water. Every fish, creature, coral and plant in this ID GALLERY was photographed while snorkeling.  If you are an inexperienced swimmer and/or snorkeler, practice your floating and snorkeling techniques in shallow water over sand or sea grass bed to prevent damage to yourself and the delicate coral structures. Once you are confident and comfortable remaining in an horizontal position floating on the water surface, gradually make your way to the rocky shores and reef structures. If you want to use fins, purchase a pair of short swim fins. That's all you'll need. Shorter fins are easier on your ankles and legs, safer for the corals AND you can walk in them!!!