Snorkeling Tips For Beginners And Non Swimmers


Your first snorkeling adventure can be exhilarating and also a little intimidating. It's natural for beginners to have questions and concerns about their safety and abilities while snorkeling. If you're gearing up for your inaugural underwater exploration, our snorkeling tips for beginners and non-swimmers will alleviate your concerns and prepare you for the incredible world of snorkeling.

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Picture yourself gliding through crystal clear waters of Turks and Caicos, surrounded by vibrant marine life. Snorkeling is a thrilling adventure that allows you to explore the underwater world firsthand. But before you take the plunge, it's crucial to be aware of the do's and don'ts of snorkeling. Our guide is full of snorkeling tips for beginners and non swimmers and even friendly reminders for the most advanced snorkelers.

In this article, we'll share essential snorkeling tips for beginners and non-swimmers to ensure you have a fantastic experience. From understanding snorkeling equipment to mastering basic techniques and practicing environmental awareness, these snorkeling tips for beginners will help you dive into the ocean with confidence and make the most of your snorkeling adventures. So, grab your gear and get ready to explore the captivating underwater realm while staying safe!

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Images of colorful fish while snorkeling

Why Should You Snorkel? The Benefits Of Snorkeling

Snorkeling isn't just a leisure activity; it's an invitation to a world of wonder beneath the waves. Imagine floating effortlessly, surrounded by a symphony of colors while vibrant fish dart around you. This underwater kingdom holds secrets waiting to be unveiled, and snorkeling is your ticket to this enchanting world.

If you're a beginner snorkeler, you're going to experience so much more than just swimming in the ocean, you're going to immerse yourself in a whole new world of underwater adventure.

Snorkeling Connects You with Nature

Snorkeling allows you to become part of the marine ecosystem, even if just for a little while. It's a humbling experience to witness the intricacies of marine life in their natural habitat. From the graceful movement of a sea turtle to the vibrant hues of coral formations, every moment spent snorkeling is a chance to connect with nature on a profound level.

The Health and Relaxation Benefits Of Snorkeling

Beyond its beauty, snorkeling offers health benefits too. The rhythmic motion of swimming is a great workout, engaging muscles and boosting cardiovascular health. Moreover, the serene environment of the underwater world promotes relaxation and reduces stress – a true mental escape.

Snorkeling is Easily Accessible

Unlike scuba diving, snorkeling doesn't require extensive training or certification. It's an activity that almost anyone can enjoy with minimal equipment and preparation. This accessibility makes it an ideal adventure for families, groups of friends, or solo explorers looking to immerse themselves in the ocean's mysteries. Whether your a beginner snorkeler or someone who isn't a great swimmer (that's me), snorkeling is easy to learn and enjoy.

Snorkeling Creates Educational Adventures

Snorkeling is an educational journey for all ages as much as it is an adventure. As you observe various marine species and their behaviors, you gain insight into the delicate balance of ocean life. This newfound understanding can foster a sense of responsibility and appreciation for marine conservation.

The Unforgettable Memories Of Snorkeling

Whether you're snorkeling in a tropical paradise reef or exploring a local seaside pier, the memories you create will stay with you forever. The sense of awe as you peer into the underwater world, the joy of encountering a playful school of fish, and the tranquility of floating weightlessly – these are moments that become cherished memories. You can take your underwater cameras and GoPros, but nothing can replicate the act of snorkeling and the memories it creates.

Snorkeling tips for beginners. Basic equipment needed for snorkeling. Mask, snorkel and fins in the sand.

Understanding Your Snorkeling Equipment – Beginner Snorkeling Basics

Before embarking on your snorkel journey, it's essential to understand the equipment you'll need. Your primary snorkeling gear includes a mask and snorkel, or full face snorkel mask and fins. And of course, a life vest or safety float belt if you aren’t yet comfortable with your swimming level or are a non-swimmer. While all these snorkeling tips for beginners are important, it's extra important to ensure all your equipment fits properly and is in good condition. 

Masks and Snorkels

A leaky mask or an ill fitting snorkel can dampen your snorkel experience and compromise safety. It's important for beginner snorkelers to use comfortable and reliable equipment. This is key to enjoying your underwater adventure worry free. Your mask should fit snuggly around your eyes and face to ensure there's no leakage (or at the very minimum a few drops) into the mask.

If you're staying at a resort in Turks and Caicos, many resorts offer the free use of snorkel equipment and have a variety of sizes on hand. However, if you’re not staying at a resort, we’d advise you to bring your own. This is the best way to ensure you get the proper fit for your gear and will make you feel a lot more secure when snorkeling, especially if you are a beginner or a little apprehensive to start.

Myself being a non-swimmer, I prefer using a full face snorkel mask as opposed to the separated mask and snorkel. I find the breathing mechanism in the full face snorkel mask easier to use which for me, creates a much more enjoyable and relaxing snorkeling experience.

How To Fit And Use Your Snorkel Fins

Your fins are a vital part of your snorkeling experience. They are what glide you effortlessly through the water. It’s important your fins fit properly to ensure you have an enjoyable snorkel experience. Your fins should fit tightly around your foot. You do not want a gap at your heel or too much room for your toes to move about. Reason being, once you’re in the water, they will slide off and head to the ocean floor if they aren’t tight and secure. A good fitting fin will help propel you in the water saving you tons of energy while snorkeling.

One of the most awkward parts about being a beginner or first time snorkeler is trying to walk in those pesky fins. Ok, sure you’re not going to be walking for miles in your fins, however, you may be trying to get from the beach to the water or from the seat on your tour boat to the edge of the boat to get in the water. Either way, it’s always worth a little test walk. Lift those feet nice and high to ensure you don’t trip on the front edge of the fin.

If you’re snorkeling from the beach, it’s always easiest to sit at the water's edge to put your fins on then you can simply start snorkeling right away.

Learn How To Prevent Snorkel Mask Fogging

Snorkel mask fogging can obstruct your vision and spoil the snorkeling experience. To prevent fogging, before entering the water, apply a defogging solution. Most snorkel tour operators will already have applied this to your snorkel mask, but if you’re planning to snorkel off the beach, it’s handy enough to keep some solution in your beach bag.

Another tip is to rub a small amount of toothpaste or baby shampoo on the inside of your mask and rinse it off before you head out to the water. Avoid touching the inside of the mask after rinsing off either option to maintain clarity.

Life Vest Or Flotation Device/Belt

As you know, I am not a good swimmer and consider myself a non-swimmer. I don’t trust my skills to keep me out in the water for long periods of time, especially if I can’t touch the bottom. For me, I never snorkel without a life jacket or vest. This would be number one on our snorkeling tips for beginners. I just feel safer in the water and it allows me to enjoy snorkeling worry free. I like to pack my own inflatable life vest and keep it in my beach bag, just in case I don’t have access to a rental during our beach adventure days. 

If you plan to do a snorkel tour during your stay in Turks and Caicos, it’s mandatory that you use a safety float belt provided by the tour company. You can use one or two depending on your comfort level. They want you to have a wonderful snorkeling experience and will provide all means necessary to ensure you do.

Beginner snorkeling tips: Always be aware of location and weather conditions before snorkeling. A green flag waves in the wind to signal good conditions for swimmers.

Preparing for Snorkeling – Snorkeling Tips For Beginners

One of the most important snorkeling tips for beginners is being prepared. Before you head to your snorkeling spot, take the time to make a few necessary precautions and preparations. This will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable snorkeling experience.

Location And Weather

This is an vital snorkeling tip for beginners. The ocean is beautiful but it can also be incredibly unpredictable. Research your snorkel location beforehand and be aware of any potential risks or hazards.

Check the weather and sea conditions to ensure safe snorkeling conditions. If there's warning flags out, take their word for it. Don't assume you know more than those who already know the area. Even though the water may look calm from the shoreline, you can't see rip currents or other hazards so follow the advice of what's posted in the area. Remember, snorkeling safety starts with proper preparation.

Know Your Snorkeling And Swimming Level

Before venturing into the water, it's important to assess your snorkeling and swimming abilities. Be honest with yourself and choose snorkeling locations and conditions that match your skill level. Beginners and non-swimmers should opt for calm, shallow waters to gain confidence and experience before tackling more challenging spots.

If you're a beginner, it's helpful to brush up on basic swimming skills before venturing into the water. Even if you’re a non-swimmer, you can still put on your life vest and practice your swimming basics. Remember, mastering these techniques will enhance your comfort and confidence underwater.

Even if you are an avid swimmer, it’s always best to snorkel with a life vest if you’re snorkeling in unfamiliar areas.

Avoid Alcohol Consumption Before Snorkeling

Alcohol and snorkeling do not mix. Alcohol impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction time, making it dangerous to snorkel under its influence. Stay sober and fully alert to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

By all means, enjoy a few rum punch or cold ones after your snorkeling adventures and listen to ever growing tales of the underworld.

A man sits in the shallows with his snorkeling fins on ready to snorkel

How To Snorkel – Snorkeling Tips For Beginners

How to snorkel for beginners. To be honest, it might appear to be complicated, but it's really not. Snorkeling is quite simple and that's why it can be enjoyed by so many.

Breathing In Your Snorkel Mask

Breathing properly while snorkeling is essential. If you're using a traditional mask and snorkel, breathe through your mouth using slow, deep breaths to avoid fogging up your mask. Practice clearing water from your snorkel by exhaling forcefully.

While a full face snorkel mask allows you to breathe through both your nose and mouth comfortably, the same techniques apply by using slow, deep breaths to avoid fogging.

Most important tip for beginner snorkelers, is not to panic while wearing your mask. Practice in a pool to get comfortable and familiar with how it works to ensure you stay calm in the open water.

Float Naturally

One of the key elements to mastering the art of snorkeling is to float naturally. It's not just about staying afloat; it's about achieving a state of calm and comfort that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the underwater adventure. Continue to breathe slowly and evenly as stated above and then focus on floating to find your comfort zone.

By learning to float effortlessly, you conserve energy, reduce anxiety, and gain better control over your movements. This skill will not only enhance your connection with the marine environment, but will also enable you to observe marine life without causing disruptions.

Once you're in the water and you have your face in the water, floating naturally will ensures a calm and enjoyable experience and make your snorkeling adventure all the more enriching.

Let Your Fins Do The Work

Listen up! This is a game changer in the realm of snorkeling tips for beginners. Though snorkel fins may feel awkward at the start, the magic of allowing your snorkel fins to take the lead is going to give you the most enjoyment on your snorkel adventure.

These unassuming tools are your ticket to effortless propulsion, enabling you to cover greater distances and conserve your energy. By embracing the gentle rhythm and flow of your fins, you'll find yourself gracefully maneuvering through the water, giving you more time to observe and appreciate the sights around you.

Letting your snorkel fins do the work enhances your snorkeling experience by providing comfort, control, and an opportunity to truly savor every moment of your underwater journey.

Dry Bag

If you're heading out on a snorkeling tour, keep your camera gear and towels dry in a handy dry bag. Ideal for snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. We love our Arteesol 20GL Dry Bag from Amazon.

A couple snorkels together for safety. The Buddy System in effect.

Snorkeling Safety Guidelines in the Water

The Buddy System

Never underestimate the importance of snorkeling with a buddy. Having someone by your side provides mutual support and ensures that help is readily available if needed. Stay within your comfort zone and know your limits. Pushing yourself too far can lead to exhaustion or panic.

Dealing With Emergency Situations

In the unlikely event of an emergency, it's crucial to remain calm. If you feel fatigued or experience cramps, signal your buddy and head back to shore or your snorkel tour boat.

If your equipment malfunctions, such as water entering your mask or snorkel, take a moment to assess the problem and fix it or exit the water to do so if necessary/possible. Readjusting your mask in the water may feel a little awkward at first so do what's best for your comfort level. Prioritize your safety and address any issues promptly.

This is another reason why I like using a life jacket or vest when snorkeling. Should I end up having to re adjust my mask in the open water, the life jacket gives allows me to focus on sorting out my mask instead of worrying about staying afloat. It's just an added layer of support and confidence for me.

Don't Snorkel At Dawn, Dusk Or In Murky Waters

Snorkeling in low light conditions or murky waters can be very risky. When visibility is poor it makes it difficult for yourself to navigate which potentially increases the chances of accidents. Boats in the area won't be able to see you either further increasing those chances of an accident.

Stick to snorkeling during daylight hours in clear waters for optimal safety and enjoyment.

A lone water bottle sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Environmental Awareness While Snorkeling

As snorkelers, we have a responsibility to protect the beautiful underwater world we explore. Respect fragile coral reefs by avoiding contact and ensuring you don't damage them with your fins.

Dispose of any waste properly, both in and out of the water. Let's preserve these incredible ecosystems for future generations of snorkelers to enjoy.

Don't Touch Marine Life Or Coral and No Standing On The Reefs

Resist the temptation to touch or disturb marine life or delicate coral formations. Keep a respectful distance to protect the underwater ecosystem. Standing on coral can cause irreparable damage, so always float or swim above reefs without making contact.

As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to touch or disturb marine life. Observe and admire from a respectful distance.

Don't Take Any Marine Life Or Coral Home With You

Well, you would think this was a no brainer, but sadly we need to mention this. It is so important that you don’t touch marine life or coral as mentioned above, but also that it remains in its current environment and habitat under the sea. While breaking off just a little piece might not appear to be a big deal. It is.

These ecosystems rely on stability and current and constant growth to thrive. Any damage or disruption to these structures can cause major setbacks in their continued growth. Let’s all do our part and keep things as they are in these magnificent underwater worlds while we appreciate their beauty as we snorkel. 

Don't Further Pollute The Ocean

Beyond respecting marine life and coral reefs, it's crucial to remember not to pollute the oceans. Avoid introducing any foreign substances into the water, whether it's plastic, litter, or any other waste. Be vigilant in disposing of your trash properly and pick up after those who may have left theirs at their feet. By leaving no trace behind, you contribute to the preservation of these remarkable environments for generations of snorkelers to come.

Only Wear Reef Safe Sunscreen When Snorkeling

Using reef safe sunscreen is a crucial aspect of responsible and environmental awareness while snorkeling. While you prepare for your snorkeling adventure, don't forget to pack reef safe sunscreen. Traditional sunscreens contain chemicals that can harm coral reefs and marine life when they wash off your skin and into the water. These chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been linked to coral bleaching, which devastates the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

Reef safe sunscreens, on the other hand, are formulated to minimize harm to underwater environments. They typically use natural, non toxic ingredients that provide effective sun protection without polluting the water. By choosing reef safe sunscreen, you're not only safeguarding your skin from the sun's rays but also contributing to the preservation of the underwater world you're eager to explore.

Before you embark on your snorkeling journey, make it a point to check the label and ensure your sunscreen is reef safe. Your responsible choice will play a part in the long-term health and vitality of coral reefs and marine habitats, ensuring they remain vibrant and thriving for generations of snorkelers to come.

Frequently Asked Questions – Snorkeling Tips For Beginners

What is snorkeling, and is it suitable for beginners?

Snorkeling is the practice of swimming on the water's surface while observing underwater life through a snorkel mask. It's absolutely suitable for beginners, offering an accessible entry point to the underwater world.

What equipment do I need for snorkeling?

You'll need a mask, snorkel, and fins as the essential gear. Ensure they fit well and are in good condition for a comfortable experience.

How do I prevent water from entering my snorkel?

Exhale forcefully to clear water from the snorkel. Practice this technique in shallow water until you're comfortable.

Can I wear glasses while snorkeling?

Yes, you can use prescription masks that accommodate your glasses or opt for contact lenses if you prefer.

How do I know if a snorkeling location is safe?

Research the area beforehand, considering factors like sea conditions, currents, and local guidelines. Opt for calm, designated snorkeling spots for a safer experience.

Is it necessary to know how to swim to snorkel?

Basic swimming skills are recommended, but you don't need to be an expert swimmer. Stick to shallow waters if you're less confident in your swimming abilities. Again, I can't swim and I love snorkeling.

How do I avoid mask fogging?

Apply a defogging solution or a small amount of toothpaste to the inside of your mask before entering the water. Avoid touching the inside of the mask afterwards.

Can I snorkel alone?

It's safer and more enjoyable to snorkel with a buddy. Having someone nearby enhances safety and shared experiences.

What should I do if I feel tired while snorkeling?

Signal your buddy and head back to the shore. Don't push yourself if you're feeling fatigued.


Snorkeling offers a unique window into the wonders of the underwater world. By following these snorkeling tips for beginners and non-swimmers, you can set off on your adventure with confidence, knowing that you're well prepared and aware of potential risks.

Prioritize safety, respect the marine environment, and make unforgettable memories beneath the waves.

Now it's time to put on your snorkel gear and dive into an experience you'll cherish for a lifetime!


The Half Day Sail and Snorkel is our pick for The #1 Best Thing To Do In Turks and Caicos. To get a feel of what your day will be like, be sure to give the article a read.

Here's a few tours offering the half day sail and snorkel in Turks and Caicos.

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About The Authors

Hello, we're Kerry and Byron Glover, the founders of Corks and Tacos - Your one stop guide to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

We've been traveling to Turks and Caicos multiple times per year since 2014 and we created this website to share our love and passion for Turks and Caicos with you. We provide you with useful travel planning tips and give you a "real person" perspective on all the wonderful things this Island has to offer. We look forward to you exploring our site and gaining valuable knowledge within our resources for your next vacation. We’re sure you’re going to love Turks and Caicos just as much as we do! Read our full story...

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