Can You Swim Underwater With a Snorkel?

Snorkeling is an activity that allows individuals to get a better look at the underwater world that is mostly hidden to us on land. Those who haven’t been snorkeling before may wonder how close they can get to all this beauty – and for the most part, it’s actually not too difficult at all to get up close and personal with marine life, coral formations, and much more.

Are you supposed to swim underwater with a snorkel?

While snorkeling itself is a popular hobby and there are many people who do enjoy diving down into the depths, the majority of individuals prefer to stay closer to the surface or generally don’t feel the need to go deeper. Lightly swimming (or even just floating) is often more than enough, especially for those who just want a relaxing experience. 

Mostly, snorkels were made for people to stay close to the surface and explore the sea in a whole new way without going too far down. There are times where someone might want to get a better view of what’s going on below, even just to see a tropical fish that swims past. A snorkeler can certainly swim towards something of interest and dive down; it’s often not too difficult an activity at all.

How to properly swim downwards while snorkeling

When diving downwards, the swimmer’s tube will fill up with water – and it can’t be cleared until the user is back at the surface. It is quite a common practice among snorkelers to expel unwanted liquid, particularly the more experienced ones, but it’s not too difficult to master for those with little to no experience. In most cases, all that a person will need to do in order to clear the snorkel of water is to give it a strong blow. As long as the user is above the surface when they do this, they should be able to remove most (if not all) of the water, and be able to breathe normally again until they need to dive back down.

Some people prefer to use a purge snorkel, which can help to ensure that as little water as possible gets back into the user’s mouth.

Diver Swimming Underwater - Free photo on Pixabay

How is it different to scuba diving?

Those who are hoping to go down and swim with marine life for longer periods of time may be more interested in scuba diving. Snorkeling doesn’t need any expensive equipment outside of just the snorkel itself, while scuba diving requires regulators, tanks, and more. However, it’s these things that allow a scuba diver to breathe underwater for much longer periods of time.

It’s very possible to use a snorkel to swim down, although use will be limited when compared. Predominantly, snorkeling is best for those who want to relax on the surface of the water and watch marine life pass by. Another thing to consider is that to snorkel, a person won’t need any training or certification, while scuba diving generally does. In fact, it’s often advised that people take a diving buddy with them in case anything should happen.

Overall, snorkeling is a safer and more relaxing activity than scuba diving, and generally comes at a much lower cost while also offering a view of the beautiful aquatic world.

Do you need experience to snorkel?

With that being said, it is often wise to have an understanding of snorkeling and safe snorkeling practices before going ahead and trying it. It’s not too hard to find the information on what’s best to do/what not to do, and it can be so easy to follow these guidelines at any skill level; from beginner, to professional. Even for those without much swimming skill, snorkeling can be easy to pick up, so essentially anyone can enjoy the experience of snorkeling without any difficulty.  

Scuba diver swimming underwater, Bonaire, Caribbea Netherlands Print |  Media Storehouse #13054629

Safety and comfort while snorkeling

While snorkeling is often an incredibly safe activity when done responsibly (much like when swimming in general), there are a few things that are worth considering before going out to sea for an underwater adventure. One of the most important factors outside of anything that can be done physically while snorkeling is the equipment that’s used, as it’s often far safer and generally much more comfortable to invest in high-quality products. These can be purchased for a reasonable price both online and in a range of stores (some will be dedicated to underwater activities in specific, but many sports and general department stores will often stock them, too).

The mask itself is one of the most important aspects to think about. Not only is it worthwhile for the experience as a whole to have a decent mask, but also for how safe you are when using it underwater. It’s not uncommon for a cheaper one to suffer with leaks, which aren’t ideal at all when trying to focus on the ocean’s scenery. It’s wise to find a good fit, since a mask that’s too big or small could easily allow water to get in, too. Shatterproof glass is also a necessity for goggles, or alternatively a solid plastic; as long as it’s a quality product, it should be fine. When it comes to the snorkel itself (the tube) it’s the same case as above – look for quality. It might be worth getting a purge snorkel, or splash protection models.

While not necessary, it’s certainly worth getting a pair of fins, too. These can allow an individual to swim faster and overall have a more enjoyable experience. There are two types, with one best suited to snorkeling and warmer waters (closed heel fins) and the other being ideal for cold waters and scuba divers (open heeled fins). Aside from this, it’s best to pick ones that are the right size. If you want to learn more about the differences between open and closed heel fins check this article here.

With all these things, snorkeling just below surface level and even swimming deeper can be made far more enjoyable and safer. Those who can trust their equipment to do its job can focus on their own well being while taking in the beauty around them.