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How Does a Snorkel Work Underwater?

There’s not much that can compare to the experience of exploring the underwater world, which is one of the main reasons why snorkeling is such a popular hobby and activity for individuals across the globe.

Some people prefer to float on the water’s surface, facing downwards, and watch the scenery and marine life below without disturbing it. On the other hand, diving down and swimming with the fishes, getting up close and personal with the aquatic world, is also something that many individuals love to do.

Regardless of how people choose to explore the sea, they’re going to need some equipment – although mainly, the only thing that’s needed in almost every situation of underwater adventure is a snorkel or at least some variation of one.

How do snorkels work?

Today’s quality snorkels tend to be both lightweight and practical, which makes the whole experience easier and more enjoyable in general. In most cases, they’re not too tricky to put on and use either.

An anti-leak seal goes over the top of the snorkel to prevent any water from getting into the breathing tube while it’s above surface level (which could quickly happen if someone splashes nearby or if a large wave breaks, for example). For underwater adventures, there’s a mechanism inside which stops any water from coming in. The masks’ purge valves get rid of any unwanted water from the tube with a deep breath, so shallow breathing is relatively safe during use in most cases.

Of course, this can all depend on the type of snorkel used. There are different kinds available for different price points: wet, semi-dry, and dry. Each has the essential components – the opening, tube, mask clip, reservoir of air, and mouthpiece. Semi-dry ones, however, also have a splash guard, a purge valve, and a flex tube. In addition to this, a dry one will have a float valve. Each piece makes a difference to the overall function of the snorkel, so picking the right one is often important. Not only that, but a user also needs to ensure that their snorkel is appropriately fitted and comfortable for it to work efficiently – and it’s always best to invest in a quality one for the desired results.

What are snorkel masks?

While different from the detached kind mentioned above, Snorkel masks have a similar purpose and can be more beneficial to some individuals. They’re often integrated into a swimming or diving mask, which makes things much more straightforward for many users. A full-face mask allows users to breathe through the mouth and nose, as the tube is connected to the top of the mask rather than to the individual’s mouth. Like standard snorkels, they also have anti-leak seals and valves to prevent water from getting in.

With these, it’s essential to come back up to the surface frequently to replace the dead air inside with fresh oxygen before going back down.

What are snorkel masks for? | Focus | Breaking Travel News

Which type is best?

A question that many people ask when faced with the decision of which type of snorkel to get is which one is “best” – although in most cases, there simply isn’t one answer that fits all individuals. Instead, a few factors can help a person determine which one will be most suitable for their needs. 

A plain, ordinary snorkel tends to have just swimming goggles and a tube (both separate) to allow for the easiest experience possible. In most cases, a mask is best suited to surface snorkeling. The main reason for this is because they need to be fitted with valves to shut off the mask’s air inlet when underwater. Without them, water would flood in, but individuals need to come back up for air reasonably often as the mask runs out of clean oxygen. 

Depending on the model used, a detached snorkel can be good for a large number of underwater activities, such as:

  • Spearfishing
  • Finswimming
  • Underwater hockey 
  • Underwater rugby

Alternatively, an individual could wear a scuba diving mask to snorkel. In most cases, they’re not too dissimilar at all, with most diving masks simply having the lenses and a rubber skirt that seals against the face to prevent any water from getting in (which is connected to the breathing tube). There are a variety of shapes and styles of diving masks, which can be helpful for people who are hoping to find one that’s best for their individual needs.

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What other equipment is needed for snorkeling?

In most cases, a person will find that they don’t need anything other than their snorkel to explore the beautiful world beneath the surface – although there are other things that can be used. In certain situations, some pieces of equipment can actually be necessary. Here are a few examples of things that an individual might want/need to have: 

Swim Fins 

Essentially anyone who’s hoping to swim or partake in underwater activities should consider getting swim fins. Also called flippers, they can often help wearers swim much more efficiently since human feet are naturally too small (as well as not the right shape) to provide much thrust when moving underwater.

Scuba fins are essential for you to have a better diving experience, and you might find it challenging to find the right pair of fins. Check out our article Best Scuba Fins for Beginners and find out our top 5 picks.


Wetsuits are commonly used by individuals who plan to participate in water sports and other aquatic-based activities. There are quite a few reasons why they can benefit those who plan to travel below the surface. Often, they can provide thermal insulation, buoyancy, and protection from ultraviolet exposure and abrasion, as well as more minor stings from marine organisms.

Weight belt

While snorkelers use a few weighting systems, weight belts tend to be the most common. Often, they’re made of durable and tough nylon webbing and have a quick-release buckle in case of emergency. Rectangular lead blocks with a plastic cover are some of the most popular on the market. The amount of them needed can generally vary based on the buoyancy of the wetsuit and the requirements of the wearer.