The best place for beginners to learn to snorkel is in a warm swimming pool. This will give you time to get acclimated to the equipment without the added element of waves and aquatic life distracting you. If you want to know what gear you'll need, read the Snorkeling Gear: What You Really Need article first. Local swim shops and resorts will have snorkeling gear for you to rent or purchase. If you purchase, you can try them out at your local pool before embarking on your new adventure.
Place the mask on your face and make sure it fits snuggly such that water will not get in, but not so tight that it hurts. Move your hair away from your forehead so the mask seals properly. Men, if your beard is long, it may be time to shave!
Check the snorkel to be sure there is nothing inside that will impede air from getting through. Then, place the mouthpiece into your mouth and check that it seats well without pinching. If it is too large or too small, find one that fits correctly. If you’re germ conscious, buy your own snorkel instead of renting.
Place the fins on your feet. To avoid crams and blisters, check for a good fit i.e. not too tight and not too loose.
If you cannot swim and/or will be in rough or deep water, wear a properly fitting life jacket or inflatable snorkeling vest rated for the water conditions. Talk with an expert who can advise you on what type of life jacket to wear.
Now it is time to get into the water and learn how to clear your mask and snorkel. To clear your snorkel, blow air into it while a part of it is sticking out of the water. To clear your mask, hold it against your face and blow out through your nose. Try this several times until you get the hang of it and it becomes second nature for you.
Kick your feet and use your fins to slowly propel yourself through the water. Keep your head near the surface so some of the snorkel is sticking out of the water. Breathe slowly, in and out, making sure you are not breath water in. Swim around the pool in this fashion until you feel comfortable.
Duck diving refers to how a duck dives while fishing. For humans, bend at the waste, point your head down, and use your arms to pull you down. Once your feet are all the way in the water, kick your legs and fins. Mastering duck diving allows you to get under waves and allows you to see turtles and other creatures deeper under water. You will need to hold your breath until you’re near the surface again, and, you will not be able to duck dive wearing a life jacket.
What next? Watch the beginner videos on this page several times. One video is situated in the USA and the other is from Maldives in the Indian Ocean. When you feel comfortable with what you’ve learned, it’s time to go out into the sea or ocean. Before you do, review the Seven Snorkeling Safety Tips for Beginners article and remember to always snorkel with a buddy! Happy Snorkeling!