SNORKELING & FREE DIVING
All of our PADI Instructors and Divemasters are excellent snorkelers/skin divers and enjoy the water whenever they can! If you would like to take snorkeling/skin diving lessons we can show you the basics and so much more. We can teach you secrets and tips that make your time on the water’s surface more enjoyable! If you don’t have snorkel gear, no worries. We can provide you everything at no additional charge. You may want to get your own gear. Snorkel gear, when packed correctly, (which we can show you how) loads compact and weighs little.
It’s true that you can rent equipment at most vacation locations, but it has been used by 1000’s of different people! Often rental gear is in poor condition, low quality (making your experience poor) and who knows the last time it has been effectively cleaned and/or serviced. Our staff has personally witnessed gear being turned in and directly hung back up for the next renter. In one word, nasty!
When purchasing equipment, keep a few things in mind:
Masks – There are a wide variety of masks for snorkeling. One of the most important factors is that your mask fits you well, is comfortable and it creates a tight seal. If you can’t make a seal don’t buy it. One type of mask are “purge masks”. If water happens to work its way into your mask, there is a built in purge valve in the nose pocket that allows you to “purge” the water out of the mask with a blow out of your nose.
Snorkels –There are 3 types of snorkels, open ended, those with a splash guard and dry snorkels.
1) Open Ended ~ These are open at the top end. They are a traditional “J-tube” snorkel. Word to the wise, if you like drinking salt or fresh water, this is the snorkel for you. If it goes under water or a wave splashes over it, you’ll get to experience the “local flavor” whether you want to or not. On a side note, ingesting salt water tends to cause vomiting.
2) Splash Guard ~ A splash guard is a unit that covers the open end of the J-tube and is slotted to let air in and out. It guards against water entering (per waves or splashes), but will not stop water if you submerge your snorkel.
3) Dry Snorkel ~ I use this for both Scuba & Snorkeling. This snorkel looks like the splash guard snorkel because there is a guard at the top of the snorkel. Hidden within the splash guard of the dry snorkel there is a “hole cover” on a fulcrum that closes when water sneaks within 1-2 inches of the opening. When this happens, a float lifts up, triggering the covering flap to cover hole where air comes in, thus preventing the drinking of local flavor. If the cover is engaged, you can’t take a breath. When you come up a little, you get a nice breath of fresh air.
- Comfort – A fin should NEVER cause pain or discomfort. The three most common places of discomfort is at the heal, the top of the foot and the toe. Most non-molded fins have a boot worn with them. Boots make the fin fit snug, protect from rubbing, keep your feet protected, insulated and allow you to walk on any surface after you remove your fins. I always suggest booted fins for these reasons whether diving in Montana or in the tropics.
- Whether to get a molded fin which goes on like a slipper or one that requires you to wear a boot, there are a few things to consider. If you will ONLY be snorkeling in warm water, either type will work just fine. Molded fins are preferred by some, many people still wear fins that require boots. When finished snorkeling, one can leave their boots on and walk around. Booted fins can be used in warm OR cold water. Consider the water temperature you will be in, and wear the appropriate insulated boots for the condition to keep you warm and comfortable.
- Don’t let a sales person “over-sell” you a product. A good pair of snorkeling fins will cost under $80 depending on the performance you are looking for. Don’t go cheap. Most fins (mask and snorkels included) purchased at “box store” are of low quality. You get what you pay for. The experiences that you have on your snorkeling are priceless and irreplaceable. Finally, if you are going to use your fins for both snorkeling AND Scuba we suggest a higher performance fin.