SNORKELING & SKIN DIVING
A lot of people whether they Scuba Dive or not, enjoy snorkeling. Gliding across the surface of the water observing the life below can be exhilarating and intoxicating at the same time. All of our PADI Instructors and Divemasters are excellent snorkelers/Skin Diver teachers and enjoy the water whenever they can!
If you would like to take Snorkeling/Skin Diving lessons we would be happy to show you not only the basics, but more so a lot of secrets and tips that will make your time on the water’s surface considerably more enjoyable! If you don’t have snorkel gear, no worries. We can provide you with everything you need at no additional charge. On the other hand, you may want to consider getting your own gear. You may think its bulky to travel with, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Snorkel gear when packed correctly (which we can show you how) loads surprisingly compact and weighs very little.
If you want to purchase your own mask, snorkel and fins, it may be a very good idea. It’s true that you can rent equipment day after day at a lot of vacation locations, but keep this in mind: it has been used by 1000 different people! Too often rental gear is in poor condition, low quality (making your experience poor) and who knows the last time it has been effectively cleaned. 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 (goggles are for swimming) available at a considerable price range for snorkeling. One of the most important factors to consider is that your mask fits you well, is comfortable and you can create an air tight seal. If you can’t make a seal, move on to another, plain and simple. Remember, water will find a way into every mask, but minimal is better. One type of mask that we are fond of and we sell a lot of 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” or expel the water out of your mask with a blow or two out of your nose. Necessary? No, but it’s nice, easy and simple.
Snorkels – Similar to masks, there is a wide variety of snorkels to choose from a range of price points. There are basically 3 types of snorkels, open ended, those with a splash guard and dry snorkels.
1) Open Ended ~ These are what they imply; open at the top end. They are a traditional “J-tube” snorkel that is wide open on the top. Word to the wise, if you like involuntarily 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 nausea or vomiting.
2) Splash Guard ~ A splash guard is a unit that covers the open end of the J-tube and is usually slotted to let air in and out. As the name indicates, it guards against the entering of water (per waves or splashes), but by no means will stop water if you submerge your snorkel especially when submerged. These are more effective keeping water out than the old-school open end snorkel, but there is a better choice (see below).
3) Dry Snorkel ~ To me this is a no-brainer and what we use at FFS&S for both Scuba & Snorkeling. This snorkel looks similar to the splash guard snorkel because there is a guard at the top of the snorkel to deflect waves. 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 opening of the top of the snorkel . When this happens, a float lifts up, triggering the covering flap to cover hole where air comes in, thus you don’t take an involuntary drink or gag on the water you are snorkeling in. If the cover is engaged, you can’t take a breath meaning your snorkel is underwater and when you come up a little – walla, you get a nice breath of fresh air. Pretty cool and very simple.
Fins – There are more types of fins out there than I wish to talk about (not really), but there are a few things to keep in mind when considering them.
A. Comfort – A fin should NEVER cause pain or discomfort. The three most common places to have discomfort if the fit is wrong is at the heal, on top of the foot and the toe. Most non-molded fins need to have a boot worn with them. Boots make the fin fit snug, protect from rubbing, keep your feet protected and insulated and allow you to walk on any surface after you remove your fins. At FFS&S we always suggest booted fins for these reasons whether diving in Montana or in the tropics.
B. 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. Though molded fins are preferred by some, many people still wear fins that require fins. When finished snorkeling, one can leave their boots on and walk around after they have finished without worrying about hurting their feet or stepping on something harmful (urchins, coral, broken shells, sea glass, etc). Booted fins can be used in warm OR cold water. Before you snorkel, simply consider the water temperature you will be in, and wear the appropriately insulated boots for the condition to keep you warm and comfortable.
C. Remember, don’t let a sales person “over-sell” you a product. Typically a good pair of snorkeling fins will cost under $80 depending on the performance you are looking for. Of course on the other hand, “don’t go cheap”. Most fins (mask and snorkels included) that can be purchased at “box store” are of low quality. As with most things, you get what you pay for and the experiences that you have on your snorkeling journeys are priceless and irreplaceable. Finally, if you are going to be using your fins for both snorkeling AND Scuba we suggest a higher performance fin which we can assist you with choosing.