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 instructors and Divemasters are excellent snorkelers that enjoy the water whenever they can!
If you would like to take snorkeling 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. As a mater a fact, 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 snorkel equipment, that will probably be a good idea. It’s true that you can rent equipment 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 cleaned.
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 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 I am fond of and we sell a lot of are “purge masks”. When water works its way into your mask, there is a built in purge valve in he 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 ~ Are what the say. The 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 worse.
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, but by no means will stop water if you submerge your snorkel. Smaller amounts of water will also enter if waves hit it too. These are better than an open end snorkel, but there is a better choice (see number 3).
3) Dry Snorkel ~ To me this is a no-brainer and what we use at tFFS&S for both Scuba & snorkeling. This looks similar to the splash guard snorkel because there is a guard at the top of the snorkel to deflect waves. BUT, within the splash guard of the dry snorkel there is a “hole cover” on a fulcrum that closes when water sneaks within about 1-2 inches of opening of the snorkel opening. 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. Simple, if you can’t take a breath, your snorkel is underwater and when you come up a little – walla, you get a nice breath of fresh air. Pretty cool.
Fins – There are more types of fins out there than I wish to talk about, but there are a few things in mid when purchasing them.
A. Comfort – A fin should NEVER cause pain. The two most common places to have discomfort if the fit is wrong is at the heal 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 the preferred, many people still wear booted fins so they can leave their boots on and walk around after they have finished diving without worry of hurting their feet or stepping on something harmful. Booted fins can be used in warm OR cold water. Simply depending on the water temperature, you just 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 decent pair of snorkeling fins will cost under $100 depending on the performance you are looking for. Take my word for it, “don’t go cheap” though. You get what you pay for and the experiences that you have on your snorkeling journeys are priceless.