Question of the day: Do you need to know how to swim to snorkel?

Snorkeling is one of Maui’s top activities to do! Maui’s underwater world is teeming with life. You can see tropical fish, green sea turtles, coral reefs and so much more when you snorkel in Maui!

But what if you don’t know how to swim? Do you need to know how to swim to snorkel in Maui?

The quick answer is no, you don’t have to know how to swim to snorkel in Maui!

Although knowing how to swim will make snorkeling easier, it does not mean you need to know how to swim to be able to snorkel in MauiSnorkeling is a popular activity because anyone can get a glimpse of the underwater world with almost no experience or expensive equipment!

The concept of snorkeling was first documented in 350 B.C when Aristotle used an elephant reed to breathe underwater but It is also said that sponge farmers in ancient Greece used snorkel style methods as far back as 3000 B.C.! Modern swim fins were first patented in 1933 by French inventor Frenchman Louis de Corlieu, modeled after an earlier design created by Benjamin Franklin, who loved spending time in the ocean. The term “snorkel” was coined in 1945 and is derived from the German word “Schnorchel” meaning submarine, related to the German term for snore! Although snorkeling has come a long way, the same tips for snorkeling apply!

5 Tips for Snorkeling in Maui if you don’t know how to swim!

Make sure your snorkeling equipment fits properly!

It is important your snorkel gear fits correctly! Fitting your snorkel gear will ensure your mask is not leaking water and your fins stay on securely. When you go on a snorkeling trip with Hawaii Ocean Rafting, we size your mask and fins to fit comfortably and safely so you can enjoy your snorkeling trip! 

When fitting your mask, you want it to suction to your face when you breathe in prior to placing the strap on the back of your head. Avoid a mask that puts pressure on your nose or forehead, which leads to discomfort the longer you are in the water! If you have facial hair, you may want to shave for a better mask fit

You want your fins to also fit snugly, not too tight where they are pinching, but know that once you get in the water, they will loosen so make sure they are a good fit when trying them on prior to snorkeling. There are many styles of fins to select from, for snorkeling a medium length with a comfortable foot pocket is perfect for a casual swim! You can check our local Maui dive shops that sell snorkel gear in Lahaina like Snorkel Bobs and Boss Frogs.

Practice with your snorkel equipment!

If you purchase snorkel gear, put it on and practice breathing through the snorkel tube. You will be breathing through your mouth only, which works best when you relax and don’t overthink it! You can do this on land or in a pool or bathtub! Fins are not to be worn on land. If you want to practice with fins, walk into the pool or ocean prior to putting your fins on. Put your mask and snorkel on first, then sit in the water and place your fins on your feet. This will ensure you do not trip walking to the ocean (and also keep you from looking like it's your first time snorkeling! Lol )

Use Flotation Devices!

Our snorkel tours provide flotation devices for all snorkelers including float belts and pool noodles. We do not recommend wearing a life jacket for snorkeling as it is made to float your head above water. When you are snorkeling you want to float your body but allow your face to be in the water so you can see underwater while breathing through your snorkel tube! Float belts are perfect for this as they fasten to the snorkeler's waist and then float your mid section. Pool noodles can also be placed under your arms and waist for even more buoyancy and comfort. We also provide 2mm short sleeve wetsuit tops to rent which not only provide warmth and sun protection but also add more flotation while snorkeling.

Get Snorkel Instruction!

Our best recommendation for learning to snorkel if you don’t swim is to have snorkel instruction! Our Maui snorkel tours provide snorkel instruction for all levels of snorkelers, beginner and experienced! We will show you how to fit your snorkel gear properly, how to breathe through the snorkel, use floatation devices and how to safely enter and exit the water. We have a marine naturalist snorkel guide that snorkels in the water with you for the duration of the snorkel tour as well. It is also our goal to take you to the best places to snorkel in Maui where you can snorkel with turtles, tropical fish and see lots of marine life!

Always Snorkel with a Buddy!

Snorkeling with a friend is a safe snorkel practice whether you are a beginner or an experienced snorkeler. Equipment can malfunction, weather and ocean conditions can change or you may feel ill, having someone snorkeling with you ensures they have your back in case of an emergency or you need assistance!

When in doubt don’t go out!

How do you know if the location you are snorkeling is safe to go to? We suggest checking local snorkel reports either online or calling snorkel shops nearby. Lifeguards are often stations near beach locations where you may snorkel. Ask the lifeguards and also look for signs that say warnings like “High Surf”, or “Shark Sightings”. If it has rained recently and the water is murky, avoid snorkeling. Not only is there increased bacteria and low visibility, predatory fish may be in these waters hunting for other fish and it is not safe to snorkel until the water becomes clear again. Ask locals and snorkel places where other people are snorkeling as well!

Learning about snorkeling and the ocean can help you feel more comfortable when you are snorkeling even if you don’t know how to swim. Put your best fin forward by keeping these snorkel tips in mind and booking a snorkel tour with a guided snorkel company for one-on-one instruction and a glimpse into Maui’s underwater world!