Having been very keen to get my diving qualifications, (and find a treasure chest of gold Mandela coins!), I never imagined that those hopes would be dashed on the rocks of my claustrophobia. I don’t like confined spaces. What a pity then that the watery atmosphere of the ocean unshakeably felt 100 times worse than being stuck in a lift or locked in a small box. After practicing in the pool, I just couldn’t get into the ocean without freaking out. At first I thought it regrettable that I’d have to “resort to snorkeling”, but when I tried it out a few times, I realised that there’s a whole world of snorkelling just waiting to be discovered. I did some training, enquired at a few hotels in Durban for accommodation, then took my goggles and flippers to some prime snorkelling spots to test them out.
I’ve since got quite a bit more experience under my belt and thought I’d share some….
Snorkeling 101 tips with you.
The point of snorkelling is to be able to observe the underwater environment while you flipper about on top of the water’s surface, or just beneath it. So, first priority: you need to be able to see. And you won’t be able to see properly if your mask keeps filling up with water because it doesn’t fit properly. The right sized snorkel mask is the best snorkel mask, and is one that seals correctly to your face; the head strap is just tight enough that the mask seals on your skin, but not too tight that you look like you’re about to have a face transplant. If it’s too tight, it will also break the seal and allow water in.
2. Get the right sized fins
Your fins are your engine, so you need to get fins that will complement your kicking technique. If they are too loose, they’ll fall off and if they’re too tight, they’re likely to cause feet and leg cramps. The correct size of fin will be tight and difficult to get on when your feet are dry, but relatively easy to slip into when your feet are wet. While you’re still a beginner, get shorter fins. As you gain more experience, you can increase the length of your fins for more powerful propulsion.
3. To see or not to see
As already mentioned, you need to be able to see underwater. If you’ve ever seen divers and snorkelers spitting into their face masks and goggles and thought, “Eewww!” it’s not as “eewww” as not being able to see what you came to see underwater. The saliva prevents the inside of the mask from fogging up, but you do also get spray-in products that have a similar effect.
4. Relax. Breathe.
Snorkeling requires a very different through-the-mouth breathing technique. It takes practice, especially when you take it underwater. Don’t get despondent if you can’t do it straight away – the more experience you get with it, the easier it becomes.
Good luck, I hope you have many colorful hours of fish-spotting and enjoyment!
The Snorkel Gear You Need (Piece by Piece)
|F1 Frameless - Black||Cressi||$29.06||One Size||Black|
|Dry Snorkel with Silicone Mouthpiece and Purge Valve||Kraken Aquatics||$36.95||N/A||Black|
|FUN TOES Neoprene Socks||FUN TOES||$49.99||S Kids 4.5-6||Black|
|Palau Short Fins||Cressi||$32.95||Medium/Large||Blue/Azure|
|PROMATE Backpack Style Bag For Mask||Promate||$19.95||Without Mask Pocket||Black|