Snorkeling allows swimmers in the open water to observe the sea and coral life below by looking through a mask and breathing through a tube called a snorkel.
Typical equipment used for snorkeling includes a snorkel or dive mask, which covers the nose; a snorkel to breathe through; and fins that help to minimize the energy a snorkeler expends. Many snorkelers also choose to wear a life vest for safety and to improve buoyancy in the water.
Although most snorkeling is done during the day, on the surface of the water, night snorkeling is also a popular activity, along with free diving, where a snorkeler holds their breath and dives below the surface. Free diving allows snorkelers to get an up close and personal look at marine life. It cannot be done with a life vest on.
The best places to snorkel are reefs that are protected from the open ocean, attract marine life and have plenty of visibility. Beach snorkeling is good but snorkeling in the open water by taking a boat can ensure better visibility.
A major hazard when snorkeling is sunburn, which can occur on your back, which is exposed to the sun; to prevent this, wear a wetsuit or rash guard.
Be aware that snorkeling is hard work. Make sure that you have some energy reserved for swimming back to the boat when you are finished snorkeling.
Swimming in the open water comes with some inherent dangers. Unexpected currents and riptides can pull a swimmer far from shore. To escape a riptide, swim parallel to shore. Once you are free from the riptide, swim diagonally back to shore.
Unseen underwater hazards like rocks can cause injuries. Quick changes in water temperature can make it hard for even strong swimmers to move through the water.