Generally people think of tropical waters and coral reefs when they think of snorkeling, for good reasons. The water is warm and the animals are plentiful, however, cold water can provide enjoyable snorkeling opportunities too. For example, the kelp forests of Monterey Bay in California offer some spectacular snorkeling in a cold-water environment. Just be sure to wear a wetsuit when snorkeling in cold water to prevent hypothermia (unusually low body temperature).
Mastering the art of snorkeling is very simple. Snorkeling equipment consists of a mask, a snorkel, and swim fins. That’s it. If you aren’t a strong swimmer you can add a flotation device to your gear for added safety, although that will prevent you from diving under the water for a closer look at interesting sights. Additionally, because you use slow steady kicks to propel yourself and only use your arms to steer, snorkeling is done with a minimal amount of physical exertion. For this reason, a confidant snorkeler can travel fairly long distances over an extended period of time without getting tired. Even if you are a strong swimmer and experienced snorkeler you should always snorkel with a buddy and you should never swim too close to coral formations as you never know when a rogue wave may come along.
As a visitor to a unique environment, there are some guidelines you should always follow when snorkeling (or diving). They are…
- Never touch anything under the water. Touching marine life can be harmful to it and even to you if the thing you touch is poisonous.
- Never stand on coral as this can easily kill it.
- Don’t stick your hand in holes, as you have no idea what might be in there.
- Never remove anything from the water to take home as a souvenir. Not only is it damaging to the marine environment, in most places it is illegal.
The accompanying video goes over basic snorkeling techniques.
To many joyful beach experiences!
— Lisa Dworkin