Hawaii Snorkeling Tips

Hawaii Big Island Snorkeling

Vibrant Coral Reef at Captain Cook

Puffer Fish at kahaluu Beach

1. Be Prepared

Rent high quality snorkel gear from your favorite beach gear rental shop. Properly fitted fins and mask, de-fogger, sun screen and fish ID card will make snorkeling much safer and more enjoyable. Also, it is recommended that you check out booties to protect your feet especially when entering and exiting the water. Check the weather to find out surf, tide, and wind information.

Snorkeling Hawaii

2. Be Careful

Never snorkel in high surf conditions! Also, never snorkel alone, check your equipment fit and function with your buddy. Keep your hair out of your mask. Position the snorkel correctly. Make sure you are comfortable. Now, ease yourself into the water and practice in the shallows. Try to pick an area with easy ocean access, and little waves. Snorkeling at a beach park where there is a lifeguard is the safest option. Once you feel relaxed and confident, venture into deeper waters, but never beyond the capabilities of your buddy. Snorkel equipment will not make you a better swimmer, so go no further than you would have without the gear. If either you or your buddy begins to feel tired, cold, or anxious, return to shore. A relaxed snorkeler gets more pleasure out of snorkeling and a greater appreciation of the environment. A calm snorkeler seems less threatening and when the aquatic wildlife realizes you are not a threat, they resume their normal routine, allowing you to experience their world.

3. Use your Gear Properly

To clear your snorkel, exhale a burst of air through your mouth to blast the water out. Then take a cautious first breath to make sure all the water is gone. In the water, objects look 25% larger (or closer)

Sea Turtle at Spencer Beach

than they really are. You can practice judging distance by floating in very shallow water and reaching down to touch the bottom. This will help you learn how far an “arm’s length” is underwater. Walking with fins on can be uncertain on dry land or on a boat. If you are snorkeling from shore, try putting your fins on and removing them in waist deep water. If you are snorkeling from a boat, don’t put your fins on until it is time to enter the water and take them off at the boat ladder before getting back on the boat.

4. Search for ideal snorkeling conditions

The best time to snorkel or dive in Hawaii is in the morning. Fish are generally more active and you stand a greater chance to see other marine life such as the Hawaiian Spinner

Lizard Fish at Kahaluu

Dolphins. Also, the water conditions are generally more favorable, the winds usually pick up in the afternoon. If there is a sandy beach or sandy bottom near you, chances are the underwater visibility will not be so good. This is especially true if there is any wind or current, as this will stir up the sand from the ocean floor. Snorkeling away from the sandy shore and over a vast reef is much more pleasurable - you can usually see where the sandy bottom ends and the reef begins when standing on shore and looking out over the water.

5. Be Respectful and Have Fun

The reef is a living animal. What may look like merely rocks and plants are most likely thousands of tiny organisms trying to build a home. Therefore, enter, exit, and rest only on sandy bottoms and bare lava.

Raccoon Eye Butterfly Fish

Raccoon Eye Butterfly Fish

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