Oh…how I wish I was heading to the ocean right now. One of our favorite hobbies is to go snorkeling, which is not at all easy to do when we live smack dab in the middle of the Plains. Karen and I first fell in love with snorkeling the very first time that we went which also happened to be our first trip together. We try to go at least once a year although some years it does not quite work out, and we can’t wait until we can go again. So far, we have snorkeled on three of the Hawaiian Islands and off of St. Thomas and St. Johns in the Caribbean, and we have plans for many other places to go but our adventures have not quite taken us there yet. Along the way we have learned a few things and have followed the basics to enjoy our time out on the ocean.
- First rule or tip everybody in or around the ocean should follow is to not turn your back on it. The ocean is an ever moving beast and you never know when a freak wave will come in. So always be ocean aware.
- Get the proper equipment. Make sure the mask and fins are the proper size and the fins are snug but not too tight. If you plan on snorkeling a lot and the fins are too tight you will end up with blisters which can cut your snorkeling adventure short. The mask should fit your face, to find out if it is a good fit put the mask up to your face breathe in, it should stay on without you holding it.
- Snorkel with a buddy, if you are diving deep you should practice the one up and one down rule. Where one of you will dive while the other stays at the surface just in case one of you passes out from the irregular breathing patterns that come with holding your breath there is help nearby.
- When snorkeling relax as much as possible. First the calmer you are the calmer the fish will be. Second if you like to move in the water keep your fins below the waterline and use a dolphin kick to propel yourself. Kicking the water like you are doing a freestyle swim will not only scare the fish but will become annoying to all those around you as they keep getting splashed.
- Bring your own gear if you plan on snorkeling a lot. Karen and I have gotten some good equipment online that was relatively cheap compared to renting them for each vacation. Just make sure that you store it probably and clean it thoroughly from the saltwater after each day out in the ocean and then again when you get home.
- Clean and defog your mask before you go. Karen and I had heard that using a generic non whiting and non gel toothpaste to clean the mask was a recommended method. Basically, the most basic paste toothpaste that you can find. We use our finger to put it on the inside and outside of your mask and clean with your fingers instead of a brush just as an extra precaution to keep from scratching the lens of the mask. We then use defogging drops and follow the directions on the bottle.
- Know where to go before you head out. What I mean by that is set up a plan and do some research about where the best places are to go snorkeling. Will you have to take a boat to get to the reef or are you at a destination where you can find good snorkeling from the beach?
- Be respectful to the ocean it is kind of like going for a hike in the woods, whatever you take in take out. The only mementos that should be taken is with a underwater camera. Never break off coral or take other things, leave it as you found it that way others can enjoy what you just enjoyed.
- Finally, when snorkeling go in the morning, the visibility will be better in the morning before the wind and the waves kick up. To see the most fish while snorkeling, head for structures whether it is rocks, coral, or manmade objects fish will congregate around those things either for food or safety.