One of my favorite activities to do when in port is to snorkel. The Bahamas and the Caribbean have fantastic spots to snorkel with a variety of sea life to see. Over the years I have learned a few things that might help in making your next snorkel trip better.
Of course one of the most important parts of snorkeling is the equipment. Now I usually will take my own mask and snorkel but do not take fins. On most beaches where you are going to snorkel, you will find a shop that rents equipment you might need including flippers and vest. A note about vest, there are places and require you wear a vest when snorkeling so pay attention to any of these rules.
If you take your own, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money if you are just doing casual snorkeling. You spend $25 to $30 on Amazon or at the local big box store on a snorkel and mask. But, you can also visit local dive shops to get advice on equipment for a more serious adventure. A note about snorkels, be sure to get one with a float valve, this will allow you to dive because it closes when you go under water and opens when the tip goes above the surface.
Here is a recent review of snorkel equipment by ScubaOtter.
Some of the ones they recommend.
A great way to get a positive snorkel experience is to take an excursion featuring snorkeling. They will usually take you to deeper water and will have guides who will educate on the sea life. The spot is usually is over a reef so your are sure to see some fish and other marine life.
I took an excursion in Nassau, Bahamas where they took us out to a reef in the bay between New Providence Island and Paradise Island. Great guides and the locations was filled with fish like sergeant majors and a few big fish. And of course the trip almost always finishes with a little rum punch for the ride back. One of the perks of these trips is they will provide the equipment if you did not bring your own plus its a little more controlled. Perfect for the novice.
What do you need?
There are a few items you will want to take other than the snorkel equipment.
There is this idea that if you are in the water you are somehow protected by sun. WRONG!! When you are in the water, the sun is reflecting off the water and it can burn you very quick along with the fact that the Caribbean Sun is very powerful. You will also want to make sure your back is covered along with the back of your neck, legs and the bottom of your feet. Yes, the bottom of your feet. You will be on your stomach for a good bit of the time so the bottom of your feet and the back of your legs will be face up. I have burned my calves before and it hurts.
If you are snorkeling from the beach, you might encounter rocks while entering the water and even as you get out further and want to stand. These will prevent bruising and cutting up your feet. For example in Grand Turk there is an area on the other side of the pier perfect for snorkeling but the beach is lined with rocks. Or even in Princess Cay, there are lots of rocks along the shore.
If you can, get an underwater camera to video or take pictures. A tip, make sure you have it attached to your wrist or neck so you don't drop it. Of course GoPro is a popular brand but there are plenty of good options out there at a lower price point.
Other helpful tips
Last but not least
Remember, this environment belongs to the sea life and you are just a visitor.
Doing these things will ensure we have these places to visit again for a long time.
I hope this article contained some tips which are helpful for your next snorkel adventure. The ocean is amazing and you will be in awe of what you will see.
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