Snorkling worth to try?

 In Marine Life @Tayrona National Park, Fish & Corals in the Caribbean Sea, PADI courses

Have you ever considered scuba diving, but the idea terrifies you?  Do you worry that you aren’t the best swimmer, and don’t feel comfortable jumping into the deep end (puns fully intended)?  Would LOVE to dive, but have medical reasons why you can’t?  Have you ever considered snorkeling?  No?  Well – I’m here to tell you – you should!  

The underwater world is a fascinating world!  It is full of color, of fun, of sheer unadulterated joy!  Honestly!  You can see just about every color of the universe in the ocean.  You can see fish of all sorts of sizes and shapes.  Some are gorgeous – like the Queen Angelfish or the Rock Beauty.  Some are hilarious – like (one of my personal favorites) the trumpetfish or the Smooth Boxfish.  Some are just fun to watch, like garden eels or damselfish.  And, one of the most amazing things about being in the Caribbean?  All of the ones named can be seen snorkeling – and most in water shallow enough to stand up in!  (be careful if you do stand up, though!  You can damage the reef if you stand on it… best to swim over to a sandy area and stand up there). 

For me – snorkeling was my first look into the ocean.  I had swum before.  In fact, I was thrown into a pool at eight months old – and have been swimming pretty much since.  But – it wasn’t until my senior year of high school, that someone suggested snorkeling when I was on a family trip to Bermuda – and I was hooked!

One of the best things about snorkeling is that the equipment is pretty inexpensive and easy to carry in a travel bag.  The only things you really need is a mask and a snorkel.  If you are fancy, you can get some fins too.  If you’re not a great swimmer, you can use a life jacket, or a flotation device.  And – if you haven’t snorkeled before – it’s easy.  You put the mouthpiece in your mouth, the mask on your face – and you’re ready for primetime.  The snorkel allows you to breathe in and out easily.  And – if a wave goes over and you suck in some water – you simply need to blow hard into the snorkel to “purge” the water out of the tube.  Easy peasy!  (One other tip: because you are swimming at the surface of the water – you may want a shirt/rashguard, because otherwise, it is easy to burn if your skin is prone that way).  Want some tips to snorkel?  No problem.  Just about every dive shop in the world offers snorkeling classes.  Want to try out equipment before you buy it?  No problem.  Shops also rent equipment.

Why bother going to an aquarium, when you have a chance to put a mask on your face and head into the fish’s home environment?!  I mean – think of how different you might act if someone visited you in a cage or if they came into your home and watched you.   With a mask, snorkel and some fins, you can visit fish in the natural habitat!  And – what a joy it is!  You can see the fish chasing each other, and playing and just plodding along.   When people ask me why I dive – these days – there are a lot of reasons.  But, my first love in diving was 100% – the fish!  I once spent about two hours laughing with a friend as we looked through a fish book.  Fish are hilarious.  And – there is plenty to see from shallow depths!

The great thing, though, is once you build some confidence, you can experience even more!  I snorkeled with whale sharks in Mexico.  It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  And, I never had to breach the surface!  I also snorkeled in a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico late at night.  That was like being in the Matrix, watching lights all around you.  There is a whole world to be exposed to right at the surface of the ocean!  You can do it at day or night, by yourself or in a group.  And, it is magic!

I know plenty of people who dive and snorkel.  Sometimes, diving has too much equipment, or there isn’t sufficient time or something like sinus problems have kept people from being able to dive.  But, snorkeling is a great alternative.  Sure – it’s probably fairly unlikely that you’ll see an octopus.  You likely wouldn’t see one diving either.  Friends tell me they have seen all sorts of things at those shallow levels – even eels, turtles and sting rays.  

Also – if you get more comfortable, and want to try it, free diving uses the same equipment, you just swim down.  In fact, people have gone to astounding depths with just their lungs!  The world record in free diving is 120 meters (360 feet)!  But, don’t worry.  Us mortals are not really expected to go to such depths without some equipment to help us along the way – but free diving is a way to start exploring depths without having to be saddled with a tank.  The first step to exploring the world of the ocean is with a snorkel!

And – who knows… maybe you’ll be like me – and a couple times snorkeling won’t be enough.  You’ll want to see and experience more. The ocean is vast, and deep – and we know so little of it! So, maybe eventually you will want to try diving. But, maybe not. Maybe you’ll love snorkeling and have zero desire to go any deeper than the surface. You know what?  That’s okay! Do you!  But, please – if you have ever seen a picture of a fish – and you’ve smiled, or giggled or even just paused. Do yourself a favor, and come experience the joy of hanging out with fish as they chill at home! 

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