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Noob to Snorkeling! HELP!


LukeyC
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Hi!  My husband, 16 year old daughter, and I will be cruising to Cozumel and want to do a snorkeling excursion that goes to 3 reefs.  Being a noob to snorkeling, I have many questions!

 

1.  My husband will do a traditional snorkeling set with the kind of tube that won't let water inside of your mouth.  My daughter and I will be getting full face masks.  I have to due to TMJ and the fact that plankton creeps me out. If I got it in my mouth, I would throw up.  Are there any brands you guys would recommend that are decent yet won't break the bank?

2.  I want to get a rashguard for us to prevent sunburns.  The rest of our bodies need sunscreen, but I think you're supposed to use the environmentally friendly stuff, right?  Could you recommend a decent one?

3.  I also want to get a swim belt--one of those sort of floatation devices because I want to spend my energy looking for cool fish etc and not treading water or swimming.  I can swim though--just not the strongest swimmer for long distances etc. I have also seen pictures and video of people snorkeling, and a lot of times it looks like they're treading water with their necks craned downward.  I am not that floaty, so I could see that being me-and I don't want a neck ache after 3 hours of that--so I thought the foam belts that go around your waist would be good.   Do you think the snorkeling tour place will allow those belts?  I know we might look totally dorky, but I figured as long as it helps our experience, all is cool. 🙂

4.  OK--so a few years back when we went on a Disney cruise, we waded along the shore looking for shells. When we returned to the boat, we removed our swim shoes, rinsed them, and sat them in the tub to dry.  The next day, those shoes reeked so bad we had to throw them away.  I sort of figured that little creatures like plankton may have gotten caught in the crevices of the shoes and died making it smelly???? What can we do to prevent that from happening this time? And will it happen with our swim suits and snorkel stuff too? (This would be the first time I would be submerged in the ocean, so forgive my ignorance!)

5.  Should we get ear plugs so the sea water won't go in our ears? Is there a benefit to doing this?

6.  We plan to practice in some pools with the snorkel gear before the cruise.  Having never done it for real before, I'm a little nervous but excited to stretch out of my comfort zone.  Are there any snorkeling tips you could offer to us noobs? 

7.  Could you recommend some decent disposable underwater cameras?  Also---let's say we purchase those disposable cameras...where do we get the pics developed? I didn't even know places developed film anymore.

 

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

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Rather than try to explain all that stuff,go to a local dive shop,ask their recommendations,try on some gear ask to try it out in their pool,they also may have a snorkeling class or some type of instruction.

most of all,don’t overthink it,snorkeling is mostly floating ,looking down and a 

little kicking with fins. Those folks that look like they aré treading water are doing it wrong. Good luck enjoy your trip!

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18 hours ago, LukeyC said:

Hi!  My husband, 16 year old daughter, and I will be cruising to Cozumel and want to do a snorkeling excursion that goes to 3 reefs.  Being a noob to snorkeling, I have many questions!

 

1.  My husband will do a traditional snorkeling set with the kind of tube that won't let water inside of your mouth.  My daughter and I will be getting full face masks.  I have to due to TMJ and the fact that plankton creeps me out. If I got it in my mouth, I would throw up.  Are there any brands you guys would recommend that are decent yet won't break the bank?

 

IMO, the Easybreath by Tribord is the best full faced mask. We've tried Head and a couple knock off brands but the Tribord is the best and worth the price.

 

Quote

2.  I want to get a rashguard for us to prevent sunburns.  The rest of our bodies need sunscreen, but I think you're supposed to use the environmentally friendly stuff, right?  Could you recommend a decent one?

 

We bought rashguards at Bealls in Florida which worked pretty well. You can buy them online as well.  Frankly I think just about any brand that has a UV rating will work.

 

Quote

3.  I also want to get a swim belt--one of those sort of floatation devices because I want to spend my energy looking for cool fish etc and not treading water or swimming.  I can swim though--just not the strongest swimmer for long distances etc. I have also seen pictures and video of people snorkeling, and a lot of times it looks like they're treading water with their necks craned downward.  I am not that floaty, so I could see that being me-and I don't want a neck ache after 3 hours of that--so I thought the foam belts that go around your waist would be good.   Do you think the snorkeling tour place will allow those belts?  I know we might look totally dorky, but I figured as long as it helps our experience, all is cool. 🙂

 

Any snorkel excursion you take is going to provide flotation vests and most will require you to wear them for liability sake. No need to go buy one. Beside, you are much more buoyant in salt water then in regular water.

 

4.  OK--so a few years back when we went on a Disney cruise, we waded along the shore looking for shells. When we returned to the boat, we removed our swim shoes, rinsed them, and sat them in the tub to dry.  The next day, those shoes reeked so bad we had to throw them away.  I sort of figured that little creatures like plankton may have gotten caught in the crevices of the shoes and died making it smelly???? What can we do to prevent that from happening this time? And will it happen with our swim suits and snorkel stuff too? (This would be the first time I would be submerged in the ocean, so forgive my ignorance!)

 

Just rinse your stuff well and there should be no smell.  Sometimes I will wear my swimwear into the shower and soap up wearing it.

 

Quote

5.  Should we get ear plugs so the sea water won't go in our ears? Is there a benefit to doing this?

 

Unless you have problems with ear infections, plugs aren't needed.

Quote

 

6.  We plan to practice in some pools with the snorkel gear before the cruise.  Having never done it for real before, I'm a little nervous but excited to stretch out of my comfort zone.  Are there any snorkeling tips you could offer to us noobs? 

 

Just relax, float and enjoy the view. Scissor kick your legs for propulsion, don't "bicycle" kick.

 

Quote

7.  Could you recommend some decent disposable underwater cameras?  Also---let's say we purchase those disposable cameras...where do we get the pics developed? I didn't even know places developed film anymore.

 

 Do they even make disposable film cameras anymore?  Sometimes excursions will send a photographer with you who will take photos and then sell them to you on a SD card, or a download. It seems expensive but you don't need your own camera and often times the photos are really good.  Or you can look for an underwater housing for your digital camera or phone camera.

 

Quote

 

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

 

Answers in bold above.  Have fun on your cruise

Edited by mac66
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  • 3 weeks later...

The blow up vest is what i use if i have to. They pack small and you can adjust the level of air when wearing it.

Yes, a rashguard is necessary. Something you should consider is matching shorts to protect the top back of your legs if you burn easy. I bring a little sample size bottle of woolite and handwash the clothes in the shower with me. I take 2 so I don't have to wear a wet rashguard. If you don't get a full face mask, most likely you will have a snorkel in your mouth, so you shouldn't get anything in your mouth. In all these years, I've never got anything weird like plankton in my mouth.

Hope this helps.

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  • 4 months later...

1. My wife uses a Tribord Easybreath.  I wear a traditional mask and snorkel, so I can get a mask with prescription lenses.

 

2. Any swim/snorkel shirt with a decent SPF will do the trick.  I think ours are Ocean Pacific.  As for reef-safe sunscreen, I would rely on the Hawaiian recommendations here: https://www.hawaii.com/blog/reef-safe-sunscreen/

 

3. Unless you're super athletic with no body fat, you should float quite well on salt water.  You'll be far more buoyant in salt water than in fresh water.  But if you want the extra buoyancy, I'd recommend an inflatable snorkel vest.

 

4. I'm not sure what happened with your shoes.  That sounds a bit atypical, but you might have stepped in something a lot worse than average (and a lot larger than plankton).  I typically just rinse my gear in fresh water (mostly to get the salt out).

 

5. I've never felt the need to use ear plugs.  If you have problems with your ears, they might be worthwhile, though.

 

6. Practicing in a pool is a good idea.  For your husband (or anyone using a traditional mask) don't exhale through the nose.  He'll fog up his mask.  (If your full-face mask fits properly, you won't have to worry about it.)  If he fogs up his mask, he can rinse it off in seawater to defog it.  Try to find a good YouTube video explaining the proper way to kick with swim fins on.

 

7. Have you considered getting a waterproof case for your smartphone?  Or for your regular camera?  I think you'll be much happier with the results.  Taking photos underwater is more challenging than normal, and the disposable cameras make it substantially more difficult.  Look for a case that's good to at least 30' deep ... and get a floating wrist band to attach to it.

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  • 1 year later...
On 5/9/2019 at 1:08 AM, LukeyC said:

Hi!  My husband, 16 year old daughter, and I will be cruising to Cozumel and want to do a snorkeling excursion that goes to 3 reefs.  Being a noob to snorkeling, I have many questions!

 

1.  My husband will do a traditional snorkeling set with the kind of tube that won't let water inside of your mouth.  My daughter and I will be getting full face masks.  I have to due to TMJ and the fact that plankton creeps me out. If I got it in my mouth, I would throw up.  Are there any brands you guys would recommend that are decent yet won't break the bank?

2.  I want to get a rashguard for us to prevent sunburns.  The rest of our bodies need sunscreen, but I think you're supposed to use the environmentally friendly stuff, right?  Could you recommend a decent one?

3.  I also want to get a swim belt--one of those sort of floatation devices because I want to spend my energy looking for cool fish etc and not treading water or swimming.  I can swim though--just not the strongest swimmer for long distances etc. I have also seen pictures and video of people snorkeling, and a lot of times it looks like they're treading water with their necks craned downward.  I am not that floaty, so I could see that being me-and I don't want a neck ache after 3 hours of that--so I thought the foam belts that go around your waist would be good.   Do you think the snorkeling tour place will allow those belts?  I know we might look totally dorky, but I figured as long as it helps our experience, all is cool. 🙂

4.  OK--so a few years back when we went on a Disney cruise, we waded along the shore looking for shells. When we returned to the boat, we removed our swim shoes, rinsed them, and sat them in the tub to dry.  The next day, those shoes reeked so bad we had to throw them away.  I sort of figured that little creatures like plankton may have gotten caught in the crevices of the shoes and died making it smelly???? What can we do to prevent that from happening this time? And will it happen with our swim suits and snorkel stuff too? (This would be the first time I would be submerged in the ocean, so forgive my ignorance!)

5.  Should we get ear plugs so the sea water won't go in our ears? Is there a benefit to doing this?

6.  We plan to practice in some pools with the snorkel gear before the cruise.  Having never done it for real before, I'm a little nervous but excited to stretch out of my comfort zone.  Are there any snorkeling tips you could offer to us noobs? 

7.  Could you recommend some decent disposable underwater cameras?  Also---let's say we purchase those disposable cameras...where do we get the pics developed? I didn't even know places developed film anymore.

 

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂


#1 definitely stick with the tribord other brands are hit & miss on evacuating the carbon dioxide you exhale.

#2 you can get long sleeve rash vests and leggings (look for surf leggings)  then you only have to worry about face/ears for the reef safe sunscreen and use your regular sunscreen once you’re out of the water. 
#3 I dunno .. I’ve put on so much weight I’ve an in-built buoyancy belt.

#4 smelly gear... you may have strayed into some toxic algae (red tide type stuff), you can get odour eliminator/shampoo products for wetsuits that would probably help get rid of that in the future. 
#5 ear plugs - these are recommended for cold water countries. When you get cold water trapped in your ear canal then the canal can start to get occluded which makes you prone to infections. Eventually it can lead to deafness. Surfers and swimmers in Ireland or similarly cold countries absolutely should be using ear plugs. There are ear plugs specifically designed for surfers which still allow you to hear but prevent the water getting in. They range from a few bucks to $70+ , the high end brand is literally called “surfears”, they come with 4 sizes in the pack and a leash to prevent losing them if they fall out. 
#6 pool practice is definitely a great idea to make sure you are comfortable with your mask and fins. Try to get an hour session in to make sure your feet don’t cramp in the fins or they don’t get loose. Also it will help to see if you get lightheaded from the full face mask.

#7 forget disposable, get a GoPro knock off, there’s heaps on Amazon for a tenth of the cost. They are compatible with the GoPro attachments and you can get a mount which will let you attach it to the full face mask. The mount slots between the mask and snorkel. You can just set the camera to record video or sequential pictures.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  1. I am not a fan of the full face masks. They may work, but there is a lot of talk on carbon dioxide poisoning. I don't know of any study or research on it, but there is talk of it on several sites. Regardless, you need to be able to test what you buy to insure it works. Unfortunately, I would think those types of masks are WYSIWYG. There are not size differences between them or not that much I should say.
  2. Instead of "rash guards" there are SPF lightweight shirts that are SPF50. I have had skin cancer before and I use these religiously since I found them 3 years ago. They even have ones with hoods now. They are extremely lightweight, quick drying, and I absolutely love them. I get mine at Sam's club (Habit I think is the brand). Where I am, they only get them in around March and sell out quickly. They just got a few in for girls/women. I got my daughter 2.
  3. Not sure what to answer on this one. I know excursions have some flotation devices, but not sure what they would have. One I looked at has pool noodles to hold on to which would suffice your needs. I would talk to your excursion people on what they recommend or have.
  4. For the smell, you need to soak anything with sea water in it. Rinse them thoroughly. As someone mentioned, wear the stuff in the shower and let soap rinse through them too. The faster drying things will have less smell. Letting dry in a dark place without circulation is going to cause mold regardless of what water is in it. I doubt what you smelled was "plankton".
  5. Ear plugs are not necessary unless you have issues in a pool too. Whatever microbes you are worried about in the ocean water will get in through other openings in your body as well: pores, nose, mouth, etc. I had severe ear problems growing up in FL. Never had an issue with sea water causing them. The ear problem was caused by something else not water related (don't want to tell the gross details).
  6. Only tip is to get gear that fits YOU. I was shocked at how different things fit and felt. It was crazy to find that the most expensive fins worked and fit best, but the cheapest mask worked best. The masks ranged from $25 - $500. I did spend $175 on my fins. My daughter's were $100 and mask was $45. I highly recommend not using Amazon. You will be in for headaches with returns or settling for what does not work perfectly. And by doing that, you will think snorkeling is not that much fun. 
  7. Do not get a disposable underwater camera. You are wasting money and you will almost never get a decent shot. If you want to take underwater pictures that are really good and not too expensive (I don't know your financial situation), get an Olympus TG-4 or TG-6. They are also good for taking other pictures as well. You can hold out for Black Friday, you should be able to get them under $300. If not in a rush, you can get used TG-4 for about $150. Just keep your eyes out on the used site. Olympus refurbished has good deals on them time to time as well. Sometimes 25% off the refurbished price. 
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  • 1 month later...
On 5/11/2021 at 1:08 PM, bigrednole said:
  1. I am not a fan of the full face masks. They may work, but there is a lot of talk on carbon dioxide poisoning. I don't know of any study or research on it, but there is talk of it on several sites. Regardless, you need to be able to test what you buy to insure it works. Unfortunately, I would think those types of masks are WYSIWYG. There are not size differences between them or not that much I should say.
  2. Instead of "rash guards" there are SPF lightweight shirts that are SPF50. I have had skin cancer before and I use these religiously since I found them 3 years ago. They even have ones with hoods now. They are extremely lightweight, quick drying, and I absolutely love them. I get mine at Sam's club (Habit I think is the brand). Where I am, they only get them in around March and sell out quickly. They just got a few in for girls/women. I got my daughter 2. (Snipped)


1. In all the reviews I’ve read comparing the full face masks the Tribord from decathlon is the only one that consistently gets good marks and has no anecdotal evidence of CO2 poisoning. 
2. Any reputable rash guard is SPF50+ these days, I work in a surf shop and every brand we stock is rated SPF/UPF 50+. There is now a growing range of t-shirts and long-sleeved tees made with the same materials and rated upf50+ as well, the difference would be that the rash guards are skin tight whereas the tees are “relaxed fit” so may be more comfortable for some people. Oh and yes there are hooded long sleeve rash guards which are upf50+, I’ll be ordering one from one of our suppliers for myself as protection against jellyfish. 

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  • 1 month later...

As the first response said -- take a class. (My recommendation, (I'm certified by this organization) https://www.padi.com/courses/skin-diver).  All your questions explained, answered.  Practical experience, and a whole lot of confidence and comfort.  CAUTION: An instructor will have to explain about full face masks and ear plugs, there's issues and big considerations for both.

As for sunscreen, I don't like wearing it.  I'm a blond haired blue eyed Norwegian, and I spent a week on the Mexico barrier reef wearing full body rash guard and a hat.  No sunburn, hardly even a suntan.

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