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What to Wear Snorkeling

Snorkeling trips are fun and exciting, but so many things can go wrong if you don’t know what’s required for a snorkeling excursion, especially as a beginner. What should you wear when snorkeling?

You at least need a snorkel and a mask when going for a snorkeling adventure. There are many more items to make your experience safe, comfortable, and enjoyable, such as fins, snorkeling booties, sun protection, and a wetsuit.

Here’s my list of everything you need to wear for a thrilling, memorable snorkeling adventure.

Snorkeling packing list

Bringing the right items when snorkeling boosts your comfort, safety, and enjoyment.

Here is an overview of the critical snorkeling equipment you should wear and what to look for when renting or buying your gear.


A mask is critical when snorkeling because it helps you see your way through the underwater world.

A high-quality mask is a must. Ensure it fits your face snugly and doesn’t fog up or leak so you can have a pleasant snorkeling experience.

The best way to confirm if your mask is a perfect size is by pressing it against your face and inhaling it through your nose. If it suctions to your face and doesn’t feel too tight, that’s the right mask for you.

Remember to pre-treat your mask before wearing it to prevent fogging.


Another critical piece of snorkeling gear is a snorkel. Your choice of a snorkel determines how long you will stay in the water.

The best snorkel is the one that features a silicone mouthpiece. Getting a comfortable snorkel will keep you in water for a while and reduce jaw fatigue.

Also, ensure your choice of a snorkel features a splash guard to stop any water droplets from entering the tube. It should have a purge valve to clear any water that accidentally gets in.

If you’re a beginner, I recommend using a dry snorkel so you don’t swallow water. The breathing tube of a dry snorkel can’t be filled with water when submerged!

Snorkel vest

Snorkel vests act like floatation devices by keeping you upright and allowing you to swim when submerged.

Your snorkeling adventure will be much safer, more comfortable, and more relaxed if you wear a snorkel vest.

This attire is more critical for new snorkelers since it makes it easier for them to maintain a stable body position in the water.

However, you should still wear the vest if you are an experienced snorkeler. Sometimes emergencies such as a jellyfish sting, medical issues, or a strong current can occur, and a vest will keep you safe in such a situation.

Besides comfort and safety, a snorkel vest also improves the visibility of a snorkeler, as it’s brightly colored.


Fins are worn on the feet to help you swim longer without tiring. Most experienced snorkelers don’t use fins, but I recommend them for beginners.

Pick fins with a perfect fit that won’t pinch you anywhere so your feet remain comfortable.

Snorkeling fins feature a small blade, unlike those used for freediving and scuba diving. This makes them difficult to pack. Why not rent them once you get to your snorkeling destination?

Alternatively, book your snorkeling tour with a company that offers fins.

Socks or snorkeling booties

When snorkeling, your feet are exposed to rocks and hot sand. You must wear snorkeling booties or neoprene socks under the fins to spare your feet.

Additionally, you have the added advantage of your feet remaining warm in cold water when you wear socks and booties. Your feet will also be protected from sharp elements like shells and sea urchins that you may be exposed to while in the water.

Snorkeling booties or water shoes are great alternatives if you don’t like wearing fins.


Wearing a wetsuit largely depends on the water temperature of your snorkeling spot. You may not need a wetsuit if the water temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. If the water is colder, pick a thicker wetsuit.

The other factor that may determine whether you need a wetsuit is how long you will be in the water. You may not need one if your snorkeling sessions are shorter.

Sun protection

When snorkeling, you have a higher chance of getting sunburned because the water reflects the sun’s rays. The reflection hits hard under your arms, eyes, and chin.

Sun protection is most critical if your snorkeling destination is in a tropical area.

While most areas of your body may be covered by the attire you wear, some parts are left uncovered. Unfortunately, the use of sunscreens is discouraged because most contain chemicals that could harm marine life.

Here are some ways you can stay protected from the sun without jeopardizing the safety of marine life.

1. Wear reef-safe sunscreen on the exposed parts of your body. Pay attention to your back since it will be more exposed as you float with your face down. When buying a reef-safe sunscreen, ensure it doesn’t contain ingredients like octinoxate, oxybenzone, or chemicals harmful to marine creatures or coral reefs.

2. Ensure you wear snorkeling clothing that has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating of at least 30.

Do I have to wear a life jacket when snorkeling?

Yes, you need to wear a life jacket when snorkeling because the activity can be dangerous. There is a possibility of drowning wherever you get into slightly deeper water.

The risk is even higher for snorkelers in an open sea. Consider wearing a life jacket especially if you are not a strong or frequent swimmer.

Are there colors I should wear when snorkeling?

Although shark attacks are not common when snorkeling, they can happen in some areas.

Sharks are mostly attracted to contrasting patterns and colors, so you should avoid them.

Is there a dress code for snorkeling?

Snorkeling is a popular activity, especially in tropical countries, which may have different cultures and rules. It is therefore advisable to inquire from your local guide about any snorkeling dress code in your destination.

What are the dos and don’ts for first-time snorkelers?

Don’t feed the fish

Feeding fish while snorkeling can distract you and interfere with your experience or safety. Besides, the fish don’t need to be fed, so remain focused.

Respect other snorkelers’ space

Snorkeling comes with lots of excitement, especially when you meet other people underwater. Nevertheless, avoid intruding on their privacy. Not everyone appreciates that.

Don’t touch the coral

Don’t stand on the coral or kick them. They are living organisms.

Also, avoid standing on rocks. What you may perceive to be a rock may be an underwater organism.

Don’t interfere with the sea creatures

This could be hazardous. Some creatures are poisonous, so if you trigger them, they may become aggressive and react in self-defense.

Important snorkeling safety tips

Check the weather conditions

You must check the water condition before getting into the water. The best time to snorkel is when the sea is calm and smooth. Remember that the weather may change, so be on the lookout.

Know your equipment

If you are not experienced in snorkeling equipment, I recommend you start practicing in a swimming pool. This will boost your confidence, and you will be able to use the equipment well the next time you go to the sea.


No matter where you go snorkeling, being well-prepared will significantly impact your experience. Wear quality snorkeling gear, comfortable clothing, and enough sun protection. This way, you will be safe and have a great and memorable time.