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Snorkeling tips for beginners — be safe, but go for it!

Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Kyla Anderson, Stony Brook

Have you ever taken a tropical vacation? Did you ever say no to a great opportunity, like snorkeling, because you were scared? Maybe wondering if there will be a shark behind you or dangerous fish that will drag you under and attack you or something like that?

That was me when I first arrived in the Dominican Republic. I was with my friend, and she was super-excited about going snorkeling. I thought it would be dangerous, but I went anyway. I definitely was not going to stick my head under the water, but at the same time, I wanted to. I was too scared of snorkeling to wear a breathing tube.

However, when I did stick my head under, everything changed. There were hundreds of small, adorable fish swimming among their little coral houses. I didn’t see one fish that looked like it would hurt me. I stared, completely oblivious to the fact I needed to breathe. Five seconds later, I burst through the surface, gasping for air.

That brings me to my tips for enjoying snorkeling:

  • Make sure you have the right equipment. When I learned I actually liked it, I didn’t get the best experience because I didn’t put on the right gear.
  • Don’t be scared, rather: be cautious. You might miss out on the best experience of your life if you bow out of a “scary” or “dangerous” activity. It might be really fun.
  • At all costs, don’t go underwater before an instructor teaches you how. No, the breathing tube does not extend. If you have to (or you really want to) breathe out instead of in, just take out the breathing tube.
  • Don’t touch anything. You don’t know if there’s some poisonous coral around. If you get a cut on some poisonous coral (if you’re not wearing flippers, which you probably should be), it could be very dangerous.
  • Stay close to the group of people you’re going snorkeling with.
  • If you do see something dangerous, alert everyone. You don’t want anyone to get hurt.

Valentina Gatti and Bonnie Hersch’s sixth-grade class, Wantagh Middle School

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