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Must Knows for a Succesful Snorkel Adventure

10 Tips for Novice Snorkelers

Snorkeling is the gateway drug of Maui water sports. Lacking both the considerable physical exertion and occasional white-knuckled terror of surfing; not requiring the bulky equipment of SUP or windsurfing or kayaking, snorkeling makes it easy for anyone to be at one with the ocean.

Well, no, you think. Snorkeling doesn’t look too hard. Just grab a mask, put on the fins and off you go. And that’s sort of true. But there are a few serious safety things to keep in mind. Plus a couple of hacks to make it look like you know what you’re doing. And I’d like to share a couple of ways to minimize your impact on the beautiful environment around you.

With that, here are the ten top tips for novice snorkelers:

1.For goodness’ sake DO NOT put on your mask, snorkel, and fins sitting on your towel up on the beach. First off, fins are easier to put on when they are wet. Second, whether you employ the penguin march or (my personal favorite) the backwards shuffle to get yourself to the water with fins on your feet, you will look like a dork. There will be covert snickers. Walk to the water, get yourself set up there, and away you go. You’ll immediately get credit as someone who knows what you’re doing.

2. Look at your sunscreen. Does it say “reef-friendly” or “reef-safe”? If it doesn’t, toss it. Ordinary sunscreen contains compounds that KILL CORAL REEFS. Swimmers wearing sunscreen have been blamed for declining reefs worldwide. BP-2, a chemical found in most sunscreens can, even in small concentrations, kill juvenile corals and cause colorful corals to bleach. Just switch out your sunscreen. It’s a simple, low-cost adjustment to make on your part, and it can help preserve Maui’s reefs for generations to come.

3. However, do make sure you use sunscreen. Or wear a rash guard. Spending hours floating on your stomach with an unprotected back is a recipe for a highly uncomfortable evening, or three. If you plan on doing a lot of snorkeling, invest in that rash guard. Unlike sunscreen, it can’t wear off.

4. Be aware of where you are. Well, obviously, you say. Not really. The underwater world is fascinating and it is easy to get lost following Nemo on his daily zip around his anemone. Unfortunately you are not the only person in the ocean. Kayakers, SUPers and surfers might well be sharing the water with you. If there are SUPers or surfers, likely there are at least moderate waves. Keep an eye out for sets. Also, snorkelers are harder to see than you think. They keep a low profile, they don’t move much. DON’T assume everyone else can see you.

5. On a similar note, check the weather. If it has rained in the last few days, the inshore water will most likely be muddy and opaque. If there is high surf predicted you will get tossed around, not see anything, and aggravate a bunch of surfers. If it is grey and cloudy, there will be less light penetrating the water and you won’t have such a good view. A quick weather check can ensure you pick the right day for your epic ocean adventure.

6. Spit in your mask. An old trick, but seriously, it will keep you fog-free. Alternatively another option is baby shampoo, the kind safe for a babies’ eyes.

7. Sharks are most active at dawn and dusk, and will come nearest the shore when the water is muddy. Of course, you are far more likely to get bit by your eight-year-old than you are by a shark. Nonetheless, there is no reason to play shark bait. Sharks are attracted by blood so if you have any cuts that are actively bleeding do not go in the water! Same applies if you are a woman and it’s your time of the month. For your sake, and for that of your fellow snorkelers, stay on the beach.

8. Get a guide, book a charter. True, there are some amazing snorkel spots that can be accessed from the shore. But some are best seen by boat, and sometimes you need someone in the know to show you where to go and what to look for. Molokini is one of the top snorkel spots in Hawaii, and you need a guide with a boat to get out there. Take a snorkel tour. You won’t regret it.

9. Be an observer, not and disruptor. The waters around Maui are teeming with wildlife. If you are lucky you might hear whale song underwater, see green sea turtles grazing by the shore, and watch dolphin pods at rest swimming in lazy circles. All of these animals are generally peaceable. But it is important (as well as required by law) to respect their space. The turtle is trying to eat. Dolphins sleep during the day. There is some research indicating that swimmers who come too close to wild dolphins disrupt their sleep patterns, leaving them vulnerable to predation. It’s their ocean and you are a guest. Leave the animals alone!

10. Don’t feed the fish! It’s tempting to bring food along to lure the fish closer but you should know that it’s bad for them and outright dangerous for you. First, the food you bring will disturb the natural eating habits of the fish and throw the reef system out of balance. Second, the fish can get aggressive when pursuing your food and many well-meaning snorkelers have gotten bitten or injured. Besides, surrounding yourself with fish that might be the natural prey of sharks doesn’t sound like a very good idea anyway.

Enjoy your time in paradise! Revel in every minute. The water here is magic, the animals are beautiful, and you are in for the time of your life.

Curious about Maui’s best snorkel spots? Click here.

Contact a Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Specialist

Please interview me to be your trusted Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Advisor. I was born and raised on the island, and spend a considerable amount of time to inform my clients about the best deals currently on the market. Please do not hesitate to call me for your Maui real estate needs. I am more than happy to assist you in your home search.


Anthony Sayles R(S)

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