Snorkeling with kids is one of the best summer activities you can do, but it takes a few important tips and tricks to get it right. Exploring the underwater world is an adventure that most kids dream of, and it’s an activity that adults can enjoy too. Let’s talk about how to take kids on a snorkeling excursion!
What Is Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is a popular water sport where you float on the water's surface while observing the marine life below. Snorkelers use a mask for visibility, a snorkel for breathing, and sometimes flippers for speed, control, and direction.
Snorkelers normally stay at the ocean's surface, whether swimming or floating, though sometimes you might see snorkelers in a lagoon or an artificial water feature. Most people start out by just floating on the top of the water’s surface, at least in the beginning.
You can take a quick plunge down, but you'll have to hold your breath carefully. This isn't required for snorkeling. People occasionally do it to get a better look at something interesting beneath them.
The Benefits of Snorkeling
There are so many benefits of snorkeling, but we have curated a few specific to snorkeling with children.
Improves Breathing and Control
Being able to self-regulate is a key skill for children. Slow, deep breathing is essential in this regard. Breathing through a tube requires more exertion than regular breathing and also creates more resistance. This can be an excellent way for kids to learn patience and practice a new skill.
It’s Great Exercise
This activity is not just about looking at coral and fish (although that part is really fantastic!). Your muscles will get a great workout as you swim around. The best part is that you will be enjoying yourself while looking underwater, so you probably won’t even notice all the calories you’re burning.
For the kiddos in your life, exercise is essential too! Come bedtime, we are all just hoping those younger kiddos will go right to sleep. Nothing tires a kid out like a good day of swimming. For the older kids, building healthy exercise habits is key to a long, happy, and healthy life.
Improves Mood and Mental Health
It’s no secret that mental health, especially in teenagers, is declining. Blame the pandemic, blame social media, but whatever the cause — kids are struggling.
They need an outlet, and snorkeling is perfect. It is a chance to be calm, shut out the outside world, and appreciate nature. In addition, the controlled breathing practiced in snorkeling is quite similar to breathwork done in meditation. It’s no surprise that snorkeling helps our mental state!
It’s Another Way To Get Outside
Kids are spending more time attached to screens than ever, not only to play games and watch TV but also to do schoolwork that used to be on paper. The modern child could potentially be looking at a screen for more than half of their waking hours.
Let’s get these kids outside by whatever means necessary! Snorkeling is just one more way to do it. Allowing children to connect with nature will also benefit our entire society. Children are the future, and our planet needs their conservation efforts.
It’s Fun: Plain and Simple!
Snorkeling is just fun! The biggest benefit of snorkeling is that it is an enjoyable activity for both adults and children, and those kinds of activities can be few and far between.
Connecting with the children in your life is important. Having something like snorkeling that they can really enjoy will bring you closer together. Besides, who doesn’t love looking at really cool sea creatures?
What Gear Will You Need for You and Your Kids or Grandkids?
Obviously, you will need some swimwear, but what else is required for snorkeling? Here are the bare minimum requirements, plus a few extras.
A Face Mask
No, not the kind that you use to improve your skin tone. This type of mask is to keep water out of your eyes. When you snorkel, you face the bottom of the ocean while staying afloat. A mask covers your eyes, nose, and sometimes, your entire face. This mask allows you to view down into the depths of the ocean.
The Snorkel Itself
A snorkel is required for breathing while partially under the water. Most of us have seen or even used them as kids. They can be connected to the mask or purchased already connected to the mask.
The breathing tube of the snorkel allows you to inhale and exhale. The majority of snorkels these days have a semi-dry top, which means they keep water out if you do decide to take a quick dive.
You can purchase more equipment if you choose to take it beyond the basic swimsuit. Flippers, otherwise known as fins, are a popular example. They attach to your feet in the same way as shoes do. The "paddle fin" is the most common example. Slowly moving your feet helps you go forward, make quicker rotations, and even dive for shorter distances.
Additional Snorkeling Equipment
- Life Jackets: The list of optional equipment is extensive, but many people wear life jackets when snorkeling. It makes it easier to float, which saves you energy. They also improve your safety and security. If you are snorkeling with children, wearing life jackets is a good idea!
Of course, wearing a life jacket means that you can’t dive down, but with small children, it’s probably best for them to stay at the surface until they gain more snorkeling experience.
- UV Protection Clothing: Is it necessary to wear a wetsuit when snorkeling? In reality, no. However, there is a very good reason why people often do.
Think about how much sun exposure your back, neck, calves, and thighs will be getting while you have a bird’s eye view of the ocean floor. You’re constantly exposed, leading us to our next point.
- Sunscreen: You should wear sunscreen regardless, but especially if you don’t have a wetsuit. Additionally, ensure you are really getting your back fully covered.
- A Dry Bag: Another one to add to the not 100% necessary category is the dry bag. These will keep your belongings dry if you need to hang onto them while you’re snorkeling. An added benefit is that when you get out of the water you have a place to put your wetsuit or swimsuit.
How To Teach Kids To Snorkel
We’ve got a few foolproof tips for getting kids to love snorkeling as much as you do.
Practice in the Bathtub or Pool
Let’s face it: It takes some time to get used to the breathing techniques used in snorkeling. We definitely do not want to get out onto the open ocean and have a kid try to breathe into a snorkel tube for the first time.
You also want to make sure that the mask has a good fit and solid suction to the face. A leaky mask is scary, especially to a kid. Practicing in the local pool is the perfect way to ensure you’ve got equipment that fits properly and an experienced child who knows what they’re doing before you head out into the ocean.
Make Sure the Kids Are Water-Confident
This might seem a little bit obvious, but if so, it bears repeating. Are your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews comfortable in the water? For snorkeling, it’s generally best to wait until they're comfortable putting their head under water.
It's also crucial to consider safety and swimming ability. The presence of flippers may make snorkeling seem like it’s super safe, but being a strong swimmer is definitely a requirement for snorkeling. It's crucial not to overlook the dangers of water, whether at the beach or in your backyard.
Teach Them How To Clear Their Mask and Snorkel
Believe it or not, this is not intuitive. Clearing out a snorkel with water in it is pretty simple. If you were underwater, just return to the surface and forcefully blow the water out. Again, this should be practiced with kids beforehand.
Water getting into a snorkel mask can be very scary. Teach children to stay calm if this happens. There are three steps to clear a snorkel mask. Keep it simple!
- Relax. Stay focused on what you need to do.
- Tilt the head back a bit, looking upward, as you seal the top seal of the mask and exhale through your nose.
- Blow forcefully out of your nose until the water clears.
This method works both above and below water. As a caretaker in charge of children, you should also be prepared to help walk them through this if they struggle.
Snorkeling has many benefits, but the most obvious one is the fun you will have with your friends and family. Make sure you’ve got water-confident kids, the right equipment, and a little patience, and you will be well on your way to snorkeling heaven!