Do you need to know how to swim to snorkel?


Snorkeling is easily one of the best activities because it allows you to explore the underwater world, which is vibrant and full of life. It’s something you’ll never forget and once you try it, you will always go back to it. 

But what if you don’t know how to swim? Can you still snorkel? Well, the short answer is yes. You don’t need to know how to swim to snorkel. However, it’s recommended because it will make the experience a lot better. 

Today, we will explore this question a little further and we will provide a few tips to help you get the most out of your first snorkel!

Do You Need to Know How to Swim to Snorkel?

No, you don’t need to know how to swim to snorkel.

Technically speaking, it’s not a must. The equipment used for snorkeling helps people who can’t swim and allows them to enjoy the experience. The snorkeling gear includes wetsuits, fins, and life jackets, so you can float on the surface while you explore the underwater world. 

However, it’s important to note that snorkel professionals recommend you know the basics of swimming. Why? Because it makes the experience much more fun and enjoyable.

Taking a swimming lesson will do wonders for your snorkel experience, so you should definitely consider it. But if you don’t have the time then we’re happy to confirm that you can still snorkel without this skill. 

The Risks of Snorkeling for Non-Swimmers:

If you’re going to snorkel without knowing how to swim, it’s important to be aware of the risks so you can avoid them or be prepared. This is particularly important if you’re not super comfortable in water because you lack experience. 

1- Fear:

It’s not uncommon for people to experience fear when snorkeling, especially if they don’t know how to swim. Additionally, there are a few things that can happen in the water that may trigger a panic response.

In that case, let your snorkeling buddy know and try to focus on one thing at a time to keep yourself calm. If you need a moment out of the water, don’t hesitate to take it. 

2- Surface Waves:

When the ocean is nice and calm, snorkeling will feel like a breeze for non-swimmers. However, things can change from one moment to the next. If the wind picks up, there will be surface waves that will push you around.

As long as you’re feeling comfortable, it shouldn’t be a problem. But if conditions get worse and worse, get out of the water as soon as you can. 

3- Currents:

It’s very important to be aware of currents because they will move you in a certain direction and pull you away. For non-swimmers, it’s difficult to swim against it.

If you find yourself in a current, get upright, wave your arms and yell for help so someone can come for you. This is all very dramatized and takes a pessimistic perspective or considers the worst scenario-case. However, none of this will be a concern unless you choose to go snorkel in the middle of a storm.

So if the sky is clear and blue, the sun high and shining, and the weather pleasantly hot and summery, you’re good to go.

4- Failing Equipment:

Sometimes equipment fails or it doesn’t work like you expected, which can become a problem. If you notice anything wrong, let someone know right away.

One of the most common issues is water getting into the mask, so make sure you learn how to clear your snorkel before going in. And, make sure you use the suction around your mask to make it stick onto your face and hold still, while you enjoy your snorkeling session.

Tips for a Good Snorkeling Session:

  • Get the hang of floating. If you’re not a swimmer and you’re not super comfortable in the water, get the hang of floating before your snorkel session. Lay on your back or facing down, but practice keeping your face out of the water. 
  • Always do this with a partner. Don’t snorkel alone, if you’re not a swimmer. Remember, the weather conditions can change unexpectedly at any minute and you can experience a little panic, so you need someone by your side to assist you. 
  • Get a guide. If you’re a non-swimmer and a snorkeling beginner, choose to do this with a guide. They will show you the tricks and take you to beginner-friendly spots. 
  • Do your research. Your destination needs to be beginner-friendly, so make sure to do your research ahead of time. Ideally, you should find snorkeling services that arrange this for you, but it doesn’t hurt to get a general idea. Make sure your destination has shallow, calm waters. Also, double-check that it’s close to shore, and has easy entry to the water. 
  • Make sure there are lifeguards around or with you. Though you will be wearing equipment that allows you to float, you need to make sure there are lifeguards at your snorkeling destination, for peace of mind, if you’re worried. That means you should avoid remote areas unless you’re going on a snorkeling trip with professionals that provide lifeguard services. 


Snorkeling is the experience of a lifetime and everyone should try it at least once.

Even if you’re not a good swimmer and you still want to do it, you will have an amazing time and you will see that it was worth trying, we promise! All you need to do is take precautions, prepare, and follow the steps listed above for your safety and for your peace of mind too!

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