If you want to try snorkeling, you might think you have to go somewhere far away to slip on a snorkeling mask and dive in. That’s not the case, though. You can go snorkeling without even leaving the continental United States. In fact, Florida has plenty of prime snorkeling locations. The biggest thing you need is the desire to try out snorkeling. You also need the ability to swim. You don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer, but you can’t flail about and panic either. Read on to find out how to try snorkeling on your next trip to the Sunshine State.
Pick a snorkeling spot
The first thing you need is a spot to go snorkeling. Florida is a big state, after all, so you can’t just plan to cross the state line and then go wherever the wind takes you. A few things make Florida ideal for snorkeling. One, obviously, is the proximity to water, as the state is just a peninsula hanging out in the middle of the ocean. The other great factor is the warm weather. Florida has the warmest weather in the entire United States, and we don’t just mean the continental United States. On average, Florida is warmer than even Hawaii. If you’re curious, Louisiana is third, Texas is fourth, and Georgia is fifth.
You can visit Florida just about any time of year and experience pleasant weather. If you’re looking for snorkeling spots, start with the West Palm Beach area. More specifically, you need to check out Peanut Island. It’s an all-around great spot for water sports, and the Peanut Island snorkeling in particular is top-notch. The water is calm and ridiculously blue. There’s also a wealth of underwater habitats worth seeing. In fact, there’s so much to see that you may be tempted to book a repeat visit as soon as the first one concludes.
If you go, make sure you’re going around high tide, as that offers the best snorkeling conditions. If you haven’t memorized high tide and low tide in South Florida, that’s OK: You can look upa tide charts online. If that seems like too much work, you can also just call and ask about making a rental appointment for high tide.
Snorkeling can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t do it right. You may feel silly wearing a life jacket to go snorkeling, but such jackets can be necessary in certain conditions. If you feel nervous about snorkeling, a vest or jacket can help calm you down a little bit.
However, an experienced snorkeling instructor can help a lot. Renting equipment and going snorkeling off Peanut Island comes with its own set of challenges, but it’s not exactly deep-sea diving. One of the best things you can do is make sure your equipment is working properly. Your snorkeling instructor will help you figure out how to check that. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of full-face snorkeling masks. Law enforcement officials in Hawaii believe such masks may to blame for some recent snorkeling deaths there. One fire battalion chief told a San Francisco newspaper “that there may be an unforeseen buildup of carbon dioxide within the breathing chamber” of full-face snorkel masks.
While those reports sound scary, snorkeling is quite safe as long as you take some basic precautions. One of the best things you can do is bring a buddy with you. Even the most experienced snorkeler can drown quickly if they experience a crisis while on a solo trip. If you’re a beginner, there’s absolutely no reason to go snorkeling on your own. Besides, it’s often more fun with someone else snorkeling alongside you.