Is snorkelling dangerous? 6 life saving top tips for non swimmers from expert freedivers | Snorkeling confidence

Is snorkeling dangerous? 6 life saving top tips for non swimmers from expert freedivers | Snorkeling confidence

Firstly, let’s clear up the misconception that snorkelers are freedivers.  Yes, both enjoy the under water world with no scuba tanks, but freediving as a sport has out grown the general term “snorkelling”.The most important difference between snorkelling and freediving is that certified freedivers know how to swim, and how to perform an underwater rescue on their buddy.  

Now anybody can grab a mask and go snorkeling, even non-swimmers, this is the allure of an easy low cost way to experience the beauty of the ocean, many tourist do and there is nothing wrong with that.

So, is snorkeling dangerous? Ask yourself these questions before grabbing your mask and fins.

  1. Do I have basic swimming skills?
  2. Can I tread water when my feet can’t touch the bottom?  You should be able to tread water, take off your mask and put it back on again, without panicking.
  3. Do I know how to purge the water from my snorkel?

If you answered NO to the questions above then yes, snorkelling could be dangerous.  

But don’t worry, if you follow these guidelines below you can enjoy snorkeling and build up your confidence in the ocean.

  1. Learn to swim - Learning basic swimming could save your life FACT.
  2. Wear a life jacket and snorkel with a guide or friend who can swim well.
  3. Learn how to float on your back, when you are tired or feel panicked, flip on your back and float, breathe slowly, your lungs are like floats you will not sink.
  4. Practice purging water from your snorkel and learn how to use your tongue as a splash guard and slowly pull air through the tube even with water inside.
  5. Use good equipment, avoid full face masks and snorkels that close at the top (these can cause panic) your mask should fit well and not leak.

Check more info about different types of snorkels here.

  1. Only snorkel in shallow water where you can touch the bottom, but DO NOT stand on the coral when you are tired, wear short fins not reef shoes.

The next step..

When you have mastered the above and feel comfortable snorkeling on the surface, then you are ready to explore under the water on one breath, this is when we would recommend taking a beginners freediving course, during your freediving course you will learn how to equalise the pressure in your ears and how to freedive safely.

You could also book coaching with a freedive or swimming instructor, we have taught plenty of snorkelling skills to students that are simply looking for more ocean confidence but are not ready for a freediving course.


Unfortunately accidents can happen and popular tourist snorkelling spots attract droves of  holiday makers of all levels and experience snorkelling.  Dive schools near these popular sites are often the first on the scene to assist with snorkelers in trouble, we witness fatalities that could of been avoided with basic swimming skills and/or more safety knowledge.

Is snorkeling dangerous? That is a question only you can answer. Take responsibility in knowing your limits and give the ocean respect, remember that safety should always be your top priority. By following the expert life saving tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can enjoy a safe and memorable snorkeling experience while minimising the risk of accidents or injuries. 

So enjoy your holiday and immerse yourself in the wonders of the ocean with confidence and caution. Happy snorkeling! 

Join us on a freediving liveaboard to Raja Ampat & Komodo, we can teach you to freedive or snorkel with confidence! for bookings.

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