4 Ocean Conditions to Watch Out for Before You Go Snorkeling

Pat Green   Sep 21, 2021

Fun-filled vacation snorkeling and diving sports earn the nation an estimated $11 billion annually. Without proper snorkeling tips and diving safety instruction, such economic gains can become negated by losses of life and property. As such, it’s ideal for all snorkelers to get equipped with snorkeling tips that will enhance their safety. Learning when it’s safe to hit the waters can determine the difference between an enjoyable snorkeling day, and a day of terror at the beach. Here, we’ll highlight a few ocean conditions you need to assess before hitting the water.

Wave Patterns

Perfect snorkeling is possible when visibility is high, and the waters aren’t choppy. Choppy waters are not ideal for snorkeling, especially; if you’re not a proficient swimmer. Wavy waters will bounce you around, and you’ll experience diminished underwater visibility because of increased moving debris and sand. Waves also influence the ease and safety of getting in and out of the waters. Incoming waves always have a pattern, and taking note of it can help you exit the waters safely. For instance, if a set of waves has three big waves and two small ones, take note of the pattern and plan your exit during the small waves.

Ocean Currents

Currents are an essential consideration for snorkelers’ safety. Currents are a powerful force, which can move against ocean waves. When snorkeling, there is a possibility that you could get caught up in a current. Small currents can be harmless, but strong ones are a danger to non-pro swimmers. Even if you’re an expert swimmer, swimming in strong currents can be a challenge. It’s advisable to assess the state of the ocean currents from a good vantage point. You should check whether the water is flowing in a specific direction. Noting the flow will give you a rough idea on how the currents are moving. If you’re not a keen observer, always seek information from locals or your instructor.

Ocean Winds

Even when in ocean waters, the ocean surface winds have a strong influence on your snorkeling safety. Strong winds can carry you from one point to another in the ocean because they influence the movement and strength of the waves. If you’re snorkeling and strong winds are moving in the opposite direction to the tide, then it’s prudent to exit the waters because the winds can increase wave size. The bigger the waves, the harder it becomes to navigate through them.

Ocean Surges

Surges are subtly similar to waves, but they’re stronger. Surges involve sudden upward or downward movement of the waters. Surges can pull you up or push you down in the waters. You face the greatest danger when snorkeling in shallow reef waters. Surges can drop you against sharp objects and coral reefs, and you can get hurt. If snorkeling under a cliff overhang, ensure that there is sufficient space between you and the overhang to prevent being thrown up against it. One of the best snorkeling tips is to keep a safe distance between you and the coral reef that you’re exploring to avoid the impact of surges throwing you against the reef.

The best of all snorkeling tips recommend facing the ocean whenever you snorkel. By facing the ocean, you’ll always know how the winds, currents, and waves are building up for the better or worse.