Snorkelling Guide for Non Swimmers : Everything You Need To Know!

Snorkelling Guide for Non Swimmers

Can you snorkel even if you don’t know how to swim? Well, basically yes, you can still enjoy snorkeling even if you’re a non-swimmer. There’s no special skill needed to experience this water activity as long as you have the right snorkeling equipment.

It’s a great pastime that almost anyone can enjoy. The good thing about snorkelling is that you can see the beauty of the underwater world even if you are not a strong swimmer or has zero experience in swimming. If you are not a swimmer who wants to experience this water activity, here are some snorkeling tips for non-swimmers.

Relax and Don't Panic

Yes, it can be scary to be in the water especially knowing that you cant swim. However, try to relax, the more you panic the greater chance you’ll be in trouble, especially since you’re a non-swimmer and has no snorkeling experience.

One of the reasons why people start to panic is the mere thought of being in the water with no idea how to swim. This is why it is important to get a floatation device when snorkeling whether you’re a swimmer or not. Wearing one may increase your confidence level and may lessen your fear of potentially plummeting under the ocean.

Staying calm will help you conserve energy, plus you’ll be able to breathe normally. You will also be able to think clearly and rationally to better assess a situation if you’re actually in trouble or not. Also, you’re there to have fun, when you panic you’ll not be able to enjoy your snorkeling trip.

Prepare your Snorkeling Equipment

Prepare your Snorkeling Equipment

Best to prepare your snorkeling equipment ahead of time. Make sure they are complete and fit you perfectly especially your mask. If your mask is a little loose or bigger than your face, there’s a tendency that water can get inside.

If you have facial hair or a beard, there is also a tendency that water may get in. When this happens, the first thing you’ll probably do is panic which you’ve already known by now is not helpful. Try to find the best equipment for snorkelling, especially comfortable and working flotation devices. This is for your own safety.

Here is a list of equipment that you would need for your snorkeling adventure.

Snorkeling Gear


This is the tool that will help you breathe through your mouth. If you’ve never gone snorkeling before, it would be ideal to practice your puffs first and learn how to time them. There are snorkels that come in two-piece wherein they are not the full-face type. If you have one of these be sure that the snorkel is properly attached to the strap of the mask.

You may also want to steer away from long snorkel tube as it can be harder to breathe as you snorkel. You don’t need to buy your own snorkel since you can always use those provided by tour companies. However, some people are not comfortable sharing it with others.


As mentioned earlier the mask can be part of the snorkel like the full face snorkel mask or can be separate from the snorkel. An eye mask is used to protect your eyes so you can clearly see underwater. It also protects your nose from getting seawater inside.

Some non-swimmers prefer a dry snorkel because of the float valve mechanism. It has a tight seal so, even if they are fully submerged in the water, they don’t have to clear the tube because water will not get through it.

There are different kinds of mask out there but whatever type of mask you use, be sure that it perfectly fits you. Make sure water will not come inside and that they are comfortable to wear. It is ideal to have your own snorkel mask than to rent to ensure it fits snugly on you.

Snorkel Vest

This is a must for first-time snorkelers and non-swimmers as it will help you stay on the surface of the water. This can also give you peace of mind that you won’t drown while you snorkel even if you are in the middle of the ocean.

Aside from a snorkel vest, there are other floatation devices that you can use. There are boogie board, floatation belt, standard life jacket, and pool noodles. However, for a non-swimmer, a life jacket or snorkeling vest would be the best option as a flotation device.

Wearing flotation devices will keep the water just around your neck level and your body just within the water’s surface.


You may notice that not everyone wears fins when snorkeling. They’re not a must but they are good to have especially if you don’t know how to swim and for those who want to swim further. Fins will let you propel in the water faster and easier. They can also help you save energy and add buoyancy which you need since you’re a non-swimmer.

You do not need to get yourself some diving fins as they tend to be longer. You can opt for shorter fins so it would be easier for you to move around.

Float Horizontally

Float Horizontally

Non-swimmers often try to get their body out of the water as much as they can. This is understandable because they fear that they might totally submerge in the water. However, doing this may only cause more panic, uncontrolled breathing, and will exhaust you easily. Instead, try to float horizontally.

To do this, as you lower your body, try to get in a horizontal position. You can do this easily with the help of a life jacket. Keep your chest a bit lower and your neck and chin should just be around the water level. Doing this will help you stay more buoyant than when you try to keep pulling yourself upwards.

Submerge A Bit

Submerge A Bit

One of the fears of many non-swimmers or first-time snorkeler is submerging in the water. However, the best thing about snorkeling is you don’t need to dive or submerge your whole body to view the beautiful marine life.

You only need to submerge the front part of your face which is also covered with goggles or a mask. So, there’s really no reason to be afraid. This is also why you need to learn to float horizontally, basically half of your body will be just within the surface of the sea water. Plus, you’ll be wearing a life vest so you will not submerge totally as you snorkel.

Be Aware of your Surroundings

Be Aware of your Surroundings

As you snorkel you will encounter a lot of marine life and it might be tempting to touch them. You may even attempt to catch a fish as they come near you. There is also a big chance that you’ll accidentally touch or step on corals. However, as much as possible try not to touch them. It may seem like a small and innocent act but collectively it may cause a negative effect on their natural habitat.

Apart from avoiding the sea creatures, you also need to be aware of other snorkelers, swimmers, and divers. You do not want to bump on them or accidentally kick them while you try to stay afloat or tread on the water. Snorkeling is fun and sometimes you enjoy it so much that you won’t notice that you’ve moved too far from your boat and your fellow snorkelers.



Before your scheduled snorkeling trip, best to practice with your equipment first. Try to wear your mask and snorkel to find the perfect fit. You don’t want to tighten it too much that it would be uncomfortable for you to breathe. It is also important to practice breathing through the snorkel.

You’ll be breathing through your mouth which is something that you don’t normally do, so keep on practicing until you get the hang of it. You don’t have to be in the deepest part of the sea to practice snorkeling. It doesn’t even have to be on the ocean right away. So, where else can you practice?

Where to Practice Snorkeling

Swimming Pool

If you live far from the ocean, a swimming pool make a great practice venue for snorkeling. It’s a great place to play around your equipment and at the same time polish your floating skills. Be sure to wear your life vest and fins too. This will allow you to be at ease with them even before your snorkeling trips.

Shallow Beach

If there’s a beach nearby, you can also practice in the sea. However, be sure to stay in the shallow water first. Since you are a non-swimmer, it is essential to think about your safety first. It would also be best to practice on a beach where lifeguards are nearby in case something happens. Even if it is in the shallow water, be sure to still wear your life vest. It will make staying afloat easy and more comfortable.



Many first-timers usually experience their first snorkeling adventure from a boat tour. This is fun as you have a better chance of viewing a lot of beautiful marine life in the deeper part of the ocean. However, this may also be daunting for some especially for beginner snorkelers and non-swimmers. But as long as you wear a life jacket you should be fine.

You can do this or you can start from the beach if you are not comfortable jumping from a boat. Many non-swimmers and beginners start from the beach because they find boat trips a bit intimidating. Plus, they prefer to start in the shallow waters first before they can confidently snorkel in the deep water. There’s nothing wrong with it, you should learn to snorkel at your own pace, remember it’s not a competition.

Snorkeling from a boat trip or from the beach has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s compare the two so you can decide which will be more comfortable for you.

From the Beach

Beach snorkeling has less pressure and many non-swimmers feel safer starting from the beach because they can start with shallow water. Many non-swimmers snorkel from the beach because they are afraid for their dear life. Even with life jackets, they may still feel uncomfortable jumping from a boat. Having these negative feelings can only make the snorkeling experience a dreadful one, so best to begin on spots where you feel confident and comfortable.

However, the downside of starting from the beach is that it may give you the false sense that you are still wandering in the shallow waters but in reality, you’ve already reached the deep water.

Once you realized that you are in the deeper part of the sea, your natural instinct will be to panic. But there’s no reason to panic because you’ll stay afloat with your life vest. It is also best to have a snorkeling buddy with you who is a good swimmer or at least have better swimming skills than you.


Since boat trips are usually part of the tour, competent swimmers and non-swimmers start snorkeling from a boat. Snorkeling beginners and non-swimmers may hesitate at first for fear of possibly drowning since they are already in the deep water. However, as long as there are life jackets, no need to worry too much.

The good thing about snorkeling from a boat is that you get to experience the most beautiful snorkeling spots. Tour guides are well familiar with the water and know exactly where to bring their guests.

Another advantage of starting from a boat is that there are usually instructors with you, so you can feel more secure knowing that someone can guide you. Be sure to tell the instructor or tour guide that you are not a strong swimmer or literally have zero swimming skills.

Be Aware of Rip Tides and Currents

Be Aware of Rip Tides and Currents

Non-swimmers, first-timers, and even experienced swimmers, and snorkelers must always be alert of currents and rip tides. It can happen any time of the day and very fast. Many non-swimmers and beginners may panic when this happens, but again going back to the first tip, just stay calm and don’t panic.

When you panic, you won’t be able to think clearly and as a result, you will try to swim back to the boat or to the shore. It is virtually impossible to swim against the current. So don’t waste your time and energy.

This is also the reason why we recommend wearing a flotation device. This will keep you afloat and on the water surface even if the current sweeps you further.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can non-swimmers go snorkeling?

Yes, even non-swimmers can enjoy snorkeling as long as they wear a floatation device. Swimming is not necessary skill in snorkeling.

How do you snorkel without swallowing water?

You can use your tongue as a splash guard to avoid water from entering your mouth and swallowing it.

Can you scuba if you can’t swim?

The short answer is no because you can’t get a certificate for scuba diving if you don’t know how to swim. However, you can dive in the water even if you can’t swim provided you have an instructor with you.

How do you snorkel for beginners?

There’s a lot of snorkeling tips for non-swimmers and beginners, basically, you need to have the right equipment and ideally have someone guide and teach you how to do it.


Are you ready to hop on a boat and try your first attempt in snorkeling? There is nothing wrong in trying to snorkel without knowing how to swim. However, it would still be best to at least try to learn some basic swimming skills like floating. Snorkeling for non-swimmers is possible, just be sure to practice safety precautions and never try to snorkel alone. Also, don’t ever leave and remove your floatation device and most importantly, enjoy!

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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