Is Snorkeling Safe? – Why and When Can be Dangerous?

You may ask: is snorkeling dangerous? The answer is: snorkeling is a fairly safe and healthy water sport – certainly safer than scuba diving – and poses a minimal threat if you take the appropriate measures to train for the adventure.

Snorkeling is an undersea activity that involves a respiration tube. A snorkel mask is a prevalent add-on so that you can see underwater. It’s built to allow you to wander underwater canyons and vibrant green plant-life without worrying about breathing.

It’s very safe to snorkel. You are at the top, and there are no pressure changes relevant to depth, and your limitless emergency air supply is inches away. You will prevent sea urchins if you avoid swimming over the shallowest reefs and bottoms of the seas. Looking around often, keeping situational awareness is always a good policy.

Dangers of Snorkeling

So when can be snorkeling dangerous? Snorkeling is a fairly safe sport, so you can mitigate the possible risks by taking a few precautions while being alert of your surroundings. With this said, it would be foolish not to prepare yourself or plan for any future problems that may arise. The following are general situations and things which may pose potential hazards to individuals when snorkeling:

How Safe is Snorkeling


The area of snorkeling should be marked with buoys. Several places of snorkeling may not be marked off. You will use a dive flag and extreme caution if that is the case. If boats can enter the open water, they put forward a threat as they can hit divers and cause injury.

The Sun

The sun and its UV rays are continuously beating down on you when snorkeling in shallow waters and can cause sunburn. Unless precaution for sun protection is taken, serious burns may occur. The satisfaction of your holidays will be cut short, along with other physical ramifications.

Dangerous Marine Life

The sea life with its sea turtles and other exciting marine animals is one of the most fascinating experiences while snorkeling, usually meaning no harm to snorkelers. There are sea creatures that pose some threats, though not serious. Coral is pretty and prevalent in the ocean but dangerous as well. It is sharp and may cause skin cuts and abrasions. It also takes a long time to regrow when coral is damaged, and snorkelers should be careful to avoid injuring this animal. Fire coral may cause your skin to have a burning sensation.

Another animal that could cause injury is sea urchins. When you brush into them, they have spikes that can break off and get stuck in your skin. Such bits can be painful if stuck in your skin and can become infected.

Equipment Problems

Snorkel equipment problems present the greatest hazards and the greatest potential for things going wrong. A leak in your mask is the most obvious example of a problem that arises making your snorkeling dangerous. If salt water enters the mask, the snorkeler’s vision can become compromised, which may lead to the person panicking.

When you try to clear water from the snorkel tube, there may be another struggle. When the water reaches the breathing tube, it is possible not to clear all the water, causing the person to start coughing on the water, creating the potential to panic again.

Snorkeling equipment

Human Reaction

The cause of most snorkeling-related accidents is not necessarily the equipment that causes the problem but rather how the snorkeler reacts and responds. Panicking increases the risk of drowning or death while in the water.

An individual who is panicking is likely to make poor choices, such as trying to pull off their mask, leading to water inhalation. The frightened person also begins to lose awareness of their surroundings, revealing themselves to potential injury on nearby structures such as a boat, coral reefs, or other snorkelers.

Other Risks

There are a few other risks in the ocean too. Many people who participate in water sports or events are the greatest threat to the ocean. A significant proportion of snorkeling accidents recorded annually are attributed to collisions with jet skis and small vessels.

Many ocean threats include jellyfish, sharks, and strong waves or rip tides. Even if heavy waves swim away from the shore, they can drag snorkelers further away from their dive site. This may increase the risk of getting separated from your group, along with an increased risk of drowning.

Tips to Reduce Snorkeling Risks

If it is your first time snorkeling, it is wise to do so in shallow water near the beach, rather than venturing out on a boat. Snorkeling by boat will give you access to more diverse and exciting areas once you have gained the skills and experience you need.

Such possible risks are not planned and should not scare anyone away from this operation in the water. Snorkeling is a stunning and relatively safe sport that allows you to observe and interact in a unique and special way with marine life. The following are a few simple precautions which can be taken when snorkeling to mitigate any possible dangers:

  • When you snorkel in unfamiliar waters, you can only snorkel with a trusted tour company or experienced people and scuba divers familiar with the region.
  • Test all your snorkel gear before snorkeling
  • Understand how to use your devices
  • Study snorkeling and exercise skills before going out
  • Check waters and weather forecast
  • Wear water-resistant sunscreen
  • Beware of your energy level and stay hydrated
  • Keep an eye on the surroundings
  • Stay calm while snorkeling and avoid panic

Checking your Snorkeling Gear

You can test your snorkeling equipment and know how to use it. Normally, you’ll have a hat, snorkel, and fins. To avoid leakage, the mask requires a good fit. If the mask is too tight, you are likely to experience distress, and there is the potential for issues to arise, such as hair trapped inside, making a leak more likely to weaken the mask seal. Have the mask wet and then change it before putting it on. Test it, too, by sticking your face in the water to test the seal.

You have multiple choices when choosing a snorkel. Most snorkels have either a splash guard or a lock. The splash guard prevents water from sprinkling into the drain, allowing water to flood the snorkel. Snorkels that contain valves are called dry snorkel and typically cost a little more. They include a valve at the top of the tube to prevent water from getting inside and a valve near the bottom of the tube to purge water.

Find a Snorkeling Buddy

Finding a buddy and arranging safe snorkeling trips together is no problem if your family or your partner is also keen on the underwater world. But if you’re single, consider joining a party or meeting a friend in your hotel/on the beach.

Everyone could face unexpected emergency situations, so it’s better if you could support each other. And of course, when it’s shared, the fun is bigger!

However, if you go out alone, stay within sight close to shore. Also, when going snorkeling, it’s better to take your phone in a waterproof phone bag with you so you can call help in case of an emergency.

Stay Close to the Shore

You can enjoy safe snorkeling hours in the water if there is an “assigned snorkeling area” inside. Staying in the buoy line means the area is not only safe for swimming but also free of boats. If there is no sign of snorkeling, ask the locals about the conditions, currents, and things to see.

Before you go snorkeling, confirm the entry points and possible exit points, and make a plan where you can come out of the water safely if you’re exhausted or unwell or have no energy to swim back to the starting point.

Check the Marine Forecast

Conditions on the sea will change in just seconds; wind, waves, and ocean currents can become extremely intense really quickly. If the morning weather is pleasant, it could be stormy in the afternoon, particularly in the tropics. Always check the forecast weather before heading to the beach! Take beach warning flags seriously and follow the directions from the lifeguards. Learn how to know ride currents and how to escape when trapped. Water temperature also matters, so make sure to wear a wet suit in colder ocean conditions as the cold water takes your body heat with it.

Stay away from Coral Life

Last but not least, the most important point about snorkeling safety: respect the underwater environment! Don’t hit corals or chase predators at sea, not just because it’s not cool to touch them but also because certain animals are poisonous.

Skin contact with toxic organisms can cause serious allergic reactions, and you can end up in the hospital in the worst of situations. Also, if you have to stand, look for a sandy place or a big stone, never stand on corals!


Snorkeling is a fairly healthy water sport and poses a minimal threat if you take the appropriate measures to train for the adventure and keep your surroundings alert. Panic and boats are principal threats.

When you know how to correctly use the right equipment, practice the practical skills, and grasp the fundamentals of snorkeling. When you head out on your snorkeling trip, bear in mind the tips that we’ve shared, and you’ll be good to go. Enjoy snorkeling!

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