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Beginners Guide to Snorkeling

Snorkels & Masks

What Is Snorkeling?

Snorkeling is defined as “swimming along the surface of the water while using specific equipment that allows you to view the underwater world”. While snorkeling, you will be equipped with a mask, a snorkel (breathing tube), flippers, and a flotation belt (optional). Previous swimming experience is encouraged, however, not necessary if you can calmly float on the waters surface using a flotation belt. Snorkeling does not require any specific training or much physical effort. Our Maui snorkel tours on the Four Winds II and the Maui Magic provide a snorkel 101 class on board before getting in the water.

Diving Mask 

A diving mask is a piece of equipment that allows divers and snorkelers to see clearly underwater. Since the mask has an air space in front of the eyes, it allows divers and snorkelers to view everything underwater normally and clearly. For those who uses glasses or contacts, you can use a corrective lens mask. On the Four Winds II and the Maui Magic, we have prescription masks that go up to -7.
Full face snorkel masks cover the entire face and allow one to breathe out of their nose and mouth. Although this sounds like it would be easier, there is the concern of CO2 building up in the mask, which in turn can lead to trouble breathing. On our tours, we do not recommend using full face snorkel masks due to this reason. Our boats use a separate mask and snorkel so that the flow of oxygen is evenly distributed.
While snorkeling, if you experience water leaking in to your mask, you can easily clear the mask. First, you will want to press the top ridge of your mask on your forehead and slowly open the bottom seal. Next, slightly tilt your head back and blow hard through your nose. The air expelled from your nose will help push the water out of the mask.


A snorkel is a device that allows one to breathe while having their face downward in the water, while the mouth and nose are submerged. A snorkel is an extremely helpful piece of equipment.

A snorkel allows you to partially submerge your head under water and breathe at the same time, while allowing air flow from above the waters surface. Snorkels are typically bent in a “L” or “J” shape with a mouthpiece located at the lower end. The mouthpiece is usually constructed of rubber and plastic. Located on the mask is a clip, which allows you to connect the snorkel to the mask and and reduces the chance of loosing your snorkel in the water.

While you are snorkeling, it is very possible that some water may make its way into the snorkel tube. To clear the snorkel is simple; forcefully blow out air through your mouth to push the water out.

Swim Fins

Fins play a very important role in snorkeling. Fins should light, flexible, and should fit snug. Loose fins can rub and often cause blistering on the heel. Since Maui has warm water, we don’t have to worry about keeping your feet warm, which is why we recommend using fins with less layers. We recommend using full foot fins with an open toe (this is what we use on our vessels). The Four Winds II and the Maui Magic have fins in every size. While on your way to Molokini Crater (or whichever snorkel location you go to), our crew members will go around and ask your shoe size and provide you with the proper sized fins.

Is it possible to snorkel without fins?
Yes, it is possible. However, with a good set of fins you can move much faster though the water, overcome water drag, and conserve energy while snorkeling.
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