Snorkeling for Beginners: What to Bring, What to Remember

Snorkeling for Beginners: What to Bring, What to Remember

In Adventure, Things To Do: Makana Charters Blog by Makana ChartersLeave a Comment

Kauai is one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world. The oldest Hawaiian island has developed unparalleled underwater reefs over the course of its formative years, making it a hotspot for snorkeling.

Snorkeling is an activity for people of all ages. Learning to snorkel in Kauai can easily be the most memorable experience of your life.

But where should you start?

No one wants to look like an idiot on their first snorkeling trip. This post will help with the basic requirements, do’s and don’ts for a beginner to snorkel like a pro on the island.

Before you jump into the water, here are a few things to know:

What is Snorkeling?

In simple words, snorkeling is the act of swimming on water or underneath while wearing a mask and snorkel. The mask gives a clear underwater view while the snorkel helps one breathe surface air during the process.

Snorkeling Gear For Beginners: What to Bring for Snorkeling

A mask and snorkel are the basic equipment you’ll need for snorkeling. But sometimes you may need additional equipment for safety and utility.

Here is a list of equipment you can buy/rent on the island for your snorkeling trip:

Mandatory Gear


A snorkeling mask gives a clear underwater view. It can make or break a once-in-a-lifetime snorkeling experience.

Snorkeling masks come in different shapes and sizes. Ill-fitting masks can cause leaks and block your view underwater. You’ll have to take them off now and then to see clearly underwater.

To avoid the situation, buy or rent a mask that ensures a tight seal around your face. If possible, choose a single lens, tempered glass mask for unobstructed view and durability.


A snorkel helps to breathe surface air when you are facing underwater. Snorkels are shaped such that the tip stays above water when one’s head is underneath the water surface.

Keep these four points in mind while buying/renting a snorkel:

  1. Snorkel Size: The volume and size of a snorkel can affect the ease of breathing under water. Some snorkels are specially designed for children, which are helpful if you have kids in the group.
  2. Mouth Comfort: Snorkel mouthpieces are interchangeable. Choose one that fits your mouth perfectly.
  3. Seal: Snorkels come in three types- Basic, Semi Dry and Fully Dry. Fully Dry snorkels are sealed on top to prevent water from entering the tube when you are underwater.
  4. Water clearance: If water somehow enters the snorkel, having a purge valve at the bottom helps blow the water out and allows for comfortable breathing.


Fins provide stability and power for swimming under water.

They come in small, medium and large sizes, each serving different needs. Beginner snorkelers can start with medium fins as they are better suited for the purpose.

You can also choose between full foot pocket and open foot pocket fins. The latter allows for more adjustment and can be worn over reef shoes for safety.

Safety Gear

Snorkeling Safety Vest

Inflatable snorkeling vests help beginners and non-swimmers stay afloat during snorkeling. You can easily inflate them by blowing air with your mouth.

Wearing brightly colored vests enhances your visibility to nearby boats and can help avert snorkeling accidents.

Rash Guards

Rash guards or Wetsuits are for a snorkeler, what formals are to a professional.

Exposure to the sun and the ocean can cause bruises and cuts during snorkeling. Wearing a rash guard offers protection from such elements.

Reef Shoes

Not all snorkeling locations are easily accessible. Sometimes you’ll have to tread over rocky beaches or climb boulders before reaching the water. A good pair of water shoes will protect your feet from sharp objects at such times.

Optional Gear

Mesh Bag

Instead of carrying multiple bags to the snorkeling site, you can fit everything into an excellent quality mesh bag. Mesh bags also help dry out your snorkeling equipment and towels after use.

Waterproof Phone case

Snorkeling sites, like the Napali Coast, are only accessible by boat. Carrying a waterproof phone case will protect your phone from unexpected water exposure when you click photos.

Underwater Camera

Kauai’s underwater life can provide great insta-worthy shots. You will not regret carrying a camera on a memorable snorkeling experience.

Snorkeling Gear For Beginners: Where To Find Them in Kauai

To lighten your travel baggage, you can rent snorkeling gear in any part of the island. Depending on the rental, you can rent them for a week, sometimes even a month.

As mentioned earlier, finding a good mask and snorkel are of paramount importance. If the fit does not satisfy you, feel free to exchange the gear for a different one.

Snorkeling for Beginners: Things to Remember

Since this is your first time, it helps to remember a few things before beginning your snorkeling session:

Start in a Protected Area

Snorkeling is simple. But it takes time and patience to get used to the process.

Snorkeling in undisturbed shallow water allows for good practice and builds confidence, especially if you don’t know how to swim. Poipu beach and Lydgate Park are the best places to start.

Stay Relaxed

Snorkeling is all about floating and staying relaxed. Breathing through the mouth, and facing ocean currents can cause initial panic for some folks. If it happens to you, remember to relax, and the process becomes a lot easier.

Check the Ocean Conditions

Unlike the protected pools at Lydgate Beach Park, open seas are prone to unobstructed currents that can drag snorkelers along with them.

So please check the ocean conditions or surf reports to make an informed decision before snorkeling on a beach.

Be a Responsible Snorkeler

Snorkeling is fun only when we respect and preserve the area for people to come.

Some snorkelers stand on coral to rest when they’re tired. This can instantly damage the reef and stunt their growth. Applying reef safe sunscreen is another way to protect the reef from damage.

Do not touch or feed the fish when you’re snorkeling as it can hamper with their natural habitat.

Snorkel Equipment Care

Snorkeling equipment must be washed with clean water after every snorkeling session. Cleaning them removes the sand deposits and prevents equipment wear.

When not in use, don’t leave the gear drying out by the pool or under the sun for too long.

Take a Napali Boat Tour with Makana Charters

If you’d like to snorkel, you might as well do it on the most amazing coastline on the planet- The Napali Coast.

Makana Charters Napali Boat Tours depart from the Kikiaola boat harbor. This way you’ll spend less time on travel, and more time snorkeling on the Napali Coast.

Snorkeling gear will be provided onboard. You’ll get safety vests and all the help you need from the crew.

Imagine snorkeling in an undisturbed place, surrounded by a variety of colored fish and Hawaiian sea turtles. Exciting, isn’t it?

Final Thoughts

Armed with the necessary information, are you ready to snorkel yet? Let go of the initial jitters and just do it. The island is calling you to have the most memorable experience of your life.

Do share your snorkeling experience with us.

Leave a Comment