Turtles swim past languidly. A ray is camouflaged against the soft sandy bottom. Reef sharks whizz by, not far from your flippers. The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s greatest snorkeling destinations, where legends of the ocean can be spotted close to the surface. And you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy snorkeling, either. Warm and shallow waters make the Galapagos an ideal destination for both beginner and experienced snorkelers.
Some commercial snorkeling organizations require snorkelers at their venue to wear an inflatable vest, similar to a personal flotation device. They are usually bright yellow or orange and have a device that allows users to inflate or deflate the device to adjust their buoyancy. However, these devices hinder and prevent a snorkeler from free diving to any depth. Especially in cooler water, a wetsuit of appropriate thickness and coverage may be worn; wetsuits do provide some buoyancy without as much resistance to submersion. In the tropics, snorkelers (especially those with pale skin) often wear a rashguard or a shirt and/or board shorts in order to help protect the skin of the back and upper legs against sunburn.
After making sure your equipment works and fits, do a test run. Get used to breathing out of a snorkel. Swim around a pool if necessary. Get used to the feeling first. If you are in a beach, start by swimming around the shallow area before plunging into the deep. By practicing, you are getting yourself used to the feeling of swimming around and breathing through the snorkel. Remember to always keep the top of the snorkel afloat. If water comes in, you can easily blow the water out.
Dehydration is another concern. Hydrating well before entering the water is highly recommended, especially if one intends to snorkel for several hours. Proper hydration also prevents cramps. Snorkelers who hyperventilate to extend sub-surface time can experience hypocapnia if they hyperventilate prior to submerging. This can in turn lead to "shallow water blackout". Snorkeling with a buddy and remaining aware of the buddy's condition at all times can help avoid these difficulties.
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