Best ways to teach kids how to snorkel and why a full face mask works well

MALDIVES - SEPTEMBER 27: (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)
MALDIVES - SEPTEMBER 27: (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images) /

Summer is here and the heat index continues to rise which makes the beach so appealing. For those who snorkel or dive, this is a great time of year.

I have always found it hard to tell my kids that I am going off to snorkel a shallow reef off the sand or telling my wife that I am renting a boat to get out to one of the reefs in the keys. She snorkels but not as much and my kids were always itching to learn.

There are some great beginners reefs in Florida, like Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West. The park has a really nice lagoon and is a perfect spot to teach kids how to snorkel while giving them the chance to see underwater sea life like parrotfish and barracuda in a safe environment. Still, if you live in North Carolina, it isn’t quite that easy to get to Key West.

So what should you do? Well teaching your kids how to snorkel, or even yourself for that matter, shouldn’t be done in the ocean or even off the sands of a beach. You should start in your own backyard, in a pool. Even a moderately medium size blowup pool will work. That is where I taught my oldest son to snorkel. In fact, he knew how to snorkel before he could actually swim.

I’m not joking. When he was only three years old, he wanted to put a mask on like I used. So we bought him one and he would lay face down in his “kids” pool and breath through the snorkel tube while pulling and pushing himself around the bottom.

Now, 14 years later, I’m starting to teach my two-year-old how to snorkel and swim at the same time. Now they have a wonderful full face mask and snorkel combination that doesn’t require having a mouthpiece in. This has helped and he is slowly starting to get used to it.

His swimming has taken a big step forward with arm floats instead of a vest so that helps quite a bit. We are teaching him to put his face in the water first so that he can get used to breathing normally in the mask and realizing that he won’t take on water. We have to make sure the seal is correct because he doesn’t understand that yet.

For adults learning to snorkel, this is a great way to learn as well. Our bodies will float easily in saltwater which helps keep us on the surface but of course, life jackets are important and required by most charter companies.

Snorkeling is a great way to get out into the water and see things from a different vantage point. If you have never done it and have thought about doing so, now is a perfect time to try it. All you need is a blowup pool or even a full bathtub to give it an initial go. From there, if you know how to swim, it becomes much easier and makes your travel destinations a little more fun with something new to look forward to.