Snorkeling (Can't Swim)

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The Land of Ahhs!
44,132 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
Originally posted by jack300s
Don't Laugh!! Is it possible to go snorkeling if you can't swim?
Think Snorkel Vest. But they are not a life saving device, so I would avoid deep water snorkeling.
1,621 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
It depends on what you mean by can't swim....I can't swim like you're supposed to...if I don't have a mask on I have to hold my nose to put my face in the water. But I'm a great floater (a little too much natural buoyancy), and I'm fairly comfortable in the water so I do fine snorkeling, even without the flotation belt or noodle. Before I tried it, I thought I would hate it, but I love it. Remember that you will float better in salt water than in a pool. But if you are truly afraid in the water, and can't float or tread water, I would think that even with the belt or noodle you might not be comfortable. I would recommend going in a pool with a belt or noodle on...if you can be in water above your head and not panic, then you will probably be ok. Also, email the tour company you are using and explain the situation. We went out to the Molokini Crater on the Kai Kanani, and they had crew members on float boards in the water near the stairs to the boat. Anyone who got tired or was nervous could stay near them and grab the board if they needed, until they were more comfortable or decided to get back on board.

I hope you will be like me and find that you love it too. Good luck!
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DW cannot swim, but we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay a few years ago. Without a snorkel vest, the saltwater kept us afloat nicely, and we just held hands and I was her propulsion. Since then, she has snorkeled a few times with a vest, and was fairly comfortable (still holding hands). Once she got used to breathing with her face in the water, she was fine.

She is a "surface snorkeler", and is comfortable floating on the surface while I dive to the bottom. She has begun to get used to swim fins after a few hours of using them.
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Be sure to use a flotation device (in case you get tired), swim only in calm, protected water and only swim in an area that is well guarded. Most of the reputable companies watch you carefully, in my experience. If you have time go to the YMCA and take a few basic swim lessons! Everyone should learn to swim - at least enough to be able to save yourself and not panic in the water. Besides, it's a lot of fun.
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i would have to say that it depends on your level of comfort. If you are able to relax with a floating device then you are cool. My sister can't swim very well, she is pretty scared of the water. I got her in the water snorkeling on a waikiki catamaran snorkel trip and the crew were amazing and assisted her and made sure she had an awesome time. It was a fantastic trip. When we were in Kona though, i went swimming with the dolphins and she stayed on board. it was just a bit too much for her. she loved seeing the dolphins but was too unsure about getting in with them.
So, it really depends on you...and make sure you pick a really good tour with excellent staff or crew cause they seriously will make all the difference
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Joined Jan 2005
My husband can't swim, but he snorkels. He always wears either a life vest or something. As long as he has the life vest, he feels comfortable. He loves snorkeling. Once he had the type of life vest like you might get on an airplane and it deflated and he paniced. It wasn't a pretty picture, but he got right back on the horse, so to speak. Go for it--as others have said, start with the walk in and snorkel type first--although, my husband was "plunged" into the deep water type first and did fine.
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Joined May 2007
Everyone "Thank you" for the great tips and advice...

I just didn't want to sit on the sidelines while everyone was enjoying the snorkeling. I've got plenty of time, maybe I'll go try and learn to swim.

Funny thing is I joined the Navy with some buddies many years ago and couldn't swim. While my buddies were matching and doing drills on the blacktop, I had to go to the pool twice a week and learn to jump feet first off a 20 diving board and swim 100 yards to the other side of the pool. I made it, they taught me to float on my back and do a back stroke or something like that....and that was many many years ago...

Again thanks for the help....

69 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I have been on many snorkling excursions and am amazed when people jump into the ocean wearing a life vest but unable to swim. I have pulled non-swimmers back to the boat because they were unable to swim in the current, I have watched kayaks "rescue" non-swimmers who drifted away from the boat and were unable to get back, I have watched a non-swimmer vomit up what seemed like gallons of sea water when a crew member "rescued" him from the ocean. Do not risk your life by jumping in deep water to snorkle if you can't swim. The ocean is unpredictable and you must be aware of the currents and the waves.