Snorkeling can be dangerous - in fact, people die snorkeling every week. We don't write this to scare you, but to make sure you take your safety seriously.
** Snorkeling has inherent risks and dangers. Much of the information on this website including snorkeling locations and snorkeling conditions comes from third parties. Efforts have been made to ensure this information is accurate, but this website may contain errors or ommissions, or may be out of date as conditions, locations, and regulations can change without notice. Use the information on this website at your own risk. Snorkeling.info is not responsible in harm that comes as a result of the use of this website and the information it contains. **
The most important safety tip while snorkeling is to never do it alone. An overwhelming number of accidents happen to divers who go it alone, so having a buddy with you is a valuable asset in case of mishap. Choose a buddy who you are comfortable with and stay close together while you are out. And don't snorkel if you cannot swim. It sounds like common sense, but we receive a surprising amount of email on this subject.
Stay close to shore. Beginning snorkelers often misjudge their own capabilities and endurance and find themselves worn out or exhausted. Be sure to stay close to shore or reserve enough energy to get yourself back safely. Move onto your back and tread water for a few minutes to regain energy before coming back in if you are already tired or must return through rough surf or strong currents.
Be aware of your surroundings. Know the area that you are diving in and if there are any areas to avoid. Be very careful around rocky shores or pounding surf, which can pick up a snorkeler and cause injury. (During a snorkeling excursion in Hawaii a few years back we were watching fish near a rocky outcropping, and a large wave threw us about 8 feet into the rocks where the water was about 18 inches deep - luckily we weren't hurt, but we easily could have been) If you are snorkeling in open water, know the tides and be careful of getting sucked out or trapped by an outgoing tide.
Retain your energy. To avoid exhaustion consider snorkeling with a flotation device of some sort. A simple waist belt or snorkeling vest can make your excursion significantly more enjoyable by allowing you to focus on what you are watching and not on any fatigue you may be experiencing. (If you need to dive below the surface, you can leave your belt "up top" and find it when you surface. If you frequently dive below the surface, consider making several short dives instead of one long one, or make sure to use a floatation device to rest and regain energy between dives. You’ll enjoy yourself more and be more capable of avoiding injury if you are not over tired. Cold water can also drain a diver’s heat and sap their strength. If you are snorkeling in cold water, consider wearing a wetsuit or other protective equipment.
Do not touch marine life: Although most underwater animals will avoid contact with humans, many creatures have some method of defense if they feel in danger. To protect yourself, maintain a safe distance from all sea creatures and try not to make any sudden moves to startle the ocean inhabitants.
Be aware of the seabed. In shallow waters, coral and other rough surfaces can severely injure a snorkeler who is not careful. Do not let yourself get into too shallow waters, and be wary of outgoing tides, which may bring you closer to the seabed or suck you out farther to sea.
Learn first aid and CPR. If a person takes water into their lungs or stops breathing, the most effective response may be artificial respiration performed quickly. Learn how to properly perform CPR and basic mouth-to-mouth and practice performing it both on land and in the water. Take a first aid course and practice before you go out.