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Snorkelling Equipment for Beginners Dorset

choosing snorkelling equipment dorset how to choose snorkelling equipment dorset learning to snorkel snorkelling adventures dorset snorkelling equipment dorset

Summer's finally looking like it's arrived, hurrah!, our local Dorset coast is looking beautiful, so I thought I'd share some tips to help you choose the right snorkelling equipment to keep you safe and enjoy the most beautiful views. So what do you need and where do you start?

choosing a snorkelling mask dorset

First up, let's look at masks. They're the window to an incredible underwater world, so it's super important that they will be comfortable, not leak or fog and are durable too.  There's a plethora of brands out there, but you will always find the best brands at your local dive shop.  You'll be able to try them on, get expert advice and ensure that they won't have the dreaded leak factor when you're beneath the waves.  I started out my snorkelling adventures many years ago with a mask made by MARES, and incredibly in my 20 year career in the dive industry I still love it.  Top tip to know it doesn't leak - simply hold the mask to your face without the strap in place and breathe in.  If the mask stays on, congratulations, you have a fit.  If it falls off, you know that there is a good chance it will have a leak.

Snorkelling with a Full FaceMask

So what about full face masks?  Yes, they make you look like some super cool experienced underwater space cadet, they can be easier to breathe through and there can be less jaw fatigue from biting onto a mouthpiece.  There are two big disadvantages to them, firstly that you can't "duck dive" beneath the surface as water will enter the tube and you can't equalize your earspaces, plus they can be extremely unsafe as Carbon Dioxide (the air we breathe out) can collect inside the mask whilst snorkelling and can therefore cause "blackout episodes", particularly if you are keen on spending either a long time underwater or finning fast to catch a glimpse of your favourite fish.  If you really like this kind of mask, make sure that you buy one from a reputable brand.  Your safety in the water is always paramount.

How to Choose a Snorkel in Dorset

Ok, so it's time to seize that snorkel!  The most important factor when choosing a snorkel is ensuring that the mouthpiece fits and that it will be comfortable for long periods in the water.  A nice soft silicone mouthpiece makes a whole world of difference if you're as passionate about the ocean as I am.  There's three kinds of snorkels:-

  • Basic Snorkel.  This is simply a tube of hollow plastic that forms a J at the mouthpiece.
  • Semi-Dry Snorkel.  This includes a splash guard at the top of the snorkel to prevent large amounts of water from being splashed inside.
  • Dry Snorkel.  This has a dry top feature which prevents water from entering the opening.
Choosing snorkelling fins dorset

Next up, let's look at fins.  Different sizes, different shapes, lengths, materials and designs, all of which are crucial when you are deciding which will suit you best.  The main thing to think of is the water temperature that you will be snorkelling in, and weight if you are travelling.

For snorkelling here in the UK I always recommend "Open Heel Fins."  These are fins which as the name suggests - have an open heel at the end of the fin, which are designed for you to wear aquashoes or booties in.  Scuba Divers always wear these kinds of fins too.  Why do I love them so much?  Because so many areas of our shores have pebbles or rocks and they are comfortable to walk in until you get to the area where you will be snorkelling, and also to protect you against any sharp objects or weever fish that may be hiding in the sand.  They can be a bit heavier than full foot pocket fins.

how to choose snorkelling fins dorset

Full foot pocket fins weigh less and they are designed so that you can pop your foot straight into them and off you go!  They are ideal in warmer waters, but you can also wear them here in the summer months when you are entering the water off the steps at Swanage Pier, simply by sitting on the steps, slipping them on and in you go!

choosing freediving fins in dorset

Another set of fins that you may have come across are "Freedving Fins."  The longer blades displace the water quicker, helping you to propel yourself through the water faster, using less time, oxygen and energy.

Finally, let's look at wetsuits.  Warmth is essential as even though it is sunny and hot, water aborbs our body 25 times faster than in air, which can make you feel chilly pretty quickly if you're not wearing a proper wetsuit.  The good news is that here in Dorset, a 5 mm long sleeve quality suit will keep you warm during these summer months, but if you feel the cold or snorkel often or for long periods, I would choose a 7 mm one.   I also love my neoprene hood as this will really help me to keep warm and stop me getting an "ice-cream head."

Last super important tip, never go snorkelling alone and always take a surface marker buoy or a tow float with you so that you are seen in the water.  Research the area before you go and always let someone know where you are.

choosing snorkelling equipment in dorset

So there you go, I hope this will help you in some way to demistify all the equipment that is out there and feel free to drop me a line if you need some help.  I'm open every day between 12 and 4 pm if you want to pop by and chat through equipment ideas.

I'll be writing again soon with more equipment tips and ideas.

Happy Snorkelling :)

Maria x



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