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Snorkeling: How Deep Can You Go?

a turtle swimming under water

Take a deep breath and imagine you’re surrounded by fish, sea turtles, manta rays, huge chunks of coral reef and other stunning marine life. Luckily, you don’t have to go too deep below the surface for this incredible experience.

Snorkeling allows you to see the underwater world up close. Likely, it’s the closest many people get in their lives to see a sea turtle in their natural habitat or being surrounded by hundreds of tropical fish. Yet, as many snorkelers know very well, sometimes those fish or sea life they want to see up close don’t hang out within inches of the surface. This leads many new snorkelers to wonder, how deep can you go while snorkeling?

Keep reading below to learn more about how deep you can go when snorkeling.

Snorkeling Depth Depends on Gear

There’s a huge difference between snorkeling and scuba diving. That difference is mainly due to the gear used in each hobby. With scuba diving, you’ll likely have a full-body wetsuit, a breathing apparatus, and an air tank. This is because, with scuba diving, it’s expected that you’ll go deep under the water. While scuba diving, you can freely go deeper than the surface of the water, crawl along the ocean floor, and explore however deep you like.

With snorkeling, you don’t have that option since the snorkel tube is only so long.

Snorkel Tubes Length

Traditionally, snorkel tubes are about 16 inches long, making it difficult to go much deeper than that. Otherwise, water will fill the tube and restrict airflow. To fix this, the snorkeler will have to resurface and blow out their snorkel tube. To be completely safe, snorkelers should stay near the surface so as not to flood their snorkel. Realistically, snorkel tubes are for sticking your face in the water, not for diving into the depths of the ocean.

As a result, snorkelers often search for clear water, shallow water, and or waters where the coral rises close to the surface.

Snorkel Masks

Snorkel masks include a snorkeling tube and a full face mask. This type of snorkeling gear lets in new air but no water. Then, you breathe out the air into your face mask. With snorkel masks, you can descend up to six feet underwater without issue. However, your snorkel mask may fill up with CO2 and make it difficult to breathe. As a result, you shouldn’t go deeper than six feet or even stay in the water for more than 25-30 minutes.

Is Free-Diving Considered Snorkeling?

While some “snorkeling” utilizes long air tubes for the benefit of depth to the experience, usually when people are wondering “How deep can you snorkel” what they are actually referring to is called free diving.

While free-diving has it’s obvious allure, it’s important to recognize that free-diving requires a level of expertise that extends beyond the norm. Free-diving should be undertaken exclusively by experienced individuals who are intimately familiar with its challenges and intricacies. Our priority is safety, and we advise against attempting free-diving without proper training and guidance.

We find that the snorkeling experience is best enhanced on where you are snorkeling rather than how deep you can go underwater.

Will You Get “Bends” If Snorkeling Too Deep?

Going too deep in the water can make you develop a strange sickness called the bends. The bends are also known as decompression sickness or Caisson Disease. The bends occur when gas bubbles develop in your body as you rise through the water to the surface too quickly. Generally, as you rise through the water, you will swim through changing water pressure. That water pressure changes before your body can adapt so air bubbles develop in your joints and bloodstream.

Bends can be painful and harmful to your muscles, joints, lungs, brain, and heart. Bends can feel as minor as pain in your muscles or as frightening as stroke symptoms.

Go Snorkeling Safely With Kauai Sea Tours

To have a safe snorkeling experience, it helps to go with a team that has a long history of providing safe snorkeling excursions. At Kauai Sea Tours, we have helped thousands of guests go snorkeling around the island of Kauai. Snorkeling in Kauai is one of the most incredible experiences across the Hawaiian islands and we’re excited to help you make memories you remember fondly for years to come. We supply all the snorkeling gear and bring you to the best snorkeling spot depending on the weather.

Schedule your snorkeling excursion today!

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