a snorkeler underwater surrounded by fish

What To Take On A Snorkeling Trip (Complete List)

Whether you are going on a quick trip, an extended vacation, or flying halfway around the world, the thought of getting there and finding you’re missing some critical equipment makes most of us cringe a little bit.

While forgetting some items isn’t a great deal, after all, you can buy a towel quite easily in most destinations, but imagine forgetting the prescription mask, or the snorkel and you preferring not to have equipment that’s been used by other people.

This isn’t intended as an article where I recommend you take everything so listed, but more of a checklist that you can run down to see if you’ve forgotten anything.

Nor am I going to put down ‘2 sweatshirts’, as clothing is far too individual a choice. 

So, let’s get started.

Snorkeling Equipment

These are the main items that will stop your snorkeling dead if they are missing. I mean, imagine getting to the edge of the water and finding you haven’t packed the mask.

So, with that –

Mask – If you’ve taken the time to get a mask before you go it would be rather unseemly if you found you’ve left it at home. Any straps or cases should also be included.

Snorkel – As many don’t like the idea of hiring a snorkel used previously by others then many would-be snorkelers buy their own rather than relying on hiring one. You can buy and take one that has your preferred features, whether that’s semi-dry, float valved, or with a purge valve.

Fins – A lot of people don’t pack fins preferring to rent while at the holiday location, or taking specific sports/travel fins. Larger blades for the fins can move you faster in the water but they are more difficult to travel with.

a female snorkeler near the beach underwater

Snorkeling Extras

In this section, it’s items that you still need to have a good snorkeling experience, but aren’t the main items of equipment.

Mask defogger – Preventing the mask from fogging up is paramount for your enjoyment. Apart from water leakage, a fogging mask will quickly kill what should be an amazing experience. As you can buy them non-toxic, and biodegradable, then taking one of these sprays is advised.

Swimming cap / Bandana – These aren’t used as a fashion accessory but can help keep hair as fixed as possible while snorkeling. If you are balding then they will prevent sunburn, but if you have long hair then they can stop hair floating and possibly blocking the snorkel when resurfacing.

Swim trunks / Swimsuit – Whatever you naturally swim with then I’d go with this is a good one not to forget.

Extra swim gear – If you are planning just a few excursions, or a quick one day boat trip then the extra gear isn’t necessary. However, if you plan on doing a few, then perhaps another set is an idea, as you can have one drying while taking one out for the day. 

Rash guard – A lightweight item of clothing that prevents a snorkeler against the sun, stings, cuts, and keeps them warm without having to take a wetsuit.

Mesh bag – Depending upon what you’re doing, a mesh bag can be handy and they are really light, and scrunch up quite small. Dropping everything into them keeps them aerated and stops the awful wet soggy smell from developing.

It’s good to consider one of these as you can keep all your kit drying in the same place, and on a boat trip with lots of stuff moving around, it helps keep your stuff together.

Reef shoes – Slightly misnamed as they are not designed for helping you walk on a reef. Lightweight shoes to help you across the rocky ground or shale like beaches.

Getting out to the area where you want to be snorkeling in bare feet isn’t a great idea if you’re walking on the uneven and painful ground.

Booties – Not quite like reef shoes but they’re close. They help walking across sharp ground, yet they are thin and flexible enough to be used inside a fin.

Beach towel – On tours, you may be given a towel, but depending upon where you are going you may need your own. Popular destinations often have shower areas and you may want to dry before getting into transport.

Dry sack – These typically come in various sizes and around water based areas there will always be a small shop selling them. They are made of watertight materials and you place clothing and equipment in them that you wish to keep dry. The top is then folded over causing a seal. Theoretically, they can be immersed in water and keep the contents dry.

Main bag – A bag capable of keeping all items that you need to take on a short trip. Will allow a single snorkeler or a couple to take all their gear in one bag.

Prescription lenses – While you are unlikely to forget these if you need them, some masks come with the availability to put clip in lenses so don’t forget the inserts when you pack the mask.

Float vest – For any person going snorkeling who isn’t confident in the water then taking a float vest which assists with buoyancy can be a great addition. It stops people from worrying and getting nervous if they aren’t great swimmers. 

Wetsuit – When you might be snorkeling in slightly colder water a wetsuit might be needed. Unlikely in many tourist places during the season and they are bulky. Still, if you need one it’s best to have your own. Shorty wetsuits are normally the best for a snorkeler.

Neoprene socks – Even the best fitting fins can cause a blister with all that kicking and rubbing. A selection of neoprene socks can provide some comfort and protection if you are going out for a day.

Snorkeling Ancillaries

These are the items that while aren’t functional to the act of snorkeling they are nonetheless additional items that are useful to have with you.

Waterproof phone case – Phones are very expensive and water is plentiful. No matter how careful you are, risking hundreds, maybe even thousands on your phone for the sake of a few dollars on a waterproof case seems like a prudent idea. Normally they come with straps and adding a freezer bag around it as well adds another layer of protection.

Small dry bags – Phones aren’t the only thing you might not want to get wet. Maybe passports, or watches, or anything sentimental isn’t a great idea. Anything from a kindle to a paperback doesn’t do well with the addition of water.

Layer up and remain confident that water ingress isn’t an issue.

Underwater camera –  As they are getting cheaper and cheaper many people buy one specifically for their snorkeling adventure. They can go into the expensive, but catching you swimming with turtles can be pretty inexpensive nowadays.

Don’t forget the selfie stick if you have one for underwater use, nor any adapters.

Microfibre towel – These towels absorb water like a sponge and dry really quickly so they are excellent to take with you. They can dry kit if water splashes on it, and dry your ears to stop infections.

Reef safe sunscreen – The correlation between snorkeling and bright sunshine is high. Add water glare and any period in the water can give painful sunburn. A rash guard will stop most of it but there are areas sunscreen might need to be applied. Choosing a brand that is friendly to the coral environment might be a good idea as well.

Lip balm – Many people can suffer from cracked lips, which are all the more painful in saltwater, so if you do, it’s not great to forget it.

a female snorkeler holding out a starfish

Snorkeling Extras

Listed below are the items that are pretty much an individual choice based not only on preference, but the type of snorkeling trip that’s planned.

  • Glasses cases
  • Medical stuff
  • Medicines
  • Mosquito spray
  • Food / water
  • Bananas / cereal bars / energy drinks
  • Cellphone
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Pain reliever
  • Swimmer’s eardrops
  • Earplugs
  • Seasickness tablets
  • Toiletries / Toiletry bag
  • Cash (entrance fees, transport, food)

Final Thoughts – Parting Waves

Hopefully, now you won’t forget anything. That amazing snorkeling trip still awaits, without any ‘oh no – I forgot to pack the….’ style issues.

If you have your own gear that you know fit you then it’s more than advised to take that than anything else. The same for anything you wear that you work well.

You can rent most of the gear to go snorkeling, but making the effort to take your own is a must do if you want the best from your snorkeling. A mask and snorkel are the basics, but anything else you can’t do without, better to take it and not need it as they say.

Common sense permitting.

Many travel without fins preferring to rent once at the location, however, decide what is personal to you, and pack accordingly.

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