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Snorkeling with Kids
Snorkeling Destinations
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Family Travel Tips
Snorkeling with Kids

Exploring the house reef at the Maldives


Photo by Boris Schmalenberger, courtesy of MTPB

Children are naturally curious. And thanks to recent films, Disney's In Search of Nemo to name one, that curiosity extends to the underwater world. Whether you explore shallow waters in search of a certain black and orange-stripped fish or gaze at marine life in the folds of coral reef, snorkeling is a great way to turn a family beach vacation into an adventure with kids. What's more, snorkeling is inexpensive and it affords family fun for everyone.

You need not be a professional diver to enjoy the underwater world. Snorkeling requires nothing more than a mask, snorkel and fins! Yet there are a few things you can do to enhance a family snorkeling trip. Selecting the right snorkel gear and introducing the kids to snorkeling equipment, one piece at a time, will ensure the excursion is enjoyable. Snorkeling near your children will make it safe and fun; not only can you help them identify fish you can assist them with difficulties such as a flooded mask. An adult should enter the water first. Not only will this enable a parent to assist the children it will help the little one overcome any residual fear. Make sure each child wears a secure life vest, no matter how well they swim.

Snorkeling is a rewarding experience for both adults and kids. Yet curiosity and the quest for an exhilarating experience can easily lead to a situation in which sea life is a risk. As tempting as it may be to bring home a souvenir of your child's first snorkeling vacation, it is prohibited to collect shells and coral in many tropical destinations. What's more, simply touching coral can cause the death of an entire colony.

Families partaking in a group tour will want to discuss onboard etiquette before they depart on a snorkeling trip. Teach the kids how to work out of their gear bag and avoid a sprawling mess on the boat floor. Be sure the tikes understand the importance of remaining seated when the boat is in motion as well as the need to keep out of the way of others. If you outing includes divers, allow them to enter the water first.
Getting Started
Not all beach destinations are the same. Carefully research your options before you book a family-friendly hotel or purchase a plane ticket. Find out if your preferred destination is subject to rough seas or significant tides. Determine whether the kids can snorkel from the beach or if it's necessary to book a snorkeling trip to view more than sand.
The Right Trip
Ok conditions for divers may not be ideal for snorkelers. Before you depart on a snorkeling trip that caters to scuba divers, determine the conditions as well as the length of the excursion. Rough waters and a strong current may not impact the quality of a dive but they can turn a snorkeling trip into an outing to forget. Keep in mind that jumping off a boat with mask, snorkel and fins is entirely different than snorkeling off the beach. Younger children and first-time snorkelers may have more fun snorkeling in shallow water. Struggling with snorkeling equipment while fighting to keep afloat could prove to be traumatic.
Plotting your Route
Survey the beach before you jump in! Locate the best snorkeling sites and get tips for accessing the reef. Get the kids involved in the search for sea grass and lone pieces of coral that attract marine life.
Selecting an Outfitter
Day trips and dive safaris offers accomplished snorkelers an opportunity to further explore the underwater world. Find out what is included in the cost, whether snorkelers and divers are permitted on the same trip, and how much time will be spent on the boat.
Travel Gear
Make sure the snorkeling equipment fits properly and that your child is comfortable with the gear before venturing offshore. Sasy (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) enables children aged 5 and up to experience the underwater with scuba equipment instead of a snorkel. Many resorts and outfitters rent or provide snorkel gear free of charge.
Packing Tips
Don't focus only on the snorkel gear. Sunscreen and a t-shirt will protect your child's skin from the tropical sun. A skin suit or wetsuit will keep them warm. A laminated card with local fish and an underwater camera - many single use models are appropriate for underwater usage -- will make snorkeling that much more fun. Pack each child's snorkeling equipment in a mesh bag that is light and fun to carry.
Health & Safety
Don't underestimate the risk of seasickness on a boat-based snorkeling trip; an ocean that appears calm from shore can actually be rough at sea. Potentially queasy kids should sit in the center of the boat, keep their eyes on the horizon and limit their snacks on board to dry crackers and carbonated drinks.
Travel Trivia
Which of the following are descendents of the Anasazi:
Books for Kids about Oceans
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