photo 99pixel / pixabay
photo 99pixel / pixabay

Boat trips

We love snorkelling from boats. Each time we go to a new place, we find a way of getting out on a boat. They are great for snorkelling. You get to places that you wouldn't imagine existed, and find things that you just don't  see from the shore. We had a half share in a boat for fifteen years. Boats are wonderful.

On the other hand, boat trips can be  expensive, a waste of time, or dangerous: or all three. A little caution can be helpful here.

Let's start with the first question (which people have asked). "I don't know how to snorkel, but there's a boat trip. Is it OK if I learn to snorkel on the trip?"

The answer to that is: "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!"  You need to be a good snorkeller - don't try and learn from a boat. We have been out on trips when newbies have tried to learn how to snorkel. It was horrible. And dangerous. It was one of the reasons why we wrote Snorkelling 101.

After that, there are a lot of other questions...

Should I go with the hotel boat, or the guy on the beach?

There are four ways you can find a boat:

- look on the internet;
- get a recommendation from a travel guide or your hotel;
- find a dive shop in the street;
- talk to a guy on the beach or in the harbour who has a boat.

The first two are safer, in that you will most likely get qualified people who know what they are doing. The third one might be safe too, but you need to make sure they know how to cater for snorkelers. The last one might be safe, or it might not. It will probably be cheaper.

Obviously we can't recommend the guy on the beach: you need someone who is qualified and trustworthy. Whatever you choose, make sure the boat is safe before you get on it.

photo: Tappancs / pixabay
photo: Tappancs / pixabay
Philippines. photo: iricoyh / pixabay
Philippines. photo: iricoyh / pixabay
Hawaii. photo: cvigneau / pixabay
Hawaii. photo: cvigneau / pixabay

What questions should I ask?

How much does it cost? (basic many people will be on the boat?  is also worth knowing.)

Is it a snorkel trip or a dive trip? (Quite a few dive boat skippers will take you along for the ride - but divers like to go 15 metres deep. Snorkellers like to stay on the top. They are very different sports. We've been on a few dive trips, and now we avoid them. You'll probably spend the day watching all the divers roll off the boat. And a lot of money. Think of yourselves as expensive ballast.)

How long is the trip?  (An hour, two hours, half a day...)

How long does it take to get to the snorkel site, and is it going to be choppy?

Is there a sun shade on the boat? The sun bounces off the sea as well as beating down overhead. You WILL get sunburned if you're out in a boat with no protection - and you won't feel it, because of the wind. Until it's too late...

Will there be food and water? Because if there isn't, you'll need to take your own. Take water anyway.

Will there be a guide? Sometimes it's good if someone shows you round. If you're a new snorkeller, it's recommended.

Can I see the boat? If it's an old clunker held together with bits of string, don't go out in it. And check there's a ladder on it. Getting back onto a boat without a ladder can be tricky.

What should I do on the boat?

Put suncream on: and insecticide too if there are mosquitoes around. Wear a shirt and a hat. See suncream and insecticides.

Stay in the shade if you can.

Take your clothes and things in a bag and tie it up out of the reach of water swilling round in the bilges of the boat.

Don't jump in until the skipper says it's OK, and the engine is turned off.

Check there aren't any currents before you jump in.

Check for jellyfish before you jump in.

The best way to get into the water from a boat is to roll off the side backwards, holding your mask onto your face. That way it doesn't get pulled off - and if you're wearing fins, that will help them clear the side of the boat. And remember to hold your breath. It's not the only way though - see the references below.

If you've got a camera, ask a friend to pass it to you when you're in the water - or you might break the seal and get water in it.

When you're in the water, memorise the colour and name of your boat. There might be other boats around.

Always snorkel with a buddy. It's basic sea safety.

Keep your boat in sight at all times. If there's an emergency or it's time to leave, your skipper will be able to signal to you. And swim within your ability. Stop before you get tired.

Drink water when you get out.

Remember - ultimately, you are in charge of your own safety. The crew have a responsibility to you, but they might be new, or inexperienced, or just not very good at their job. Don't be afraid to ask questions, or to check safety guidelines.  Be a shark - not a sheep.

Thailand. photo: Walkerssk / pixabay
Thailand. photo: Walkerssk / pixabay
Not very elegant. And hold the mask!  Photo taniadimas / pixabay
Not very elegant. And hold the mask! Photo taniadimas / pixabay
It's a different perspective when you're in the water.   Photo: CCO / pixabay
It's a different perspective when you're in the water. Photo: CCO / pixabay

This is a very short introduction: and we are not experts, snorkel instructors, or snorkel teachers. We're just snorkellers who are trying to pass on information. So, don't take our word for it, do other reading.  Here are some useful sites: has some good tips: is a really good site:

aqua world has some good tips too:

Where to snorkel logo

Usual warning: we have made every effort to make sure this information is correct and up-to-date, but you need to check it all yourself.

© Garreg Lwyd Ltd 2018