How to Snorkel Without Swallowing Water – A Simple Guide

Whether you’re dog-paddling close to the shore and snorkeling in the middle of the ocean, an enjoyable experience can rapidly turn into a nuisance if you get a mouthful of salty water. This guide shows you some tips and tricks on you can go snorkeling without swallowing water! Controlling your breathing as you snorkel will not only help you move faster in the water, it’ll make the entire experience more fun. After all, we’re not fish so you want air in your lungs and not water!

How to go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling while avoiding to Swallow Water when you're on the surface or underwater

How Can You Avoid Swallowing Water Through the Snorkel?

From choosing the right gear to making sure you wear it properly, every decision affects just how freely you can breathe fresh air in your lungs and move around in the water when you snorkel. Let’s have a look at the different impacts your gear has when you want to find out how to snorkel without swallowing water!

Choose the Right Snorkel Mask

The wrong mask, or even swim goggles, can mess up your entire snorkeling experience. It may fog up your view, but most importantly, it may allow water to seep in making it impossible for you to avoid swallowing the briny water. This is a common problem with ill-fitting full-face masks, but even with regular snorkel masks, you can accidentally snort some water through your nose instead of your snorkel.   

Make sure your snorkeling or diving mask is the right fit for you. If it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can rent one. However, if you plan on snorkeling frequently, invest in a snorkeling mask that fits just right on your face so that it’s not too tight but also keeps the water out.

One way to test if your mask fits well is to hold the mask to your face and breathe in. if the mask stays in place without you having to hold it, it fits perfectly.

However, this method only works with regular snorkel masks. With the full-face ones, you have to measure your face and match it to the size chart of the snorkel masks you’re looking at.

Even then, chances are your mask might not be a perfect fit because everyone’s face is different. While it’s still safe to snorkel in, it might not be too comfortable to wear.

Positioning Your Snorkel

If you attach the snorkel too low on the strap, you won’t be able to fully utilize the length of the tube. This basically means that you won’t be able to submerge your face too far into the water because the top of the tube will get submerged, causing water to get in.

Best Full Face Snorkel Masks – Reviews and Buying Advice

Should the snorkel be on the left or right side - it's more important for scuba diving as you also have to deal with the regulator

Keep Your Hair out of the Way

If your hair gets stuck in your mask, it will cause water to leak in. you can either tie a bandana before slipping your mask on, or if your hair is really long tie it up in braids to avoid dealing with stray hairs.

This will only be a problem if you’re using a full-face snorkel mask. With a regular mask, you don’t have to worry about this.

Stay Calm

Since you’re breathing through a snorkel tube, you’re likely to feel a little discomfort. Don’t panic. If you’re new to snorkeling, get comfortable breathing through a snorkel before going deeper into the water – How Deep Can You Snorkel? – Underwater Snorkeling Guide.

Bob close to the surface, put your face in the water, and breathe. Once you’re feeling relaxed, swim further in and look at the exciting things happening underwater.

Stressing out can cause you to gasp for more air and can inadvertently cause water to seep into your mask or enter through the top of your snorkel. Exhale slowly when you’re snorkeling to save your breath.

Regularly Empty Out Your Snorkel

If you’re resurfacing after diving underwater, you’ll need to empty out the water from your snorkel. You can do this in two ways:

  1. Take the snorkel out of your mouth and drain the water
  2. Blow or exhale really hard into the mouthpiece of your snorkel and the water will come out from the top end of the snorkel. If you’re using this method, test out your breathing to see if you’ve gotten all the water out. If you’re not good at getting all the water out this way, stick to the first method.

Use a Nose Clip

If you keep forgetting that you need to breathe through your tube and not your nose, you can make use of a nose clip to avoid inhaling salty water. Place the nose clip on top of your snorkel mask to keep your nose closed. This will not be an issue if you’re using a full-face snorkel mask.

Use Your Tongue

Treat your tongue like a makeshift splash guard. Hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth when inhaling. If you accidentally swallow some water, it will go below your tongue as opposed to going doing down your throat if your tongue is pressed against the roof of your mouth. When you’re exhaling, you can blow this excess water out through your snorkel tube.

Snorkel in Calm Waters

If you’re a beginner, go snorkeling in waters that aren’t too rough. If you’re unprepared, a big wave can come crashing right over you and leave with a salty taste in your mouth. Snorkeling in calmer waters will prevent you from being slapped in the face by the waves.

Snorkel Fin Buying Guide

How to find the best snorkel vest - Staying safely afloat reduces the chances to go underwater like for scuba diving and swallowing water instead of breathing air

Find the Best Fins for Snorkeling

How to Make Sure You Stay on Top of the Water

To prevent water from getting into your snorkel tube, you’ll need to keep your head above the water. Rather than using your expert swim strokes, try to glide through the water with the help of your fins.

Remember, snorkeling is supposed to be a relaxing activity where you float in the water and observe the fish below and around you. You’re not competing in a swimming race.

If you’re not a great swimmer and find it difficult to remain afloat without flailing like a fish on land, make use of a floatation device. Even just wearing a life jacket will make you more relaxed in the water and help you move around comfortably without swallowing seawater.

Although it’s possible to snorkel without fins, if you’re a novice, fins can be pretty useful. You won’t need to put in as much effort to move around in the water which will prevent you from running out of breath and gasping till you accidentally get hit in the face by a salty wave.

Avoid Swallowing Water with a Dry-Top Snorkel?

Dry-top snorkels have become popular among snorkelers, especially beginners. Dry snorkels have a cover on the top part of the tube to prevent water from entering, even if you’re completely submerged. Ideally, a dry snorkel never allows water to enter the tube.

The flap at the top of the dry snorkel remains open when you’re above the surface. Once you go into the water, the flap closes. A little water may enter the tube as this happens, but it can be drained easily by using the blowing technique mentioned earlier. Dry snorkels also feature a valve at the bottom for draining the water.

The dry snorkel will stop you from swallowing or choking on the water. This will also allow you to spend a longer amount of time in the water, observing the sea creatures around you.

The dry snorkel is bulkier and more buoyant than a regular snorkel. Be careful that it doesn’t bob so much that it causes your mask to stretch off your face slightly, causing water to get in.

An alternative is a semi-dry snorkel. It uses a splash-guard on the top of the pipe to prevent water splashing in. You end up snorkeling without swallowing water in most situations. However, the splash-guard is not the same as the flap you have on the top if you use dry snorkels! There is some chance that water gets into your tube and mouth when you use a semi-dry snorkel.


The flap of a dry snorkel may accidentally snap shut at the exact moment you were about to inhale which can be potentially life-threatening. If this happens, don’t panic and just open the flap manually.

Dry vs. Semi Dry vs. Wet Snorkel – What are the Differences?

Breathing air instead of accidentally going underwater and sucking in water is important to keep you safe.

How to Snorkel – A Beginner’s Guide

Full-Face Snorkel Mask to Prevent Swallowing Water?

In recent years, snorkelers have started using full-face snorkel masks. They are easy to use and do a great job of keeping water out. You don’t even have to worry about inhaling any water because the mask covers your entire face.

However, it’s important to only get snorkel masks for well-known and tested brands to prevent unfortunate incidents of suffocation from occurring. And of course, you always need to be prepared for the possibility that water will seep through your mask if it’s ill-fitted or something gets stuck and it doesn’t seal properly.

Snorkeling with a Purpose

All these methods work for recreational snorkeling (Is Snorkeling Good Exercise?). If you’re snorkeling to catch fish or other sea creatures such as abalone (or even just to see some fish up close), you will have to dive a few inches deeper into the water. You have the option of tying on additional weight, but don’t add too much since it may put you at risk of drowning.

If you’re snorkeling with the purpose of diving into the water, a semi-dry or dry-top snorkel is preferred. Even a full-face snorkel mask is a good option.

Pros and Cons of Full-Face Snorkel Masks

Full-face masks can help to make sure to breathe air and not water. Even if you go down like at scuba diving!

Review of the Wildhorn Outfitters Seaview 180 Degree V2 Snorkel Mask

Salt-Free Snorkeling

With the right equipment, breathing tips, and precautionary measures, you can snorkel freely without the fear of swallowing saltwater.

However, no matter how careful you are, a freak wind or a sudden wave can suddenly cause water to drip down your snorkel tube and into your mouth. You need to be prepared for such instances and drain the water properly without panicking.

In cases like these, snorkels with a water-draining valve at the bottom come in handy because you can get rid of the water without having to remove the snorkel first.

You certainly will increase the risk that you breathe water instead of air when you go down underwater like you’re going scuba diving. Even a dry-top snorkel in that case might let water into the tube if you dive straight down.

A little salty water is a small price to pay for a spectacular view of the underwater world of the ocean.

How to go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling while avoiding to Swallow Water when you're on the surface or underwater
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