As a dive instructor one of the questions we get asked a lot is “Why do we need to carry a snorkel on our mask? We are diving what’s the point?” Well PADI state that every student taking an Open Water course must at least carry a snorkel on them, preferably attaché to the mask. But why do you have to have one?
Well here in Koh Tao we are very lucky with the diving conditions and rarely deal with waves, surge or strong currents. However in many parts of the world those conditions are what you are going to have to deal with on a regular basis. Now if you have ever been diving in even only 1 metre waves you notice a lot of water splashes around your face and gets into your mouth, if you only have a short swim on the surface then that isn’t a problem but there are many shore dives around the world where you have to swim a few hundred metres out before you can descend to the site, combine that with a 1 metre swell and you have a fairly uncomfortable surface swim. Now in comes the snorkel, with only a small opening with specially designed splash guards, you can battle with even the roughest conditions and only not even taste a drop of sea water. Also in strong currents you can put your mask on, snorkel in, face down and power swim, do this with your regulator and your air will do to zero in a few minutes!
The reason many divers hate snorkels is because they have not experienced a good one! You might think a plastic tube can’t really be improved but you are wrong, even basic adjustments to them makes a huge difference, such as the clip to the mask can adjust the angle to make it more comfortable. My favourite snorkel is called the Hyperdry made by Tusa, it will cost around 1500 baht and is worth every bit of that! It can fold into 3 which neatly tucks into your pocket when you want to go into a wreck (they can become entanglement hazards) The clip also swivels for comfort in the water, however, unlike most snorkels the clip barley touches the mask strap, so if you have longer hair, don’t worry about getting it yanked out, you won’t even feel it is there! It also boasts the best designed splash guard to prevent water from coming in over the top and if it does it has a great exhalation valves which traps water if it does leak. All in all it is a top quality snorkel, and being as you will most likely spend a lot of money on a good mask you should do the same for a snorkel, after all it is for your own comfort! And another reason you should have one, when you go on holiday you have a free daytime activity, just go of the beach for a snorkel session, in many places in the world you are much more likely to see turtles and sharks while just floating on the surface!