Snorkeling & Buoyancy Devices

First-time snorkelers who have little or no swimming skills may find it quite challenging to keep afloat while in water. Below is a discussion on why buoyancy or flotation matters while snorkeling and the devices that can aid in balancing you as you have fun.

Snorkeling and Flotation

Let’s say you are going on a long snorkeling trip. Wouldn’t it be great if you could float without hysterically kicking your fins? How awesome would it be if you could effortlessly float around the surface while enjoying the view?

Well, with flotation device, it is possible. Thanks to a little something called buoyancy, you can swim around the surface and look at the seabed all you want.

How does buoyancy work? Well, liquids exert a certain upward force that somewhat opposes gravity. This force is called buoyancy. It is what keeps you floating near the surface while snorkeling.

Of course, this force is somewhat limited and depends on a number of factors like the density of the water you’re swimming in and the amount of air in your lungs. The other factor is the saltiness of the water. Salty water gives you more buoyancy than fresh water, making it easier to stay afloat.      

Since natural buoyancy is somewhat limited, some people prefer to use flotation devices in order to increase their buoyancy. This brings us to a very good question that first-timers ask quite often:

Is a flotation device necessary for snorkeling?

You know the difference between something you need and something you want? Well, that is the case when it comes to flotation devices.

It may not be as irreplaceable valuable as a snorkel, for example, but it’s definitely something you want with you if you want to enjoy your trip. Not to mention flotation devices come with all kinds of benefits.

First of all, the added buoyancy saves you the trouble of having to thrust your feet and kick your fins while snorkeling. This means you won’t get tired quite as fast and you will be able to stay out much longer.

The more buoyancy you have, the less risk there is of scratching against rocks or putting your fins on fragile corals.

It also gives you an added sense of security because if you ever get tired of swimming, you can just let yourself go and your device will help you float.

But that is not all. If you are someone who is really concerned with safety during snorkeling, then you should definitely consider a flotation device. Why? Well, for a few reasons.

First of all, let’s say for whatever reason, you become unconscious. It happens. What do you do? Well, if you’re wearing a flotation device, you will just glide up to the surface.

Not only that, but some devices give your chest and the area behind your head added buoyancy to ensure that you don’t choke on any water when you reach the surface.

Flotation devices definitely boost your confidence while snorkeling. Just knowing that you have a safety precaution, in case you get tired or cramp up, means you can relax and enjoy your time.

Snorkeling Flotation Devices & Accessories

The water sports market has plenty of flotation devices.

Buoyancy Vests/Jackets

These are the most popular flotation devices. We have created a detailed discussion on the 18 best inflatable snorkeling invests/jackets for both adults and kids plus a buying guide

Flotation Belts

The other group flotation accessories are swim belts. Though these items are intentionally designed for snorkeling, they still aid in keeping you afloat.

We have created a piece outlining the top 11 flotation belts on in the market as of 2019

There are tons of other useful flotation devices you can try if you don’t favor flotation belts and vests. Here are a few good examples:

Snorkeling Observation Buoy

Below is a video showing how they work.

More other devices include;

  • Shorties
  • Neoprene tops
  • Full wetsuits
  • Inflatable noodles
  • Pool noodles
  • Snorkeling buoys

Who Needs Buoyancy Devices?

Practically anyone could use a good flotation device. If you want to enjoy your time without much effort, it is definitely a great choice. Even experts may need it especially in rough currents or waves.

The point is, if you think you will feel comfortable and safe with a buoyancy device, you definitely need it.

That being said, there are some people who could benefit more than others such as:

  • Poor swimmers
  • Children
  • Seniors
  • Handicapped people
  • Snorkeling enthusiasts who want to spend a long time in the water
  • People who want to take every possible safety measure

Tips and Tricks to Maintain Buoyancy

Pinpoint buoyancy control is never easy. That being said, you don’t need to be a SEAL in order to learn the secrets of buoyancy. You just need a few good tips to get you started.

  • Relax your body completely
  • Come at it with appreciation
  • Practice floating in a pool or calm water before going on your snorkeling trip
  • Use a flotation device
  • When going underwater, descend slowly
  • Practice your breathing technique: take long deep breaths if you need to rise slightly and exhale slowly if you need to sink a bit


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