We get many snorkelers writing to us, and a question that comes up time and again is, how to snorkel?

Snorkeling is a fairly straight forward activity with many benefits including:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Exploring a whole other world right here on our doorstep
  • Enjoying the sunshine/ outdoors/ getting vitamin D (known as the “happiness” vitamin)
  • A good reason to travel to some stunning tropical destinations
  • A great activity that can be enjoyed by any age group making it a wonderful family activity
  • Provides a talking point- easy way to meet new people with shared interest

But how is it done?

For those of us who are confident swimmers, snorkeling is a very easy activity that can be made more challenging with the inclusion of breath-hold diving, but that is a topic for another post.

Snorkeling involves simply preparing and donning a mask and snorkel and most often fins and wetsuit/sun protection.

snorkeler on the surface with islands behind and coral below

Once in the water we simply float on our stomachs and gently move slowly on the surface of the water with out heads face down, while breathing through our mouths through the snorkel. Our noses are enclosed in the masks so the inclination to inhale through the nose is suppressed. The snorkel itself is specially designed so that the one end has a comfortable mouth piece attached (much like a mouth guard worn in contact sports). This end also has a one way value on it allowing the user to blow forcefully out clearing any water that may have entered but not get more water in it. The open end of the snorkel then sticks out of the water allowing the wearer to breath normally through their mouths while looking down in the water.

The mask allows our human eyes to see clearly underwater. Sometimes masks can fog up so it is recommended that the user prepares the mask before use each time by spitting into it and quickly rinsing it in the water before putting it securely on the face and tightening the strap just enough to hold it in place.

Snorkeler exploring pristine reef in Komodo

in order to avoid water leaking into the mask, one should be sure that the seal of the mask sits flush on the face without any hair or folds in it as such little creases allow water to slowly flow into the mask which can prove rather irritating while trying to enjoy the magnificent view of the underwater world.

What is snorkeling and why do we love it?

First let me approach the first part of the question…

What is snorkeling?

Snorkeling is the act of swimming through or on the water while equipped with a mask and snorkel. The Mask allows one to see clearly underwater, and the snorkel (a special hollow tube with a mouth piece on the end) allows one to breath the surface air while keeping ones head down. Very often one will also don fins and temperature dependent, also a swim skin or wet-suit.

snorkelers floating above coral reef wall

Why do we love snorkeling?

Snorkeling requires no formal training so almost any one can do it. While we recommend that snorkelers be proficient swimmers, even those less confident in the water can wear a life vest or hold onto a flotation device.

Snorkeling allows people to glimpse the underwater world. Largely unexplored, the ocean, especially around the coastal areas, is full of life. The abundance and variety of color and creatures is simply staggering.

close up of whale shark and snorkeler

Snorkeling allows people to witness wildlife, in it’s natural habitat, much like going on safari does. Watching a turtle slowly chopping on some coral or sea grass, unfussed by the presence of a snorkeler is so special. Similarly, seeing a reef shark cruise by on an evening hunt, or a school of brightly colored fish move as a unified group, or even watching a small slug slowly moving over a rock, snorkeling opens a whole new world to us, otherwise terrestrial dwellers.

Snorkeling also opens up the world of travel in a whole new way. Places one has never really considered visiting before suddenly become must-sees. This often leads to fantastic adventures in previously overlooked corners of the earth, often on spectacular beaches, interesting cultures and fabulous food!

Aerial view of Nunukan Island and reef

We have been lucky enough to spend more than a decade exploring the reefs of South East Asia and have come to love the Philippines, for its people, top side natural beauty and beautiful reefs and marine life.

Here are a few of our best places to snorkel in the Philippines:


We love to snorkel around this island. A small island in the Visays, near Bohol, Cabilao has some of the healthiest reefs in the country with an abundance of hard and soft coral gardens alive with schooling reef fish, turtles, and small critters. Cabilao itself has some wonderful seaside resorts and picturesque beaches to relax on between snorkel sessions.

Anda- Bohol

Tucked in the far quite corner of Bohol island is a beautiful bay called Anda. Here there is a long (14km) fringing reef which is home to all manner of marine creature ranging from the occasional whaleshark, to small seahorses, frog fish, eels, turtles and giant clams, to name but a few. This part of Bohol is reletively quiet and hosts fewer tourists than some other parts of the island and we think it makes a great snorkel vacation destination.

Moalboal- Cebu

Coral Reef Scene with beautiful light in pescador island

This coastal town offers amazing snorkeling opportunities. Our favorite is the chance to snorkel in a huge school of sardines. Watching these beauties move in their synchronized schoals is somethign truly special. Also a good chance to see jacks and trevally hunting the sardines. In the area there are also beautiful reefs, a good chance of seeing whitetip reef sharks and a host of tropical reef fish.

Coron- North Palawan

wwii airplane on reef

The fringing reefs are exceptionally healthy and colourful and offer the opportunity to snorkel over shallow boat and plane wrecks form WWII. Also some beaches here are spectacular. There is also a rare and beautiful lake, known as Barracuda Lake, which offers a sensory experience found almost no where else. The water in the lake is crystal clear, and whole there is little fish life int he lake, we love it because it has a thermicaline about 8m deep. Above the 8m mark the water in a cool 28C and below this it suddenly rises to over 38C. Such a wonderful thing to experience on a quick duck-dive.