A lot of people wonder what type of wetsuit they need for a snorkeling trip, if any at all. My recommendation would be yes, no matter where you go snorkeling and how warm the water, purely for protection from the sun. But that’s just me being hyper-aware of anything that involves being in the sun, as I happen to be ‘blessed’ with a skin type that turns a really awesome shade of reddish pink after several minute of sun, then right back to that shade of white that can only be described as pale after the peeling process is over. So yes, this blog is going to be all about what type of wetsuit you need for several different locations. 


Skin Suits and Rash Guard

snorkeler diving down to photograph coral reef

  • Best for warmer waters of if you just naturally run hot. 

These types of exposure suits are great for warmer waters as they really just protect you from the sun and the little stingers in the water, without letting you get too warm. The skin suits are great options as they are basically just a thin lycra material that will either be full body design or a long sleeve t-shirt you can wear with your swimming shorts. If you want to do a bit of freediving, this option is great as you won’t need to pack along any extra weights to help you dive down since the lycra suit is neutrally buoyant. 

1 mm Wetsuits

Snorkeler diving down to photograph marine life

  • Good for warmer waters or if you have a tenancy to get a bit chilly.

The 1mm option will give you a bit of added protection if you happen to get a bit cold even in warmer waters, or if you plan to do a long snorkel session. If you intend to do0 some freediving I would recommend taking a smaller weight with you as the added neoprene will keep you more buoyant. 

3-5mm Wetsuits

Happy couple snorkeling a reef in Komodo

  • Best for colder waters or for people that really get cold no matter how warm the water. 

A 3mm wetsuit is a great in-between option if you’re planning a trip to a place like Komodo or Alor where temperatures changes can be quite dramatic. Whereas the 5mm option will keep you warm—quite possibly too warm—depending on the water temperatures. If you’re planning to do a lot of snorkeling in cold water—say 18 degrees Celcius or 64 degrees Fahrenheit—this is not a bad choice. However, if you plan a bit of duck-diving or freedving you’ll need to pack along some extra lead as this amount of neoprene can be very buoyant. 

Just because you’re next snorkel trip is planned for the tropics doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paddling about in bathwater. For example, in places like Komodo, Alor, Bali, and Tonga I know that you may do one dive in water that is eighty-two degrees Fahrenheit only to jump in on the next snorkel site to find that it’s sixty-four! So, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research before hand into what the water temperature is like in the area you’ll be snorkeling and then dress yourself accordingly. 


When I told my family that I was going on a snorkeling adventure to Indonesia, they questioned my sanity.

‘Mom, are you sure about this?’ They said. ‘People like you don’t travel.’

They were right.

I had worked my entire life, raised three darling children and aside from two-week vacations with my family, I had never traveled before.

Having recently retired at the grand age of 65 I now have many years ahead of me to rest, enjoy and do all of those things I previously hadn’t had time to do. My one regret in life is that I had always wished that I had traveled more, I’d seen the most wonderful documentaries about the world’s oceans and fondly looked back on vacations to the Florida Keys where I’d been snorkeling many years ago.

One afternoon I was catching up with my daughter over coffee and we were talking about our calendar plans for the year ahead. She suggested that I should do something crazy this year, start a mid/late-life crisis which would surprise everyone who knew me.

‘Go on mom, go for it whatever you want to do!’. She said. ‘Surprise us!’.

Her words hit a chord and when I got home later, I started thinking more about a traveling adventure. I had my doubts as the thought of traveling alone filled me with dread, but I started researching on the internet and something caught my eye.

Six months later and I was checking into my flight, the destination – Bali in Indonesia.

Arriving into this foreign land had butterflies in my stomach. The humidity that hit me as I stepped off the plane and the instant kind and charming nature of airport staff dissolved the tiredness I felt from the long journey over. This was just the beginning of my exotic adventure.

A day later and I was wiggling my toes on a white sandy beach. Turquoise water gently lapping around my ankles and the warmth of the morning wind blew at my hair. I was in paradise.

I had arrived at the Komodo Resort in a far-flung part of eastern Indonesia, after checking into my charming beach bungalow (and a mint and lime mocktail later!) I headed to the resorts on-site dive center for my induction and briefing about the day to day running of my snorkeling trip.

house reef and pier at komodo resort

I became acquainted with my snorkel guide who would be with me on each of my daily excursions. We examined detailed maps of the outlying islands and range of snorkel sites we would visit, gazing at flip charts brimming with a variety of marine life, all of which I would (hopefully) be seeing on my stay. I couldn’t believe I was doing this, but with excitement and trepidation, I jumped in.


Over the course of my week in Komodo, with the help and support of my guide, I experienced and did things I didn’t think possible. I learned that leaving your comfort zone is the BEST thing I could have done and should have done years ago.

Learning to snorkel properly had me gliding over a spectrum of color, encountering tropical fish I had ever imagined. I also gained a huge amount of confidence the more time I spent in the water, improving my technique and general fitness. Even towards the end of the vacation, I was taking part in yoga classes. Something my kids found hilarious.

‘Mom, doing yoga?’. They said with open jaws.

Now back at home I look back on my trip with the most wonderful of feelings. This might sound silly, but I firmly believe that my vacation has given me a new lease of life, I feel there are no boundaries, despite my age, for me to experience and see things I previously felt unimaginable.

Split shot of Komodo reef and Komodo island

The biggest problem I now have is having to wait to go on my next snorkeling adventure.