If you haven’t been snorkel shopping in a while you’ll probably notice a bunch of different options for snorkels you never knew existed! The classic snorkels you are probably most familiar with can now roll up into a little ball while others have purge valves and chambers at the base to collect excess water. Some have silicon accordion-like sections while others boast of their splash-proof or even dry tops! Then there’s the day-glow Darth Vader looking full face mask with a built-in snorkel protruding from the top of it! With all these vastly different options that all essentially serve the same purpose—a tube to breathe through as your face is planted in the water—you may be wondering which one is best for me? Here’s a quick and simple breakdown of the different styles and the intended purposes of each snorkel.

Classic Snorkel

In function, the classic snorkel or J-snorkel as they are often referred to hasn’t really changed much. What’s changed though in a lot of new classic “j” snorkels is the materials used to manufacture them. Many are now made from various polymers which allow for some short-term flexibility in the snorkels. Some can even be folded or rolled up completely for easier packing. These snorkels are not recommended for those who are new to snorkeling as they require a bit more effort to clear the water from. If you are an experienced and confident snorkel who likes to dive down and comfortable clearing the water upon surfacing then these are great snorkels.


  • Simple design
  • Easy to pack
  • Nearly indestructible
  • Low profile/hydrodynamic
  • Most affordable


  • Water needs to be cleared with a big exhale
  • Splashing water enters from the top more easily
  • The rigidity can be uncomfortable for some

Flexible Snorkels with Purge Valves

Snorkels with the flexible rubber or silicon section and accompanying purge valve at the base are some of the most popular among snorkelers now. The flexibility with these types of snorkels can make it a lot more comfortable to hold the snorkel in your mouth as well as providing two points of rotation for you to adjust the snorkel to fit around your head better. The purge valve below the mouthpiece—which is just a little silicon flap that opens one way—helps make clearing the snorkel a lot easier as the water will clear from the top and bottom. You can also lift your head out of the water and any water in the snorkel will just drain out through the bottom. These are great snorkels for people who are just beginning to snorkel and confident in the water to those who are seasoned snorkelers. Freediving or duck diving is not an issue at all with these snorkels and the added purge valve requires less force to fully clear the snorkel upon surfacing.


  • Easy to clear water
  • Flexibility allows for greater comfort
  • Mouthpiece drops away from the face when not in use
  • Affordable


  • The purge can fail if sand gets in it causing it to leak
  • Splashing water can enter through the top easier
  • The flexibility can cause the snorkel to flap around more when swimming fast
  • Extra drag can cause mouth fatigue

Semi-Dry Snorkel

Semi-dry snorkels will often look very similar to the flexible snorkel as they will typically have the flexible rubber section as well as a purge valve, but they will also have an added splash guard on top. Splash guards will come in different various designs, and some will even have moving parts, but the basic idea behind the splash guard is to help prevent any splashing water from entering through the top. The ergonomics and overall fit will be similar or the same as the previously mentioned type of snorkel, but with the added benefit of less water entering through the top of the snorkel when on the surface. These types of snorkels will let water in when fully submerged and may require a bit more force to fully clear the snorkel as the splash guard does add a bit of resistance. For those with larger lung capacities, this is also something to think about as the more obstacles a splash guard has to keep water out it may restrict the airflow a bit. A splash-guard with a larger diameter will allow more airflow and may be better for someone with larger lungs.


  • Flexibility allows for greater comfort
  • Mouthpiece drops away from face when not in use
  • Helps keep splashing water out
  • Can be fully submerged and cleared quite easily
  • Extra drag can cause mouth fatigue


  • Does not keep 100% of the water out
  • Splash guard can add a bit of resistance for breathing and clearing
  • Can be fully submerged and cleared quite easily
  • Extra drag can cause mouth fatigue

Dry Snorkelers

Dry snorkels are some of the most recent types of snorkels on the market and are slightly more complex than any of the other types of snorkels we’ve mentioned, but still very easy to use. These snorkels will typically feature the flexible tube as well as a purge valve at the bottom, but also be fitted with a valve at the top which blocks out all water—even when completely submerged. These snorkels are great for those that want absolutely no water in their snorkel at any time. While these snorkels can be submerged, it’s good to keep in mind that if you do like to dive down deeper than eight to ten feet the tube will collapse with the added pressure and can even suck your tongue into the mouthpiece which is quite uncomfortable. Something else to keep in mind is that many brands or models of dry snorkels have been known to get stuck in the closed position for no reason at all. In the closed position no airflow is possible and can be a bit disconcerting if it happens regularly while snorkeling. Also, because of all the moving parts now involved in the dry valve they are prone to get stuck in either the open or closed position if sand or dried salt builds up between the mechanisms. Before purchasing a dry snorkel it’s a good idea to read the different reviews, even the more expensive brands and models can have issues with the dry valves. 


  • Keeps all water out
  • Flexibility allows for greater comfort
  • Mouthpiece drops away from face when not in use
  • Purge valve allows water to exit through the bottom easily


  • The dry valve can get stuck in the open or closed position
  • Snorkels with smaller dry valves can be more restrictive for breathing
  • More expensive than other types of snorkels.

Full Face Mask

The full face masks are the most complex as they combine both the mask and snorkel in one design that fully covers the face. Prior to purchasing one of these though you need to be made aware that not all brands and models are safe. In the past, there have been a number of deaths linked to these types of masks as a result of drowning and also co2 poisoning. Buying cheap off-brand versions are not recommended and not allowed on our snorkel safaris. With that in mind, if you get one of the approved models and it fits properly they can be great as you just breathe as you would on land with a much larger field of view. The snorkels protruding from the top are dry snorkels so no water is allowed in. Full face masks are great for those that are nervous bout snorkeling and really not comfortable with the traditional mask as snorkel set up. Full face masks are not recommended for those that like to dive down. Also, really make sure that prior to buying a full face mask you try it on to make sure it fits your face perfectly, any leaks can flood the entire mask which is less than ideal. 

Internationally Approved Models 

SEAC: SEAC offers a number of models of full face masks, all of which are safe and approved for snorkeling.

Head/Ocean Reef: Similar to SEAC these brands are also tested and approved for snorkeling.


  • Large field of view
  • Breathing is more natural without a snorkel in the mouth
  • Can be a more comfortable fit
  • Snorkel keeps all water out


  • Large and not ideal to pack
  • Leaks can be very disruptive and potentially dangerous
  • Not ideal for duck diving
  • Dry valve can get stuck in the open or closed position with a build-up of sand and salt
  • Most expensive type of snorkel/mask

First of all, this is not a blog on what to pack for a snorkeling safari, that information is here. This blog is all about how to pack for a snorkeling adventure with us. It may sound like a simple enough subject—just toss in a week’s worth of tropical clothes and your snorkel and mask into a bag and off you go—but with the varying restrictions between your international and any domestic flights we may need to take to reach our ultimate destination, it’s a good idea to pack with a bit of a plan.

International Flight

Your main international flight from your home country to any one of the countries where the tour will be held is fairly straight forward. Just make sure you are within the weight restrictions for both checked and hand-carry bags and all should be well. With that in mind though, do also keep in mind the weight requirements for any upcoming domestic flights you may have once in the country our snorkel safari is in. For exa

mple, if our domestic flight from Bali or Jakarta to Komodo only allows for a maximum of 30kg for our checked luggage and 7kg of hand-carry baggage, you wouldn’t want to have a total luggage weight exceeding 37kgs even if your international flight allows for more than this.

Air asia baggage guide

Domestic Flights

For some of our snorkeling safaris we will be taking one or several domestic flights, particularly in Indonesia. So, it’s a good idea to adjust your packing a bit once you landed in the designated country. First of all, many of our domestic flights will be on smaller planes that will have more restrictions on hand cary luggage size and weights than a large international flight. For most domestic flights the hand-carry maximum weight is 7kg. Along with that, some of the overhead storage compartments are quite narrow so if you have a larger hand-carry bag it’s a good idea to confirm with us or the domestic carrier what their luggage size restrictions are.

Outside of luggage size and weight restrictions, it’s also a good idea to really plan what you pack in both your checked bag as well as your hand cary bag. Our Wakatobi safari, for example, involves a private charter flight from Bali to Wakatobi resort where our checked bags will be dropped of at our rooms several hours after we arrive at the resort. So, with situations like this in mind, it’s a good idea to pack an essential toiletry kit, a spare change of clothes, any medication, glasses, or prescription goggles, and any personal electronics you may need like a laptop or camera in your hand-carry bag. Something else to consider bringing is a power bank to keep your mobile devices charged during flights and car/boat rides.

carry on essentials

You may also find that for some domestic flights the regulations for what items can be carried on and what needs to be checked are more stringent, so we’ve included a generalized list of what items should go where. Please note, this is not an official list of what can be checked and what can not, just a generalized list of items often overlooked by guests.

Liquids: All liquid items over 100ml need to go in your CHECKED BAG

Aerosols: Things like shaving cream and aerosol deodorant or sun cream also need to go in your CHECKED BAG.

Tripods: All tripods and selfie sticks—basically anything stick-shaped—need to go in your CHECKED BAG.

Prescription Masks/Glasses & Medication: Any medication or prescription masks/goggles/glasses should go in your HAND CARY.

Batteries: All batteries, including power banks, need to be in your HAND CARRY bag. We strongly suggest keeping your batteries together in one container rather than scattered about in your bag, just in case the gate agent needs to see them.

It’s not uncommon to have hesitations or even a phobia of deep water. Not being able to see the bottom can throw even the most experienced snorkelers. I know that every time I jump in the open blue water to try and swim with a pod of dolphins or whale sharks and there is nothing but blue water below me I have to make a slight adjustment to my mental state and just remind myself that floating in the blue is no different to floating just above a reef. I know, easier said than done since phobias such as this are irrational and your typical pragmatism on land goes right out the window the moment you lose sight of the bottom. This fear doesn’t always have to control us though, and if we take the proper approach that involves both mentally and physically preparing ourselves, we can hopefully find ourselves confident and comfortable snorkeling in deep water. Here are a few steps that we have found to be helpful.

Become Accustomed to the Environment

Learning about the ocean is a great first step in helping control your deep water phobia. In understanding what is actually going on below you as you snorkel should then help curb any unwarranted fears by cultivating a positive state of mind about the ocean and deep water.

My Octopus Teacher

There are some really amazing underwater documentary movies and series which do an amazing job of capturing the beauty and reality of the underwater world. Some of the best ones are My Octopus Teacher, BBC Blue Planet I & II, BBC Planet Earth,  and Oceans. I highly suggest NOT watching NatGeo’s Shark Week or Sharkfest as they really tend to only sensationalize the fear based around sharks and shark attacks and not the reality of a shark’s normal response to snorkelers, which is to either ignore us or swim away. You are more likely to be injured by your toilet than by a shark by huge margin.

Slowly Introduce Yourself to the Environment

Snorkeler with life ring

Rather than just plunge yourself into the open blue water, I highly recommend starting off by slowly introducing yourself to it by letting yourself get accustomed to the shallow reefs and sandy bays first. If your phobia is quite strong, the shallow end of a pool is best and then work your way up to larger bodies of water. As you progress to deeper waters you may want to use an inflatable snorkel vest, a life jacket, or even additional flotation ring to give yourself an added layer of comfort. Also, don’t forget to do this with a snorkel buddy who’s already very comfortable in the water.

Mental Game Plan

Cow fish swimming right up to the camera with snorkeler behind

Even as your confidence with the water grows, it’s a great idea to have a mental game plan just incase that irrational fear does start to creep back in. Before each snorkel session make a little plan to help calm yourself down and regain control of your emotions. What I mean by this is, the moment you start to feel the panic coming back you need to give your brain something else to do, like count to one-hundred, identifying ten different species of fish, or just concentrating on a steady rhythm of breathing. It helps if you pick just one thing as too many different options can lead back to a non-focused state of mind and then the fear comes back. For me, I focus on listening to every inhale and exhale to keep them as steady and relaxed as possible. As I do this, I slowly swim back to a more comfortable depth until I feel like I’m back in control again.

The new year is just around the corner and as per the annual tradition of making positive goals for the upcoming year we’ve put together a list of snorkeling related New Year Resolutions, just incase you hadn’t come up with any yet and needed a bit of help.

10. Check all Snorkeling Equipment

It’s always a good idea to routinely check through your snorkeling equipment, particularly if it’s been a while since you’ve used it. One very important thing to check is to see if your mask still properly seals around your face. If you are not quite sure how to do that we have a quick tutorial here. Another thing to look over are your fins, especially those of you with the full foot fins (the kind without straps), and to make sure that the rubber pocket your foot goes into hasn’t dried out and become brittle. If that’s the case, it might be time to look at purchasing a new pair of fins.

Snorkeling equipment

9. Research Top Snorkeling Destinations

Instead of just swiping through facebook and the other social media apps for hours, why not put that otherwise “wasted” time to good use and do a bit of research on where the best snorkeling destinations are. We have a full inventory of trip reviews, videos, and destination guides on our blog here.

snorkeler swimming through overhang in reef

8. Practice Duck Diving

Why not hit the ground running on your next snorkeling holiday by already having the art of the duck dive perfected. If you don’t have access to snorkeling sites you can easily practice at a nearby gym or friend’s pool. A pool is actually an ideal place to practice diving down underwater and equalizing as there aren’t any waves or current and it’s a very familiar and controlled environment.

Snorkeler duck diving

7. Find  Snorkeling/Travel Buddy

If you just don’t seem to have any friends who share the same passion for snorkeling  as you do and you just don’t like the idea of traveling alone, there are still plenty of ways to meet fellow snorkelers like you who are eager to have a buddy to share the adventure with. A quick search on Facebook or other online snorkeling forums will reveal groups full of likeminded individuals.

6. Buy an Underwater Camera

Why not treat yourself to a little gift this year for making it though one of the most historic years in modern history. As camera technology progresses there are a ton of very affordable camera options, many of which are already waterproof and come with fantastic underwater modes for shooting amazing photos and videos.

Olympus TG5 sitting on beach

5. Practice or Study Underwater Photography Tips

If you haven’t done much practicing with your underwater camera lately why not take a few of your kids toys and your snorkeling buddy to a friends pool and toss them in and then let have a bit of creative fun pretending that Barbie is a porcupine fish. It might sound a bit silly but one of the best way to learn how your camera works is just time in the water with it. If there’s just nowhere to snorkel, even a pool, then I’d suggest reading some underwater photography tips so that once you do hit the water you have all the knowledge fresh in your mind.

Photographer photographing river scene

4. Purchase a New Piece of Snorkeling Equipment

There are some really amazing new pieces of snorkeling gear on the market now, from snorkels that don’t let water in to exposure suits that keep you just as warm as a five millimeter wetsuit but weigh the same as a sweater. Similarly, there are a lot of really amazing eco-friendly options for snorkeling gear now that companies like Fourth Element have started using textiles made from recycled ghost nets and old car tires.

3. Conquer that Fear of Deep Water

It’s not uncommon to have a phobia of open or deep water. Many people do. Rather than let this control you though, there are some very simple and practical steps you can take to help curb this fear, most of which just involve becoming more familiar with that particular environment. Some things we’d suggest doing are watching some uplifting underwater documentaries like My Octopus Teacher, or any of the BBC Blue Planet episodes as they will help give you a more real idea of what happens in the ocean. Something else to help relieve any anxieties about deep water is to just spend time in it, start with the shallow end of the pool and then slowly progressing to the deep end, and then eventually to lakes and protected bays if you have access to bodies of water like that. While we aren’t phycologists by any means, we understand that a fear of something will generally comes from just being unfamiliar with whatever it is you are afraid of, so the best thing you can do is take gradual and controlled steps to expand your understanding of the thing you fear.

Swimming underwater in a swimming pool

2. Get Back into Good Snorkeling Shape

While our snorkeling trips are pretty relaxed with guests being able to take the snorkeling sessions at their own pace, it’s not a bad idea to do a little bit of training prior to your trip. You don’t have to re-enact the pre-fight training montage from the movie Rocky, but  by just jumping in a pool with a mask, snorkel, and fins on and doing a few laps every now and then you’ll be doing yourself a favor as we use muscles while snorkeling you wouldn’t otherwise use while walking or ruining. Basically, anything that helps stimulates muscle movement and increases your overall stamina in the slightest bit will just help make you more comfortable while on a snorkeling tour.

1. Book a Once in a Lifetime  Snorkeling Adventure

If you’ve been saying for months or even years that “one of these days I’ll book a snorkeling trip” then right now is a pretty ideal time, especially since we’ve all been cooped up in our homes for the past ten months. You can find a full list of the guide-led group snorkeling safaris that we offer here.

Snorkeler Surrounded by Manta Rays

On just about all of our snorkeling safari’s we will always try to offer night or sunset snorkeling so you can see that amazing transition in specie’s behavior as day turns to night. If you are at all curious about what night snorkeling is like you can find out more here. For this particular blog though, we’re going to highlight one particular night snorkeling subject which can be found in both Triton Bay and throughout Raja Ampat once the sun sets, and that subject is a walking shark.

At this point you are probably wondering what I mean by “walking shark.” Well, as it turns out, there is a species of shark which actually prefer to use their pectoral fins to walk across the reef, rather than to swim. They are a type of epaulette shark, but are commonly known to us snorkelers as walking sharks. They are found in the shallow reef of northern Australia as well as New Guinea, with one particular species endemic to Raja Ampat and another to the Triton Bay area.

Epaulette walking shark on the sand

As both the Raja epaulette walking shark and the Triton epaulette walking shark are nocturnal species we don’t often find them in the afternoon snorkeling sessions because the burry themselves in the reef, but just after sunset is when they come out to hunt for small benthic creatures and small fish. As snorkelers we have the best vantage point for finding these unusual sharks since they usually are found right up in the shallow reefs, and even in tide pools at times. As you can see from the photos these are not your typical shark with their elongated body—which is mostly tail and decorated with a spattering of ornamental spots, not to mention the general sense of cuteness these sharks exude.

So there you have it folks, sharks can not only be comically cute, but also walk, and the best places to snorkel with them just happen to be Raja Ampat and Triton Bay in Indonesia!

Check out this short video to see just how these sharks walk, even on land! This particular species, which is nearly identical in appearance to the ones found in Raja Ampat and Triton bay is from Australia. The behavior is the same however.