You can snorkel with a long hose in a pool only. You cannot snorkel with a long hose in the ocean because it would be unsafe. And even in a pool, you can only do this for a short time.

Maybe you have read about or seen some videos on people snorkeling with a hose in their pool, and you wonder if it is also possible to do that in the ocean. After all, if you could, then hypothetically, you should be able to go deeper into the water for longer.

If you are wondering why you can’t snorkel with a long hose in the ocean, this will be detailed below. You will also want to know what the best way to snorkel is and what the best options are for that. 

Why Can’t You Snorkel with a Long Hose?

Well, for one, snorkeling is a water activity that requires you to stay on the surface of a body of water. Usually, people like to snorkel where they can see underwater wildlife. So while you could, in theory, use a long hose in a pool for a short amount of time and at a shallow depth, it is not practical for most snorkeling purposes. It also is not a guarantee you would be able to breathe. A garden hose can get kinks in it that would make it hard to breathe. It would not be safe to attempt in the ocean or any other large body of water. 

Additionally, unlike scuba diving, snorkeling does not allow for diving. There is a reason for this. First, traditional snorkels aren’t made for it. You need to be able to breathe in through the snorkel, which has to be out of the water. You can breathe hold for short periods of time, called free diving. We have a post on that. But you’ll return to the surface once out of breath to exhale carbon dioxide and take a breath.

Increased Pressure

One reason for this has to do with pressure increases that occur the deeper you go (Univ of Illinois.) Even at only a depth of five feet, you would have a mass of an additional 2 pounds per inch pressing on your lungs from the water pressure alone. 

Aside from the fact that it would already be hard enough to breathe from a long hose without the pressure changes, if you decided to try to go diving with one, you would then also have additional pressure coming from the hose. It would end up feeling like you have hundreds of pounds of weight on your chest, which would make it incredibly hard to breathe (Univ of Illinois.)

Unventilated Air

Additionally, unlike a snorkel, a long hose is, well, long.  This length increases the amount of unventilated air space from the entry point of the breath (where you inhale) to the exit point of the breath (where the air would be coming out of the hose). Even when you breathe using a regular snorkel (which is significantly shorter than a hose), some air remains inside of the tube. 

This remaining air would be considered “dead air space” (as discussed in the NLM Pub Med article) and contains previously exhaled air. The previously exhaled air contains carbon dioxide. Thus, with a long hose, you would be inhaling even more carbon dioxide with each breath you take.

The larger the unventilated air space is, the higher the amount of dead air space there will be. And CO2 won’t be cleared from the other end of the hose as efficiently as a short snorkel.

Fortunately, with a regular snorkel, if you start to feel you are running out of breath on the surface of the water (due to the carbon dioxide build-up of the dead air space), you can immediately come up for air–take out the snorkel and breathe normally. This is unlikely though, because of the short lengths.

You would not be able to do this if you were trying to dive underwater with a hose. Thus, using a long hose as an attempt to pseudo-snorkel, or free dive underwater while trying to get air from the surface, would be extremely dangerous.

Snorkeling is meant to be performed at the surface. There is a reason scuba diving requires certification: scuba divers are trained on the pressure changes that occur as they go deeper underwater. They also use pressure-compensating regulators that allow them to breathe from compressed gas, which keeps the air supply greater than the ambient pressure. 

Even scuba diving can be unsafe, so a recreational snorkeler should not be diving to deep depths. Plus, if you are using a regular snorkel as the activity intends, you cannot go diving and use a snorkel for breathing anyway. You would be free diving at that point. 

Snorkel and mask on beach. Long snorkels are harder to use and may be unsafe

What Should Be Used to Snorkel?

You should use a traditional snorkel, mask, and fins. That is it. It is the only way to snorkel and has been since the dawn of snorkeling. Plus, it is the safest way too. It may seem tempting to try and reinvent the wheel by “snorkeling” with a long hose, but for your safety, stick with a regular snorkel and mask. If you want to go deeper into the water, try getting scuba diving certified. Do not go diving with a long hose. 

What is the Optimum Length of a Snorkel?

The maximum length for a snorkel without compromising safety is 16 inches. Again, therefore a garden hose at a minimum of 25 feet in length would be considered unsafe: 25 feet is way longer than a traditional snorkel’s 16 inches! 

With that said, the length of the snorkel being 16 inches maximum is due to not wanting to create an unsafe amount of dead air space in the snorkel tube. Additionally, because pressure increases on the lungs as a person descends in the water, it would only take an estimated few feet under before the average human would lack the needed strength to inflate their lungs and inhale.

Therefore, it would not make sense to design a snorkel longer than 2 feet because no one would be able to use it anyways. With a comfortable mask and snorkel, you can stay underwater as long as your physical endurance allows.

Wrapping Up

If the above recommended snorkels aren’t right for you, we have a few more recommendations in 5 types of snorkels you should know about. You can’t snorkel with a long hose, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop snorkeling. Snorkeling is an enjoyable activity even when using the standard snorkel. As long as you get out there, get to see some underwater wildlife, and stay safe, that’s all that matters!