Does the Weather Affect Snorkeling?

Snorkeling is a great activity that many people enjoy while on vacation or if they enjoy swimming in open waters. Snorkeling provides the fun of swimming with the ability to see under the surface of the water while still being able to breathe. But, snorkeling is only as good as the visibility the surroundings, like weather and water clarity, provide. 

Does the weather effect snorkeling? Yes, weather can play a big factor in how much snorkeling one can do. The biggest reason why is that visibility can be reduced once more extreme weather is in the area, thus putting snorkelers at risk.

With that in mind, there are certain situations where snorkeling during mild weather is welcomed and sometimes encouraged. There is also the concern for boats that bring snorkelers out to the dive spots of being in danger during certain weather situations. 

The Ideal Conditions for Snorkeling

Snorkeling is not necessarily a fair-weather activity. You can definitely go snorkeling in all kinds of weather, up to extreme situations. The biggest reason for snorkeling in fair weather is visibility. 

Visibility means how much beneath the surface a snorkeler can see without any issues. Essentially, if you are snorkeling, you should be able to see the bottom of the water; if you cannot, you are either too deep, or the water is too muddied. 

When choosing the best spots to snorkel, the biggest factor can be the ingress and egress of the location. If you are looking for an easy way in and out of the location, shallower waters are the choice you are looking for. But if you do not mind a wait time to get out a little further into the ocean, be wary of getting into and out of a boat and how difficult it might be for all people in your snorkeling party. 

Most snorkeling spots in popular destinations are right near the land or beaches. Snorkeling is best done in water 10-15 feet in depth; this is because, at this depth, a snorkeler at the surface can generally see to the bottom of the water, if conditions allow. Fish will also be easier to see and be more colorful; the deeper the water, the more color is distorted. 

Most cruise lines that offer snorkeling as an option with their destination packages will take people out to shallower waters; this is to ensure that people can be near the shore in case of emergency, plus it can be the best spot to see in the waters. 

But, there are snorkeling spots that do require a boat to charter people out deeper. With that in mind, there are situations where the vessel could have issues in getting out to the spot. Snorkeling companies will keep a keen eye on the weather multiple days out to determine if they have to cancel or postpone the trip. This is mainly for the safety of the people and the boat.

Overall though, there is such thing as a perfect day to snorkel in. In most cases, a sunny sky with mild temperatures is great for any outdoor activity. But, if the sun is not out, overcast skies can be a good sign as cooler temperatures can lead to a more enjoyable time in the water.

Does Rain Affect Snorkeling Visibility?

If there is a weather pattern than can affect snorkeling, rain is probably the least enjoyable to the activity. First off, rain is hard to navigate a boat vessel through. Navigating through the weather is obviously the first part of the trip, and having an added element like rain can make things more difficult and dangerous. You’d think getting wet wouldn’t be a big deal for people who are getting in the water anyway, but cold rain blowing in at the speed of the boat really sucks.

If you get to the snorkeling spot before it rains, and then the skies open up while swimming, rain can have both positive and negative effects. Positively, rain while snorkeling can mean cooler weather. Most spots for snorkeling are in tropical or warmer weather situations, so any chance to have cooler weather is greatly welcomed.

Also, as a positive, rain, especially lighter rain, does not have any real effect on visibility on snorkeling. If there is not a huge downpour, then the surface is not broken as much by the rain and, therefore, not disturbing the surface as much.

Negatively though, rain can have a huge effect on snorkeling. If you are snorkeling in a shallow area of the water, rain can definitely affect the visual nature of the activity. Snorkeling is heavily based on the ability to be able to swim along the surface of the water and look down into the depths.

Also, a lot of snorkeling spots are near places of runoff; runoff from rivers, mountains, or other spots can muddy the waters near it and thus effect the visibility of snorkeling. Runoff can also hang around for multiple days at a time, so even the next day or two after heavy rain can affect the best snorkeling spots.

Rain can also affect the wildlife in and around the water. Similar to fishing during or right after a rainstorm, it could be difficult to find or see wildlife as rain usually drives fish away from the surface. 

Does Wind Affect Snorkeling Visibility?

Wind does not really have much of an effect on snorkeling as long as the wind does not lead to more extreme weather. Calm wind can bring cooler weather to the area, which in turn helps snorkeling be more enjoyable. But any wind that leads to extreme weather or causes the water to become choppier, can quickly put a damper on things. 

Wind can be a huge burden in snorkeling, especially if you need to charter a boat out to deeper water. Wind can create choppier water, create more waves, and can create a more dangerous situation overall. Boats operating in choppy water can have limited maneuverability capabilities and thus may not be able to reach the destination safely. 

There is also the dangerous situation of being out on the water if the wind picks up. The water could become choppier, which can make entering and exiting the water more difficult. It can also hinder the maneuverability of other vessels in the area. Plus, choppier water is harder to swim in.

Wind can also affect the bottom of the ocean too. Wind creates the choppier water, which in turn can affect the sediments and sand on the ocean floor. It creates a muddier and cloudier field of vision below the surface, which effectively ruins the snorkeling.

Snorkeling relies mainly on calm surface water, which is easier to swim in and see to the bottom. With wind, the wave height can increase, and generally, three feet in height is the threshold for safe snorkeling conditions. It becomes more dangerous to swim in general, plus water can crash over the head of the snorkeler and affect the breathing capabilities. 

Conclusion

Overall, snorkeling is best done under sunny skies and overall good weather patterns. There is the benefit of a light wind and overcast skies that lead to cooler temperatures and can be a more comfortable experience. But, along with those two weather phenomena comes the added chance for rain and a potential storm, which can ruin a snorkeling trip.

Always be aware of the weather in the coming days before and after your snorkeling adventure. Runoff can ruin a snorkeling trip for days on end, and a storm can mean a postponement due to safety reasons. Always check with the local area weather. With so many smart phone weather apps, it’s easy to do so.


Sources:

https://surfclubmaui.com/sports/snorkel/snorkel-tips/

https://ninjashark.com.au/blogs/topic/snorkel-when-its-raining

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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