I honestly didn't think my 4 year old would be able to snorkel that much on our trip to Costa Rica. He can't swim that well (or at least sustain himself in the water for very long), and I thought the whole mask, snorkel get up would trip him up a little.
Boy was I wrong, and I'm sure glad I planned otherwise.
If you're going on a trip where snorkeling is a possibility, make sure you go prepared with all the right things to introduce your child to such a cool experience.
What to bring:
Of course, you need a mask and snorkel. Because it was my son's first time, I wasn't sure if he would get the hang of breathing in and out solely through his mouth, so I bought him a kid's snorkel full face mask. He eventually got the hang of it and could graduate to a regular face mask, but I'm glad I had this as a way to introduce him to snorkeling.
My son can swim ok, but snorkeling requires sustaining yourself in the water for long periods of time. since we were traveling and I couldn't bring a whole swimming noodle in the suitcase, I brought this light, small swim belt that wraps around his waist and gives him the extra boost he needs to swim for long periods of time.
This is a great floaty to have for snorkeling or just for swimming around and I highly recommend it.
A lot of times when you're snorkeling, you're in places where the sun is strong. Instead of lathering on sunscreen every 2 seconds that will just wash off anyway, get your child a nice sun shirt that blocks UV rays. I bought a shirt like this one from REI for my son. We honestly had one for our entire 2 month trip and he basically wore it every day. It never got nasty and I felt like one was sufficient if you are trying to save money or space in your suitcase.
How to start
I think it can be pretty intimidating to start out snorkel in the middle of the ocean for a kid. Our first time taking Zay snorkeling was in a perfect spot where he could easily touch the bottom and there were no waves or strong currents. We started small and he was so excited to see fish and other sea creatures so up close.
It would have been nice if we had somewhat of a tether that we could have attached to us so it was easy for him to stay close by. Without it, we just held his hand as we swam and guided him on where to go. It wasn't completely necessary, but if you have a short rope or sling with clips on either end, that would work great.
Within a few weeks, Zay was snorkeling for hours on end (we could barely keep up) and ready to use a regular snorkel mask. But like I said, I was happy to have the introductory face mask to start. Let me know in the comments if you have any further questions about snorkeling with your little one!
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