How Deep Is The Water You Snorkel In? | Sunkissed Sports

How deep can you go while snorkeling? More importantly, how deep is the water you snorkel in? To understand more about how deep snorkeling water is, continue reading below.

Take a deep breath and try picturing yourself surrounded by fish, sea turtles, manta rays, enormous coral reef chunks, and other gorgeous aquatic life. Fortunately, you don't need to delve too deep underground to have this amazing experience.

With a snorkeling mask, you can go up to six feet underwater without any problems. On the other hand, deep water snorkeling can take you at least 10 to 30 feet under the surface. Deep water snorkeling requires you to hold your breath while underwater since a snorkeling mask won’t work that deep.

You can get a close-up view of the undersea environment through snorkeling. It's likely the closest most people ever get to see a sea turtle in its natural environment or being surrounded by a school of hundreds of tropical fish. However, as many snorkelers are well aware of, occasionally the fish or other marine life that they are hoping to view up close doesn't hang out just inches below the surface.

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How Deep Is The Water You Snorkel In?

When it comes to scuba diving, you'll need a full-body suit, breathing equipment, and an air tank. This is due to the fact that scuba diving involves going quite deep underwater. You can freely explore as far below the surface of the sea as you desire while scuba diving. Snorkeling, on the other hand, is not meant to take you too deep under the ocean.

Since snorkel tubes are typically just 16 inches long, going any deeper is challenging. If not, the tube will fill with water, which will obstruct airflow. The snorkeler will need to surface and blow air into their snorkel tube to fix the problem. Snorkelers should avoid flooding their snorkels by remaining close to the surface for their own safety. Snorkel tubes aren't really meant for plunging into the ocean's depths; rather, they're for placing your face in the water. As a result, snorkelers frequently seek out seas that are clean, shallow, or where the coral rises abruptly from the surface.

A snorkeling tube and a full face mask are both included in the snorkeling gear. You exhale into your face mask and up to six feet underwater while using a snorkel mask. However, the CO2 in your snorkel mask could build up and make breathing difficult. Therefore, you shouldn't dive more than six feet below or even stay in the water for longer than 25 to 30 minutes.

Moreover, snorkeling can also cause an illness known as bends. It can be contracted by diving too deep in the sea. Decompression sickness and Caisson Disease are other names for the bends.

The bends arise when you rise through the water to the top too quickly, which causes gas bubbles to form in your body. Typically, you will swim with shifting water pressure as you go up the water. Before your body has time to adjust, the water pressure changes, causing air bubbles to form in your blood and joints. Bends can hurt you physically and be bad for your heart, lungs, brain, and joints. Most divers and snorkelers who experience bends often neglect or ignore it. However, the symptoms can sometimes be as obvious and painful as the symptoms of having a stroke.

Snorkeling is typically done in shallow seas to allow easy breathing. But if you know a few snorkelers or anything about snorkeling, you might have heard about ‘deep water snorkeling.’ So what exactly is deep water snorkeling then?

As the name suggests, diving deeper than the usual snorkeling depths is known as deepwater snorkeling. The only difference is that you won’t be able to breathe through your snorkeling mask. You will have to practice inhaling and rely on your breathing.

How Far Underwater Can You Snorkel?

Depending on their level of expertise, snorkelers can dive from 10 to 30 feet under the surface. However, how well they swim, how long they can hold their breath, and how they react to pressure underwater all play a significant role in this. Typically, snorkeling takes place in clean, shallow waters. You'll be wearing a snorkel, and your body will be roughly 12 inches (30 cm) under the water. Snorkels can be as long as 14 to 15 inches at their longest.

If you want to explore the underwater world in greater depth while snorkeling, you will have to rely solely on your breathing because you cannot use the snorkel too deep underwater. You must be able to hold your breath for as long as necessary to dive and then surface again.

So, if you still want to dive deeper and explore the underwater sea life, you will have to practice holding your breath for a long period of time. As a beginner, you should start by holding your breath for at least 45 seconds to 1 minute and eventually for 3 whole minutes.

An additional factor to keep in mind while going deep water snorkeling is the water’s pressure. Your lungs will feel additional pressure as you dive deeper. Therefore, beginners should exercise caution when deep snorkeling.

Is Snorkeling Safe in Deep Water?

Honestly, no, it is not safe. But this does not stop professional snorkelers from exploring the deeper pits of the ocean on their snorkeling adventures. Although it's uncommon, some snorkelers love diving into deep waters, especially if they spot something intriguing, such as a fish or an object.

The depth of the water you can enter depends on your swimming and breathing prowess. Snorkeling won't ever get you as deep as scuba diving, but that shouldn’t stop you from going deep.

Snorkeling can take you into somewhat deeper water than you normally would with a little practice and the right gear. When snorkeling, holding your breath is the most efficient way to descend farther beneath the water. This may be risky and challenging, though. The most essential point is to be aware of your body.

Return to the surface right away if you have lightheadedness, nausea, cramps, or dizziness. When you dive further, the high water pressure makes it challenging to breathe without compacted air.

Once they gain some confidence in shallow water, most people will snorkel in water that is between 10 feet (3 meters) and 30 feet (10 meters) deep. The ocean floor is the only thing visible at these depths.

Is Deep Sea Snorkeling Risky?

Yes, deep sea snorkeling is risky, just like any other water sport. Drowning is a possibility while while snorkeling, and tragically, unforeseen catastrophes do happen periodically. Although it doesn't happen often, drowning is always a possibility when near water.

Snorkeling-related drowning incidents have been reported on a number of occasions, both confirmed and unsubstantiated. Most accidents happen when a snorkeler gets tired from being in the water too long or from fighting currents. It's possible that the strain on your lungs will be so great that you won't even feel it until it's too late and you have already passed out underwater. Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

How long can you stay underwater and snorkel?

  • When snorkeling, you can stay face down in the water for an endless amount of time and submerge for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  • A proficient snorkeler might stay underwater for one to two minutes. The snorkel offers no advantages for breathing while deep sea diving.
  • How adept you are at holding your breath for an extended period and conserving your energy determines how long you can stay underwater.
  • A snorkeler with little expertise can submerge for up to a minute and descend to 30 feet (10 m).

The majority of snorkels are only 12 to 15 inches long for a reason. That is because if you go beyond that time, you start to encounter some serious issues. A long tube is obviously impractical since it could snag or break on something in the water, which is the first obvious reason. The second issue is that the water pressure makes it challenging to breathe air from the surface. It will start to feel like you are gasping for air through a blocked tube when you are about 1.5 feet (18 inches) down.

The third reason is that every time you exhale, carbon dioxide is released that might not completely pass the tube. As the CO2 accumulates over time, you will eventually breathe in less fresh oxygen and more CO2 each time. Even if you're still breathing, there will come a point where it will feel like you're asphyxiating, which is exactly what is happening.

In other words, it wouldn't be practical to try to snorkel at a depth below the surface. Instead, you ought to become proficient at holding your breath and dive deeper to observe the aquatic sights up close.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Snorkeling Experience

You should either learn how to duck dive or practice how to scuba dive while snorkeling rather than attempting to snorkel deep underwater. The ability to hold your breath while swimming underwater for a brief amount of time is known as duck diving. When snorkeling, seasoned divers will dip beneath the surface to have a closer look at whatever catches their attention.

To make the most of your snorkeling excursion, you don't need to be able to breathe underwater. Instead, learn how to enhance your duck diving technique and freely explore the beautiful underwater sceneries.

Snorkeling water can be anywhere from 30 and 50 feet deep, and it can be difficult to gauge its depth from a distance. Before it gets difficult, you can snorkel down to a depth of 1.5 to 2 feet. For novices, until they can plunge into considerably deeper water, these depths are good enough.

Snorkeling is one of the best and most enjoyable activities to explore marine life in the water. Snorkeling is done in rivers, lakes, streams, and sometimes even flooded quarries, depending on the location. However, you must remember that, like any other water sport, snorkeling can also be dangerous if necessary precautions are not taken.

As long as you pay attention to the water and respect your physical limitations, snorkeling is rather safe. But your safety could be impacted by the water's conditions as well as your ability to hold your breath and handle water pressure.

Risks of Snorkeling

Water Conditions

Snorkeling in glass-like calm water is very different from snorkeling in windy, tumultuous waves. When the surface of the water is level and it cannot enter your snorkel, snorkeling is much simpler. Snorkeling in a riptide or current can be risky since it is challenging to swim away from them.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can lead to dehydration or stroke. Dehydration can cause heat exhaustion, which can ultimately end in heatstroke - a potentially fatal condition. However, due to being submerged in water, most people are oblivious of how warm they are. Therefore, most snorkeling is done in a tropical setting to avoid heat exhaustion. Plus, it is quite relaxing and enjoyable.

Skin Tan

Most snorkeling activities are carried out on a sunny day since the corals and fish look more vibrant and apparent under sunlight. Contrarily, the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun are extremely dangerous, and prolonged exposure to them will cause sunburn.

Since sunscreen easily rubs off in the water, applying it to your skin is not the most effective way to protect it. The majority of sunscreens also contain artificial ingredients that could harm the coral and fish you are watching.


Muscle cramps can also be brought on by overusing a muscle, straining a muscle, or staying in the same position for a long period of time. Your legs may probably start to cramp, especially if you’re not used to swimming.


Snorkeling in cold water is uncommon, although cold-water lakes and oceans offer some breathtaking scenery. As a result, you risk being hypothermic if you don't take precautions when snorkeling in cold water.

You could get rather chilly even in warm water because we lose body heat 25 times faster in water than on land. Some symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, a weak and slow pulse, slow breathing, loss of coordination, anger, confusion, and sleepy behavior.

How Deep Can You Go in Water for Snorkeling?

Snorkeling offers the opportunity to explore and observe aquatic life up close. You can swim with the fish, look at the coral reef, and learn more about the marine ecosystem. However, more often than ever, you'll find yourself feeling tempted to go deep into the water, especially if you spot an unusual fish or an object that's too deep.

The maximum depth to which a snorkel can be used is between 1.5 and 2 feet, which explains why the majority of snorkels are between 12 and 15 inches in length. Snorkels aren't designed to be used as deep diving breathing equipment, and a breath of fresh air is the most important thing you can have. This is likely owing to the likelihood that a long tube will become clogged by water pressure or crack on underwater obstacles.

Some snorkelers may feel tempted to dive deep and hold their breath for a longer period of time. However, by holding your breath and shallow diving, you can do some underwater exploration.

Breathing underwater is not possible with snorkel tubes. They are designed to stick out of the water, keeping your head submerged. You can only easily go down to a depth of about 1 1/2 to 2 feet when wearing snorkel gear. Increasing the breathing tube's length merely creates more problems.

The snorkel and tube system begins to experience carbon dioxide buildup when snorkeling at depths greater than 1.5 feet. This could result in asphyxiation because there is less oxygen entering your body relative to the CO2 you are exhaling. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you hold your breath for as long as you can if you want to go a little deeper into the water.


Derek Fallon

Derek Fallon

Hi! I'm a marine biologist who has had the privilege of surfing, snorkeling,and diving all over the world. There's nothing better than catching a good wave, except for helping others become confident in their abilities. I love sharing my insights with those who want to learn. When I'm not giving surfing lessons I'm usually working on building my own small sailboat.

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