When it comes to snorkeling, fins are a "must-have" part of your gear!

Maui Snorkeling Safety – Wear Those Fins!

Fins may not be the first thing you think of when considering snorkeling equipment, but they're an extremely important part of your gear. At times we'll see people snorkeling in Maui without them, but we don't recommend it. Wearing fins make snorkeling easier and safer than going without. If your snorkeling plans include more than a quick underwater peek, fins are most definitely the way to go. Their efficiency to propel you forward lets you enjoy the wonders of the ocean instead exerting yourself getting from point A to point B. Fins also offer a great safety advantage if ocean conditions or circumstances change unexpectedly. Fins enable you to propel yourself through a strong current or return quickly to shore—a significant benefit when you need it.  Not to mention, fins are just fun! The more you snorkel and learn how your fins can help you maneuver, the sooner you'll understand how turtles and fish can be incredibly fast and amazingly gracefully all at the same time.

We recommend adjustable strap fins. They’re simple, straightforward, and get the job done. Some people use scuba fins that fit over reef shoes or booties, but they can be heavy and cumbersome. While we've used high-end diving fins, we prefer low-priced kit fins when it comes to snorkeling. They give plenty of thrust per kick and don’t weigh a ton on a hike to the beach. The additional length of scuba fins can also make them harder to maneuver—particularly in shallow areas, where you don't want to bump or kick the coral with your fins.

Putting on Your Fins:

Occasionally we'll see inexperienced snorkelers don their fins while still on the beach. Attempting to walk in fins while you're on land is highly awkward. To compensate, many try walking backwards. But shuffling backwards toward the ocean is a risk. With your back toward the water, there's a much greater chance of being pummeled by a wave, tripping over rocks, or stepping on a sea creature. We highly encourage putting on your fins while in the water. Just hang on to them in one hand till you're out past the breakers and slip them onto your feet. It's easy to do and a bit more elegant than duck waddling backwards! If the thought of putting on your fins in the water makes you nervous, consider using a flotation device. Here's why: Snorkeling - Using a Flotation Device

For more snorkeling safety tips or questions about Maui, pick up a copy of Mask, Fins & Snorkel:  The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.  We'd love to hear from you!

Polo Beach, Maui

Maui Snorkeling Safety – Rip Currents

Anytime you enter the ocean there are hazards. Knowing what they are and how to manage them can reduce your risk. Be smart, play it safe, and use good judgment. Also recognize the single biggest danger while swimming or snorkeling in Maui is drowning.

Rip Currents:  Rip currents are the number one danger at the beach, but they don’t have to be. If you understand their nature and what to do if you get caught in one, you can manage the situation and return to shore or await rescue.

Surviving Rip Currents in Maui

A rip current is a powerful channel of water that flows swiftly from the beach out toward sea. They usually develop along low spots of the shoreline. Instead of a wave simply receding like it does on a flat or protected beach, water naturally flows toward this low point. As water accumulates it gains speed and force and upon reaching the low spot it funnels into a channel as it flows back out to sea. Fortunately, rip currents tend to be fairly narrow and dissipate as they move away from shore. If you're ever caught in a rip current remember:

Don't Panic and Don't Fight It!

Recognize a rip for what it is and “go with the flow” and/or swim par­allel along the beach to get yourself out of the current. Remember as a rip current moves away from the beach it will dissipate and you can escape it. Most rips usually diminish within a few hundred feet. The flow of a rip can be powerful and trying to swim against it can lead to panic and exhaustion. Instead, save your energy, keep your wits about you, and know that your fins provide a major safety advantage. If you stay calm and think logically you will have no problem return­ing to shore.

For more safety tips and a guide to all the best snorkel spots on Maui, pick up a copy of Mask, Fins, & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.

Wearing a life jacket is a smart practice when you're kayaking in Maui, Hawaii.

Maui Snorkeling Safety – Use a Flotation Device

Anytime you enter the ocean there are hazards. Be smart, play it safe, and use good judgment. Also recognize the single biggest danger while snorkeling in Maui is drowning. While not as sensational as a shark encounter, drownings in Maui are not rare and claim many more lives. So before you enter the water, be honest with yourself about your abilities. If you're planning to snorkel in Maui and your swimming skills aren’t the best, you should always use a flotation device. Your enjoyment and safety will increase dramatically. Even with snorkel gear, it’s easy for an inexperienced swimmer to give-in to irrational fears and begin having difficulty in the water, particularly if ocean conditions change or fatigue sets in. Using a flotation device will give you extra buoyancy, help keep you safe, and put those fears to rest. It can also provide better maneuverability in tight or shallow spots—an added benefit to the coral.

A variety of flotation devices are available for snorkelers in Maui, ranging from foam noodles, to snorkel belts and traditional life vests. For some, a foam noodle held under the arms and across the chest can often be enough to put a person at ease. A life vest can be even better since it requires little thought or hassle once you've put it on. You don't have to hang onto it or keep track of it, and it can't get pulled away or lost should ocean conditions change. For inexperienced swimmers, having just one "scary moment" in the water can change a positive attitude about snorkeling to a negative one. So be sure to plan ahead and bring along a flotation device for those in your group who need a little extra swimming assistance.

For more safety and snorkeling tips in Maui, check back often and pick up a copy of Mask Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.  Happy Snorkeling!

Snorkel Hazards in Maui, Hawaii.

Maui Snorkeling Safety – Breaking Waves

Breaking waves are beautiful to look at, but unless you’re on a boogie board trying to catch one, it’s best to steer clear of the break zone while snorkeling in Maui. Even small waves can pack a punch and it's important to move through the break zone quickly when entering or exiting the water. Pay attention to what’s going on and don’t dawdle. A breaking wave can level you in an instant and tends to take the fun out of the day.

A good habit to develop before entering or exiting the water is to spend a few minutes watching the waves. Take note of where the waves are breaking, their size, and timing. Use this knowledge to pick a place to enter and time your movement through the breaking waves. If you happen to arrive at a spot with heavy surf, skip the idea of snorkeling altogether. It’s not only dangerous, but rough surf makes for lousy snorkeling. It kicks up sand and creates cloudy water. Your best advice is try another spot.

For a guide to all the best snorkel spots on Maui, pick up a copy of Mask, Fins, & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.

Maui's Premier Snorkeling Guidebook

Snorkeling Guide Book for Maui - Front Cover of Mask, Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling

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