Octopus's Garden in the shade:Snorkeling Guide

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

Submerged in water, you float slowly - sounds and sights distorted, senses dulled by the extra weight. Not just a cliché, it’s really another world down there, best explored with minimal kit: a mask and snorkel. Underwater creatures dart by in a perplexing rainbow of colours you don’t see on land animals, and the landscape is more like another planet than dry earth.

I love snorkeling. It’s calm and peaceful in the underwater snorkeling world. I like the way the sun plays patterns on the tide streaked seafloor and I like the exotic look and feel of coral. I like considering what fish must think of me when they see me snorkeling by(probably not that much, by all reports they’re none too bright, but I imagine them being baffled in a jovial sort of way.) and I like they way your body hovers and that you can be still and watchful, slightly unwieldy, like any animal out of its normal habitat. Obviously the best snorkeling experiences are in with the most colourful and exotic fish and warmest water, but with a bit of patience and the right temperature I can stare through my skorkel mask at less colourful fish and an absence of coral for equally as long as I can flashy reds and oranges offset by tropical blue seas.

Snorkeling is easily the best value experience you can have in the water. Snorkeling is also easy full stop, needing minimal training or preparation, just snorkeling gear. To get the most out of your trip find out what animals or corals you can expect to see where you’re headed, this doesn’t take long but it means you’ll be able to tell a better story than if you come back after your day underwater claiming you saw a “tiny pink four eyed Chinese dragon with wings”. You’ll also know if you spot something rare, but again, any creature you get to have a proper look at under these conditions takes fascinating to a whole new level.

All resorts and hotels near coral - where snorkeling is at its best, given the variety of fish attracted by the coral - will have dive or snorkeling boats. Some have coral right offshore - for example in the Sinai - while others will require you to jump in a boat to get to the best spots. It's a fantastic experience for kids, too - a bit of exotic adventure, opening up a whole new world for them, in a relatively safe environment - provided, of course, they are supervised, and they are strong swimmers.

Best Snorkeling Destinations

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