Can You Snorkel When It’s Windy?

Last Updated: February 24, 2023

We usually plan for a vacation with an air of excitement in anticipation of a time of great adventure. It is exuberating to leave the rat race behind, even if it’s for a couple of days, to indulge in a favorite pastime such as snorkeling. You envisage as you prepare for the vacation, to have conducive weather.

The vacation plans are pegged on the hopes of warm, sunny, and perfect temperatures. That, in addition to calm and peaceful waters, are the ultimate combination for a fulfilling snorkeling quest.

But what if instead of a refreshing cool breeze, you encounter strong and rough winds?

As a snorkeler, you are aware rough waters are likely to hamper your aquatic experience. At this point you might wonder, “Can you snorkel when it is windy?”  The short answer is yes, you can snorkel on a windy day depending on your experience and the wind condition.

snorkeling when its windy

Read on to learn how to snorkel when it is windy.

Does Wind Affect Water Visibility When Snorkeling?

Yes, wind can hamper visibility especially if it is strong enough to stir up particles and sand grains inside the water. That said, offshore winds may not cause as much effect on visibility. A wind that blows from the sea to the beach doesn’t typically carry a lot of debris – for obvious reasons.

Rough on-shore winds, however, are the real problem. The waves stir up sand and other particles from the shallow edges drawing them into the deep waters. This can make it difficult to see in the resulting milky and dirty waves.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Snorkel?

Generally, it is best to snorkel in the morning. The waters are usually calmer, and the winds relatively smooth at this time.

It is worth noting, however, there is never a perfect time or day when there is no wind on the seas. What matters most is your experience, the direction, and speed of the wind.

What are the Best Conditions for Snorkeling?

Not every weather condition is conducive for snorkeling. At times mother nature is just uncooperative and against your ideas. If the conditions are extremely rough, do not tempt fate. Snorkeling in heavy rain or extreme weather can be dangerous, it may cause harm or worse.

The best weather condition to snorkel is on a sunny and warm day. It is even better when the winds are smooth and calm creating small waves. The warmth makes the water comfortable, while the sun improves the visibility under the water’s surface.

Is Snorkeling in Windy Conditions More Difficult and Dangerous?

It is difficult and sometimes dangerous to snorkel in windy conditions. When it is windy, the waves may get to several feet high, and prove dangerous.

You may be vulnerable especially if the waters happen to toss you around mercilessly. In such circumstances, you could easily be thrown to the rocks or corals.

Tips for Snorkeling When It’s Windy

And now onto some tips to make you a better snorkeler.

Use a Semi-dry or Dry Snorkel

A semi-dry or dry snorkel usually has a splash guard which keeps out most of the water. A dry snorkel automatically seals the tube’s opening with the float valve in case it submerges into water.

Swim Against the Tide

When you start off to snorkel you have the energy to swim against the tide. Since the current is likely to get worse as the wind continues to blow by, the tide will help you on your way back. Remember you will probably be less energetic at that time.

Breathe Deeply and Slowly

When snorkeling, it is always good to breathe slowly and deeply. It is pertinent to do so when it is windy. Breathing carefully will clear the snorkel and also decrease the chances of choking in case of water entry into the tube. 

Monitor the Weather Changes

Be aware and cautious about the weather changes. When underwater, you may not notice much as when afloat. It is prudent you pay attention to any changes on the water surface.

Face Downwind Direction First

With face downwind first, you will have the wind on your back and are unlikely to experience water sprays in case you have a wet type of snorkel. Avoid swimming with your head looking ahead as it increases the risk of water and debris finding their way into your j-tube.

Be Close to the Exit Point

If the wind is strong and rough, be near the exit point. When you are in close proximity to the beach, you can easily leave the waters if you get uncomfortable. It’s easy to be tempted to venture further off the shore but unless you’re a really good swimmer, don’t do it.

What Wind Speed is Bad for Snorkeling?

Wind velocity is measured in knots, not in mph. In case you confuse this technical fact. Bad or good wind speed depends on your experience as a snorkeler.

Waves that are 2-3ft high on the A 5 Beaufort scale can be difficult for a beginner but fairly comfortable for an expert. Generally, wind speed that is 17-21 knots, with waves of 6-10 feet high is the maximum limit for snorkeling.

What Wind Direction is Best for Snorkeling?

According to most experts, it is ideal to snorkel when there are westerly winds, warm waters, and a low tide. Also, winds that blow off-shore tend to be a lot easier to deal with than on-shore ones.

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