Drift Snorkeling Guide

Last Updated: December 14, 2023

As a passionate snorkeler, you may want to try something a bit different. Any variation to your regular snorkeling can be adventurous and exciting.

Drift snorkeling is a thrilling experience where you ride with the water current to see a variety of marine wildlife.

When snorkeling, you usually go from the shore or an anchored boat. You use the same point to either enter or exit from the waters; it is a regular pattern.

With drift snorkeling, you relax and flow with the current from one location to another.

Read on to learn more about drift snorkeling.

What is Drift Snorkeling?

drift snorkeling

In drift snorkeling, you flow with the current for a pleasant and relaxing experience. If you have ever wished to glide through the skies, the closest you can get to your dream is by drift snorkeling.

It is exciting since you can explore new areas, cover a large distance in a short time, and are able to see varieties of marine life. You do not stay in a particular area as with regular snorkeling.

Being on a drift snorkel is a bit scary since you have little control over your movements. You use your body as a surfboat to drift along the water’s surface.

How is Drift Snorkeling Different from Normal Snorkeling?

Normal snorkeling and drift snorkeling are both adventures that allow you to enjoy the beautiful sea life. You have to be a good swimmer with a passion for water sports to enjoy these two exploits. Regardless, the two activities are quite different.

They differ in the following ways.

1. Physical Exertion

Normal snorkeling requires you to swim and be physically active to get to the desired location. You are practically in control of your body movements and buoyancy.

In drift snorkeling, you relax and swim with the current on the water surface. You allow the tide to drift you along as you watch the marine life. You do not control your motions except when you have to swim away from a reef or exit from the waters.

2. Distance Covered

Regular snorkeling exposes you to a limited area where you can get to see or fail to see marine animals. You only swim at a particular location.

Drift snorkeling takes you to a new and uncharted path since you enter the waters from one area and exit at another point. Since you have minimal physical exertion and use the flow of water to move, you get to cover a larger distance in a shorter time.

3. Uniqueness and Exhilaration

When snorkeling you have to mark your entry point since it is your exit place. You and your buddies explore the same spot and in the same waters.

When drifting, you follow an unpredictable path, and at a fast pace. You can jump in the water from a Zodiac kind of motorized craft, unlike normal snorkeling where you swim from the beach or a still boat.

4. Planning and Coordination

When going for regular snorkel, you do not require to have detailed and coordinated plans.

Drift snorkeling requires the coordination of all group members and guides. You are also expected to stay as a team for safety reasons.

5. Cost

Drift snorkeling is more expensive since you need to have a boat to get into the waters, and also exit. You also need a crew of guides for coordination and safety purposes.

Is Drift Snorkeling More Dangerous – What are the Risks?

drift snorkeling risks

Yes, drift snorkeling is more dangerous than regular snorkeling. Some of the risks you may encounter include:

  • Rocks or Coral Injuries

As you drift with the current, a strong water current can push you to a cluster of rocks or patch of corals and get injured.

  • Clearing the Snorkel Often

Drift snorkeling takes place where the water tide is high, and therefore likely to have waves as well. When in such an environment, water can enter your breathing tube. You are forced to regularly clear the water out while you still have the gear on.

You can invest in a dry snorkel that has a top valve to avoid this challenge.

  • A Risk of Separation From Your Team

If you get distracted by the exciting aquatic life, the water current may separate you from your team. You may find yourself at a different location far away from the group.

Is Drift Snorkeling More Fun?

Yes, drift snorkeling is more fun than regular snorkeling. The exploit takes you to a new location via random routes where you get to see more marine animals than you normally would.

It is a thrill to flow with the water current and passively watch sea life as the water current is in charge of your motion and direction. You do not swim in the same area more than once. That’s in addition to diving from a boat instead of the shore.

Do I Need Special Training for Drift Snorkeling?

You do not need special training to be a drift snorkeler. However, some basic training is recommended for beginners.

All you have to be is an experienced swimmer, and in a position to climb up the ladder of a boat. The guides will brief you on the operation and instructions you need so that you make an informed choice of whether to proceed with the adventure or opt-out.

Do I Need Special Equipment?

No, you do not need special gear for drift snorkeling. Your regular snorkel equipment will do just fine.

In addition, you can have a brightly colored snorkel vest for extra buoyancy and safety in case of an emergency.

Can I Drift Snorkel Anywhere?

You can drift snorkel in any ocean that has a natural current and is relatively shallow. Any sea that allows water to pass through, flood and drain with a sea tide cycle is an excellent place for drift snorkeling.

Just like with regular snorkeling you should only attempt to drift snorkel when the weather is conducive. Avoid it if the weather is extreme or there is poor visibility, strong currents, or high waves.

What Kind of Things Can You See on a Drift Snorkel?

When drift snorkeling you enter an environment that is a host to many types of marine life. Many marine animals like to be near the water currents to catch food easily.

You can only view the animals from a distance as you ride on the fast waters. As you drift along, you are likely to see large animals such as sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, barracudas, and predatory fish.

It is rare to see small sea animals since they cannot withstand the strong currents.

Do I Need a Boat to Drift Snorkel?

snorkeling by the boat

You can drift snorkel from the shores or from a boat. Regardless, you will still need a boat to pick you up at the end of your adventure.

The guides also need a boat to drift alongside your team. The presence of the boat crew alleviates the concern of where and when to exit from the waters.

When you have a boat, you also do not worry about how to find your way back to the shores. You have the liberty to exit the waters at any point or when the reef drops off.

How is Drift Dive Different from a Drift Snorkel?

Drift diving and drift snorkeling are almost similar water-based activities.  However, the two adventures differ as highlighted below:

  • Training: You require training before you engage in drift diving. Drift snorkeling requires you to only have some swimming skills.
  • Water depth: Drift diving descends you deeper into the waters while with drift snorkeling you ride the current on the surface of the water.
  • Your position, breathing patterns, and buoyancy: In drift diving, you have to pay attention to your respiratory patterns, vertical position, and the effects different water depths have on your buoyancy. When drift snorkeling you only need the ability to swim against strong currents when need be. You do not need to be keen on your respiratory condition since you can breathe directly from the air as you float on the surface of the water.

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