How Long Can You Stay Underwater With a Snorkel?

Last Updated: March 15, 2023

Snorkeling gives you a front-row seat to the marine flora and fauna. And since this is an exciting activity, it is tempting to go overboard with your exploration. It’s easy to end up spending longer than necessary underwater glued to the wonders of the undersea world.

So, how long can you stay underwater with a snorkel? The short answer is as long as you can hold your breath.

For most humans that is roughly between 1 minute to 2 minutes. As long as the snorkel itself is submerged you will not be able to inhale fresh air and that explains why you shouldn’t take too long in this state. You need to swim to the surface ever so often to grab some fresh air before going underwater again.

Can You Breathe Underwater With a Snorkel?

how long to stay underwater with snorkel

No, you can exhale underwater with a snorkel, but not breathe fully.

When the snorkeler is fully submerged, the tube cannot draw air from the surface. You have to hold your breath and exhale slowly.

Can You Go Fully Underwater with a Snorkel?

Yes, you can go underwater with a snorkel. The tube, will, however, not be able to pull air from the surface. You have to regulate your breathing to have a longer snorkeling time.

Factors Affecting Time You Can Snorkel Underwater

So, what are some of the factors that determine how long you can remain under water while snorkeling? Well, as it turns out, these range from ones you can control to ones that are completely beyond your control.


Water temperature determines your respiratory patterns.

When the temperatures are low, the body works harder to keep you warm. The heart works harder to increase blood pressure, a process that uses more oxygen. You only snorkel for a short time when the water is cold.

If the water is warm, the temperature regulation system relaxes. The conducive temperatures will extend your snorkeling time.

Snorkeling Technique

Your snorkeling techniques can either prolong or shorten your underwater exploit.

Fluid and symmetrical motions consume less oxygen, hence extending your snorkeling time. On the other hand, energetic movements over-exert your body and use more oxygen. It reduces your time in the water.

Your snorkeling position also determines how much oxygen you use. You can enjoy the aquatic scenes for a longer time if you are still, relaxed, and in a calm posture.

Lung Capacity

Lung capacity is the volume of air your lungs can hold in each respiratory cycle. A healthy adult has a lung capacity of about six liters.

Age, health, and physical size are some of the factors that determine your lung capacity.

Lungs mature at the age of about 20 to 25 years. You cannot have a maximum lung capacity if you are below or above that age range.

Physical Fitness

Regular cardiovascular exercises increase the amount of oxygen your body uses.

The physical workouts also improve your cardiovascular fitness. They improve your body’s endurance and strengthen your heart and lungs.

When you are physically fit, your entire body has optimal blood circulation. The fitness increases your ability to hold your breath when snorkeling, thus extending your stay.


If you are a regular snorkeler, you definitely have a better ability to hold your breath when under water compared to a novice.

Regular expeditions train you how to regulate your breathing patterns. You are also calmer, relaxed, and able to regulate your heart rate when you get into the waters.

Indeed, practice makes perfect since your knowledge enables you to extend your water stays.

How to Maximize Your Time Underwater

snorkel underwater for longer

It is every snorkeler’s desire to spend as much time as possible exploring the underwater. After all, that’s the goal of the adventure.

Below are several ways to increase your snorkeling time.

1. Practice Deep Breathing

Normal inhalation does not fill the lungs. You take in just enough oxygen your body needs.

As a snorkeler, practice deep breathing to improve your respiratory patterns. Your body will adjust to having full lungs.

Use the steps below to inhale and exhale better:

  • Take a deep breath, and hold it for the longest time possible
  • Breathe out slowly

Practice the pattern often. It will improve your ability to hold your breath when you dive.

2. Be Physically Fit

The basic way to increase your snorkeling time is to be physically fit. The ability of your muscles and respiratory system depends on your fitness. When you have healthy lungs and are physically strong, you can stay in the water for a longer time.

3. Increase Your Lung Capacity

You can practice several breathing exercises to increase your lung capacity. One practice you could do is to:

  • Hold your breath longer than you normally do. If you regularly breathe after every 1 minute, increase the period by 5 seconds. Do this several times until 1 minute and 5 seconds becomes your normal pattern.
  • Repeat the practice again but extend it by 5 seconds. Repeat the practice until 1 minute 10 seconds is your breathing cycle.

The practice will increase your lung capacity, and eventually, you will snorkel for a slightly longer time.

4. Snorkel Regularly

Experience is the best teacher while practice makes perfect. When you are a regular snorkeler, your ability to stay in the water increases.

Regular snorkeling will improve your techniques, ability to hold your breath, and you will also know how to lower your heart rate. Overall, you will have a longer time in the water.

5. Have a Pre-Snorkeling Routine

The temptation to jump into the water right after gearing up is very high. Though it may be exciting, it is not as good for snorkelers.

It is essential you prepare your body physically and mentally. You are likely to extend your snorkeling time if you are prepared.

First relax, slow your heart rate, and cool down from any excitement. You can use deep breathing techniques. Then dip your toes in the water to test the temperature. This will adjust your body to the water temperature.

Finally, get into the water slowly, breathe deeply, then dive.

How Do Snorkelers Stay Underwater for so Long?

Snorkelers are able to stay long under the water if they are physically fit, have an optimal lung capacity, and snorkel regularly. In addition to experience, such snorkelers use smooth and calm diving techniques and postures, and also practice deep breathing.

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