What to Wear When Snorkeling

Last Updated: April 28, 2023

There is a lot to consider when heading out for a snorkeling adventure. One concern is what to wear as you snorkel.

What you wear significantly determines your safety and comfort, hence the reason to think through it before heading out for an expedition.

So, what should you wear when snorkeling? At the very least you’ll need a wetsuit and rash guard, although you could throw in a bandana or swim cap for added comfort.

Remember snorkeling makes you vulnerable to unpredictable weather patterns, and marine wildlife reactions. As such, it is always important to go the extra mile when choosing your swimming gear.

Below is important information to know about snorkel wear.

Snorkeling Dress Code (What to Bring)

what to wear for snorkeling

What you wear should be able to keep you safe, enhance your comfort and improve your experience.

Snorkeling exposes your skin to hours of direct sunlight and harsh water conditions. It is important, therefore, to have protective clothing against the UV rays and seawater hazards.

It is especially important to wear a sunscreen that is reef-safe when snorkeling in tropical areas where the UV rays are particularly strong. In such conditions, it is advisable to wear clothing that has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPV) of above 50.

When properly geared you’re at ease to enjoy the beautiful environment with no qualms.

Below are the clothing items you need for snorkeling.

1. Wetsuit

A wetsuit will keep you warm when in cool or cold waters. It will also prevent sunburns or jelly stings, and also improve your buoyancy.

It is recommended you do research on the weather conditions of your snorkel destination so you can get the right wetsuit for it.

You will not need a wetsuit if you are heading to a tropical location. If it’s a place where the weather temperature ranges are below 72, you should have a wetsuit.

When snorkeling in cool waters, gear up in short sleeves and knee-length wetsuit for your comfort.

2. Rash Guard

Always wear a rash guard to protect yourself against sunburn, seawater irritation, or accidental stings from jellyfish.

This gear can also keep you warm when snorkeling in cool waters.

You can get a rash guard that has either short or long sleeves. The wear is also available in diverse thickness levels, and a variety of styles.

Choose a brightly colored rash guard if you would like to enhance your visibility to other swimmers when in the ocean.

3. Swimsuit

You can snorkel in any type of swimsuit that is of your preference.

Men usually snorkel in form-fitting boardshorts with secure drawstrings, while women like body-hugging swimwear.

Some women prefer to put on a one-piece swimwear for more coverage, and others like secure bottoms paired with sportswear kind of tops.

4. Bandana or Swim Cap

Have a bandana or a swim cap to protect your head from sunburn if you have thin or no hair. The headwear will also keep the hair out of the snorkel or mask strap whenever you put on or remove the gear.

5. Waterproof Pouch

Get a waterproof pouch to keep your valuables with you when you get into the ocean. It will relieve your concern if you are unsure about leaving behind your personal items.

It is better if the pouch has an adjustable strap to tie up around your waist.

The Best Colors to Wear for Snorkeling

There is no particular color that is best or worse for snorkeling. The colors you choose to wear should be based on your preference.

Some people prefer bright colors for safety reasons, while others prefer dark colors to blend in with the environment.

It is also important to choose your colors carefully since what you wear can either attract or repel marine animals.

Your safety is crucial as well. The color contrast with your environment can either keep you safe or make you a target of some predators, such as sharks. Avoid clothes with mixed, contrasting patterns.

If you would like to snorkel close to the marine life, gear up in navy, dark blue, or black colors. The dull colors blend with the environment and also minimize attention from the animals.

Dark colors can also keep you warmer due to good heat absorption. This can prove important when swimming in colder-than-usual conditions.

What Should You Not Wear While Snorkeling?

what should you not wear while snorkeling

Your comfort and safety are essential considerations when snorkeling. Dress in clothing that is comfortable, and conducive to your adventure.

Some of the clothing options you should avoid include:

  • Loose, Flimsy, or Slipping Swimwear

Do not wear a slipping-out swimsuit, flimsy bottoms, or loose board shorts that cannot hold your essentials in place. It may be embarrassing to frog jump in front of your buddies while in such swimwear.

  • Bikini Swimsuit

Women should avoid bikini swimsuits as the straps can get entangled with other obstacles or clothing. Complex bikini straps can also cause bad tan lines.

A swim wear with a skirt is also not good since the loose fabric can float up and block your view.

  • Too Bright Colored Wear

Avoid clothing that sharply contrasts with your skin tone or the environment when in areas popular with sharks.

Also do not wear any items with mixed and contrasting color patterns such as black and white. Avoid any wear of red, orange, yellow, white, or such bright colors.

Otherwise, you might appear as bait to the sharks. There is a reason behind the snorkelers’ yum-yum name for the yellow color.

What Colors Not to Wear for Snorkeling

There are no particular colors that you should not wear when snorkeling. Go for what makes you feel safe, and comfortable while in the ocean.

When you are brightly attired, you are visible to your team unlike when in dark colors. Your visibility is especially important when snorkeling in tumultuous waters or in places where there is a lot of boat traffic.

What is the Safest Color to Wear in the Ocean?

It is generally advisable to wear a color that enhances your visibility while in the ocean.

Your visibility is important in case of an emergency; you can easily attract attention if you need rescue. Your buddies can also see you in case of an accidental drift from the group.

When snorkeling in crowded locations, it is also easy to keep track of your team if you wear uniform and distinct colors.

However, it is advisable to not wear contrasting, bright, or distinct colors in locations where sharks are common.

Though sharks are color blind, they have an excellent visual ability for color contrasts. They can pick out anything that is brighter than the dull environment.

Do You Have to Wear a Life Jacket When Snorkeling?

Before heading out for your expedition it’s imperative to first think of your safety.

Snorkeling puts you in the mercies of mother nature when in the expanse waters. Calm waters can get nasty and put you at a risk of drowning.

Most snorkeling destinations recommend you wear a life jacket. Though the requirement may not be enforced, it is important nonetheless.

Your safety, and of those in your team should be a priority. Ensure minors and inexperienced snorkelers are in life jackets.

A life jacket may make the difference between life, and death in case of an emergency when in the ocean.

Can You Wear Jewelry While Snorkeling?

It is not safe to wear jewelry when in the ocean. The light reflection from the items can attract the attention of predatory fish, such as barracuda.

The shiny reflection may shimmer like fish scales. You, therefore, risk an attack if predators confuse the jewelry for food.

You also risk losing your precious item in the water.

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