Gear for Snorkeling on the Big Island, Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii has some of the best snorkeling spots of anywhere in the state of Hawaii but to experience it well you’re going to want to have the right snorkel gear. Unless you take a Kona snorkel tour with Kona Snorkel Trips which provides such gear free with booking. If you plan to go out exploring on your own you’re going to need to get your own snorkel gear. Here’s a list of the essentials and some extras to make your snorkeling experience comfortable and fun! If you do wish to rent or buy some gear for snorkeling on the Big Island swing by our shop at Kona Honu Divers to get this set up for you.
Hawaii Snorkeling Gear Essentials
All you really need to snorkel is a mask! The mask allows you to see underwater and should come with a built in nosepiece to cover your nose. This keeps water from entering our nose and also allows you to equalize should you dive under the surface to explore the reefs and all of the critters surrounding them. One of the most important things to consider when renting or buying a mask is the fit. If you visit a shop they should be able to fit your face well and have lots of options for you. Another thing to consider is your eyesight. If you wear glasses to see far away you will likely want a mask with corrective lenses built in. Often these masks will come in -1.0 through -8.0 in .5 increments. If your eyes differ you may need to get your own mask with the correct lens on either side. Swing by our shop at Kona Honu Divers to get this set up for you.
A snorkel is probably the second most important piece of snorkeling gear after the mask because once you wear the mask to see you will want to keep looking at all of the beautiful underwater things! A snorkel allows you to breathe while your face is in the water meaning you won’t have to raise your head for a breath. This can give you anywhere from 25% – 75% more time seeing things underwater. While a snorkel is not a critical part of seeing things it’s what differentiates snorkeling from swimming. So make the most of your snorkeling with a snorkel.
Snorkeling Gear Accessories
- Snorkel Keeper
- Weight Belt
- Fish Guide
- Marker Buoy with Line
While none of these things are essential they can drastically improve your experience. For more capable snorkelers you will definitely want some of this gear as you may be breaking the law or just get into trouble without it!
When we swim most of our power comes from our arms. Fins give the power back to your legs. Our legs are strong and used to moving so why not get them working for you? There are different styles of fin but primarily for snorkeling you’re going to want something that extends well past your toes. The shorter the fins the less efficient they are. If you want maximum efficiency you’ll want very long freediving fins. If you want something easy to pack and kick get something much much shorter. For the goldilocks approach you can get snorkel fins that are right in the middle. not too long and not too short. Another factor to consider is stiffness.
A swimsuit allows you to slip through the water faster and move more efficiently. Swimsuits don’t have open pockets that scoop the water and slow you down. It will also dry much faster that most clothing because they are often made with synthetic fibers and the material is lighter and thinner than land clothing.
To avoid looking like this guy Get a sun shirt. Often if you spend a significant amount of time in the water the sunscreen you put on may not last and cannot block all of the suns rays. With a sun shirt you’re covered. No sunscreen required!
For the few places that will be exposed to the sun apply a bit of water resistant sunscreen. Anything you purchase here in Hawaii will be reef safe. Assuming you’re already wearing a sunshirt or rash guard put some on the backs of your hands, face below your mask skirt, ears, and back of your neck.
A wetsuit works like a sun guard and keeps you warm. It will also allow you to float on the surface more easily because the neoprene is a foam that floats. The thicker the neoprene the floatier and warmer the suit will be. It is common for people to use 1-2mm thick wetsuits in the summer and 3-5mm thick suits in the winter. Typically the less body fat or ‘bioprene’ you have and the less muscle the thicker the suit you will need. On our Kona Snorkel Tours we provide everyone with a 5mm neoprene top to keep them nice and toasty.
An extra snorkel keeper is a great backup because you never know when yours could break or get lost. The keeper is what attaches your snorkel to your mask. This is a great option for snorkelers that go out a lot.
If you are wearing a thick wetsuit and find it difficult to get down below the surface you should probably take a freediving course. In the course you will learn how to perform a flawless water entry and use a weight belt properly. Often people will use too much weight when just a few pounds will suffice. As a rule if you have to work to stay on the surface you are overweighted.
A dive watch will help you track time and can even track your coordinates so you know where to get in-out. It can also tell you your heart rate and how many dives you did as well as depth and time. Some of the new dive watches by Garmin can do so many things the diving features are only a small part of their capability.
There are over 700 species of fish to be found when snorkeling on the Big Island. 30% of them are found only here in Hawaii. This means there’s a lot to learn! Check out a fish guide like this one at Kona Honu Divers shop.
Here’s a YouTube playlist of some of the best places to snorkel on the Big Island
Marker Buoy with Line
Something Simple like this will allow you to swim without worrying about being run over. It will mark your position and give you something to hang your things off of. It’s also required by law and not having one can result in a fine by the local enforcement agency.
The Easy Button
That wraps up our guide covering gear for Snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii. If you don’t want to hassle with renting/buying gear and figuring out where to go snorkeling you can easily book a tour with Kona Snorkel Trips Hawaii’s top rated and most reviewed snorkel tour operator.