Our morning and afternoon snorkel tours pick the best areas in Kealakekua Bay to snorkel off the boat.
If your planning to join us with your little ones, Snorkel Planet has some good tips on snorkeling with kids.
Step 1: Getting Used To The Mask
I remember when my daughter was playing with my snorkel mask on her very first holiday. She was 2 years old. At one of the beach shops I bought her her own, not to use it in the water, but because on holiday kids like to get presents. She understood it was hers, and she could play with it whenever she wanted. Just make sure there are no parts that can be detached, and don’t have them put anything into their mouth.
Step 2: Start Practicing In The Bathtub
Back home we added it to her toys that she plays with in the bathtub. We showed her how to put it on, and whenever she let us we’d put it on her head as well. It didn’t take long until she was able to do that by herself. First attempts to look underwater followed quite naturally. When she was 3 we attached a snorkel to the mask. Joining her in the bath, showing her over and over again, without forcing anything, it all went like ABC. Still, she didn’t dare to breath through the snorkel for more than a few seconds.
Step 3: Let Them Practice In a Swimming Pool
The next step was to practice in a swimming pool. We did so on our next holiday in Spain. We put on her float sleeves and let her decide when to dip her head into the water. Make sure to leave that decision up to your kid. From our experience we can say that if there’s an interest for snorkeling, things will work out just fine. Especially since kids like to copy whatever mom and dad are up to. So if you do it first, there’s a good chance they’ll follow.
Step 4: Make Them Curious
Once your child is used to float in a pool, and once they dare to take a look underwater, it’s time to get used to breathe through the snorkel a little longer. Some kids will learn fast, whilst other could find it scary, especially since breathing through your mouth underwater is not a natural thing to do.
What we did is this: Whilst my wife and daughter were floating in the pool together, I grabbed her plastic toy fish and showed her how it was swimming as well. I put on my snorkel mask and started to do the same underwater, all the way to the bottom of the pool. And yes, it didn’t take too long before she got curious about her swimming toy fish. Where did it go? Where is daddy? Let’s check underwater! Getting used to breathe through a snorkel can take time, just make sure to let them practice at their own pace.
Step 5: Getting Used To The Ocean
Most kids have already experienced the ocean and it’s waves in a playful way, like holding on to one of their parents whilst they walk into the water. By using float sleeves, if they want to, they can experience the feeling of how the ocean moves by themselves as well. We practiced this in a previous holiday already, so at the age of 3 (3,5 years to be accurate), it was time to put on our snorkel gear.
Step 6: First Time Snorkeling In The Ocean
Now that your kid already has some snorkel practice, and there’s no anxiety for the ocean, let’s see what happens. Make sure to try this when the water is calm, preferably not too cold, and when visibility is good. For kids, a first experience is of big importance. So make sure it’s a good one. Hold their hand, make sure they’re safe and relaxed, and let them just play around. Hold them in an upright (vertical) position as if they’re standing. This gives confidence.
Step 7: Try Swimming
Moving from a vertical position to a horizontal swimming position can be a learning curve, however, most kids will find their way automatically. They’ll just copy whatever you’re doing. Make sure to hold them by the hand or support them below their belly. Swimming can be tiring so make sure to carry them for a short break regularly. In our case, our daughter couldn’t wait to “flipper” her feet and try to spot some fish.
Step 8: Changing To A Snorkel Vest
All the details about snorkel gear for kids are listed further down below. However, from our own experience, we have learned that switching from the floating sleeves to a snorkel vest was a good choice at the age of 4. We see many parents making this switch earlyer, and I guess there’s no real timing. Our daughter had no problems with the sleeves and we thought, as long as she doesn’t complain, let’s just let her enjoy. As soon as swimming lessons started, it was obvious that a vest was the next step to take.
Step 9: Teach Them The Basic Rules
One of the most important things any child should understand, is that he or she is not the only one trying to take a glimpse at the marine life. Kids can sometimes move their feet aggressively, which helps them to move in a certain direction. However, make them aware of other snorkelers. Bare feet, shoes or fins can hurt other people that happen to snorkel nearby.
Besides that, we told our daughter to quit whenever there’s water leaking into her mask, whenever there’s water entering through the snorkel, or whenever she’s feeling tired. Remember, snorkeling is a learning curve, even for adults.