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Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

Brooklyn, New York
7 posts
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Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

I'm not a swimmer--can float and maybe go short distances but can't tread water--so is snorkeling out of the question for me? My son is 6 and is learning how to swim, so my husband will probably stay with him at all times while exploring Hanauma Bay. Is there a good tour company out there who can work with beginning swimmers like me? Are there beaches where I can just stick my head in the water without having to swim far to see fish and turtles?

Advice is much appreciated!

Saint Cloud...
Destination Expert
for Oahu
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26,380 posts
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1. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

"Are there beaches where I can just stick my head in the water without having to swim far to see fish and turtles?" You can do that at Hanauma Bay. You can also do that at Pupukea/Shark's Cove.

Hanauma Bay is kind of divided into sections (or areas) depending on your skills.

I've seen a good map where the show the sections, but can't find it now. If I find it, I'll include the link.

Your best bet is to ask the lifeguard where it is best for you to snorkel.

This is a link to some of the areas. It's not the one I'm thinking of but is will give you an idea. The three areas closest to the beach are good for beginners:

aloha-hawaii.com/oahu/beaches/hanauma-bay/

Portland, Oregon
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128 posts
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2. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

Find a flotations device you will feel comfortable with. If you snorkel in the Carribean the outfits always make you wear a life preserver. If you did a snorkel tour they should have something for you to wear or hold on to. Getting comfortable sticking your face in the water takes some getting used to so you might want to try out a snorkel and mask in a pool first.

Vancouver Island...
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3. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

I bring an inflatable pool noodle with me when I travel. It packs up so small and easily keeps a full size adult afloat. I tuck it under my arms or hold it out in front with my arms straight. I can kick with the flippers and cruise along for hours.

Snorkeling is great fun but can be tiring so I find having the pool noodle makes it really relaxing.

Edited: 30 April 2013, 04:19
pzp
Kauai, Hawaii
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for Kauai, Kapaa
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4. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

I wouldn't put a beginner on a pool noodle. Better to wear a snorkel/dive vest.

Australia
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5. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

I agree pzp. You can get carried out (by an undertow/rip or just the swell) or be dunked by waves with a noodle. Not something I would want if I could not swim. noodles and swim vests also give a false sense of security.

I am a big advocate of if you cannot swim not to enter any uncontrolled body of water where you could get in danger. The shallow end of a pool sure (though can still be dangerous) but the ocean, a river, a lake etc there are a million uncontrollables.

Not only can it be dangerous for the peson who cannot swim but it can also be potentially dangerous for anyone who tries to rescue them,

Island of Hawaii...
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for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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6. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

Hanauma Bay has perhaps the highest drowning stats in Hawaiʻi, probably because of the number of novice snorkelers and swimmers who go there. It has currents. It is also very busy, and itʻs easy to get kicked there by other snorkelersʻ fins.

I think you need to be watched as well as your son, which stretches your husband thin. Maybe one of you at a time, and both of you wearing vests and with husband at all times.

I found the whole Hanauma Bay experience way too busy to enjoy.

South Coast NSW
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7. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

How long until your trip?

Can you take some swimming lessons in between now and arriving in Hawaii?

That is what I would do, if I was not a confident swimmer. :)

Kapaa, Hawaii
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for Maui, Hana, Oahu
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8. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

I'm not a swimmer but am an avid snorkeler. Never took a swimming lesson in my life. That said, I do know how to float (which is essential for snorkeling) and tread water. It's your not knowing how to tread water that concerns me. You will have to put your feet down anytime you want to take a break and that is not a good thing!! You don't want to stand on anything except sand. If you end up floating over something that is not sand and you need to break, you will have a problem. Hanauma Bay is perhaps the best place for you, I would stay away from Shark's Cove.

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

Invest in a snorkel vest. I have a couple friends who wouldn't snorkel if it wasn't for the vest. They don't always snorkel with me when I go places too advanced for them, but they have a great time and I enjoy being with them.

There are places that are great for beginners to learn about feeling comfortable with a mask and vest. Try a local pool first. Learn your equipment ... it will give you more confidence. Like anything else the more you understand how your equipment works the better time you will have. (You should see me on my mountain bike....yikes)

Have a great time, remember reef etiqutte, bring a fish idenitfier with you so you and your son can talk about what you saw that day.

Brooklyn, New York
7 posts
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10. Re: Can't swim--is snorkeling still possible?

Thanks, everyone, for the helpful replies! The trip isn't til the summer, so I do have some time for lessons and learning how to (finally) tread water. I like the snorkel vest idea, maybe for my son too, so my husband doesn't have to be on alert all the time.