What’s not to like, the freedom of the float, the warmth of the sun on your back, the never ending beauty of the ocean and all of the wonders and dangers it has to offer.
I have been a free water snorkelling enthusiast for over three decades for both the fun and the sport of it.
I love to just don the simple gear required and explore areas with as much freedom as possible; I like to think of snorkelling as if I were flying underwater.
But my true passion is spearfishing and photography, the fact that you can buy and use affordable quality equipment and become one with your environment or should I say their environment is a surreal experience. You also find that it puts you on the same playing field as to not have an unfair advantage.
Having the right fitting mask, a comfortable snorkel and flippers are a must when it comes to venturing into the water, an ill-fitting mask is just horrible, I say this from experience, and it will detract from the beauty of the swim and the pleasures as you will be constantly purging water, this also leads to the dreaded fogging. As for the snorkel, there are a lot of different types and styles on the market but the key is to find one that you feel comfortable with or will still feel comfortable with after an hour of it in your mouth. Flippers are not a must but they do add to the appeal, speed in the water is a must especially if you are chasing or playing with your new aquatic neighbours.
There are two last pieces of kit that I would also highly recommend but are not essential, first is a interchangeable weight belt, this will allow you so float at different levels with ease and help you keep a stillness in the water, it also allows for less energy to be used and far less air to be expelled due to exhaustion and movement. And lastly is small but handy dive knife, not only will you look cool the safety aspects of a knife are endless. The chance of getting caught in a tangle such as kelp or even discarded fishing line is minimal but if it should happen and it has you will be thankful you have that cheap ten dollar knife strapped to your arm or calf.
I lived in Exmouth Western Australia for five years and had the opportunity to swim all year round not only in some for the most beautiful waters in the world but also with some of the most deadly creatures on the face of the planet.
The feeling you get when you are surrounded by a shoal of curious fish is a peaceful and blissful moment, watching as a leader turns and the entire collective follow suit with a shimmer of scales but to touch a sea snake is just amazing, I know what you are thinking but they are mostly harmless and very playful except in breading time. I have also had the great pleasure of swimming with dugongs or cows of the sea, black and white tipped reef sharks, small tiger sharks and once with a hammer head but not for long before he scared me just a little too much, turtles and a plethora of different species of fish but it is the playful and majestic manta rays that captured my heart and they will always be my favourite of the ocean clan.
For an activity that is not only healthy for you on so many levels like building lung capacity, stamina and a good mental health, it is a relatively inexpensive hobby to boot.
I urge and encourage everyone to have and keep a free dive kit packed and handy at all time ready to throw in the car or over your shoulder when travelling. A simple water resistant bag with a towel, sunscreen, a pair of swimmers and of course a quality mask, snorkel and flippers is a must, a weight belt and dive knife are optional but highly recommended, a cheap waterproof camera or phone cover wouldn’t go astray.
For such a small outlay all you need is good weather and water and you will have a lifetime of opportunities to explore and gather some the greatest memories you will ever have.