Prepping the Kids for the Trip
It’s important to teach the kids how to snorkel prior to your trip. Start by teaching the kiddos about the risks of snorkeling. Some kids are so fond of the water that they may end up going deeper than they should or stay in the water so long they end up chilled or sunburnt.
Another thing kids should learn is to never touch any sea creatures in open water. It’s only normal for children to be curious about the things around them so let them know that some marine creatures – such as sea urchins, jellyfish, moray eels and even the corals – can cause serious injuries. In the same manner, marine life may be disturbed or destroyed when people come into contact with them. To send the message across clearly, share videos or pictures of animals that they should not touch. You can encourage them by rewarding them for spotting some of the animals they learned about.
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Teach Kids the Basics of Snorkeling
Just like in swimming, knowing the proper way to breathe is essential for safe snorkeling. Practice makes perfect so start training in your local pool or bathtub to build their confidence in the water.
Let your kids know that they should never go snorkeling on their own and teach them the concept of the buddy system where one looks after the safety of the other. Both should watch for any sign of danger and that they should never leave each other’s side to explore on their own.
Once the kids know how to breathe with their mask and snorkel, practice treading water with them and show them how and when they should lift their head above water in order to catch their breath if necessary. They should also know how to remove water inside the snorkel in case water comes in.
Finally, teach your kids how to calmly and smoothly kick their legs without causing too much disturbance to the surface of the water. This will allow them to have a clear view of what’s underwater and will not scare away the sea creatures.
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Use a Floatation Device
If your children do not know how to swim or float on their own, get them a snorkeling vest, floatation belt, or a floating board. Aside from giving your kids a sense of security, this will slowly help them learn to swim and keep them from getting too tired. Be patient when teaching them and accept that they have their limitations. The more they practice, the better they will get at snorkeling.
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When you’re in open water, especially with the strong sun in Bali, it’s important to protect exposed skin. Rash guards or a wetsuit help protect the exposed skin from sunburn, abrasions, cuts, stings, etc.
Also, because kids are smaller, their body heat generally dissipates faster especially in cold water. Wetsuits and rashguards will help in keeping their body warm so they won’t get chilled.
Sun protection is important especially when you’re staying outdoors for an extended period, and when your kids snorkel it’s your responsibility to keep them protected. We recommend stocking up on waterproof or water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 50 and above. Apply plenty of sunblock at least 30 minutes before heading out into the water.
Make sure to keep reapplying the sunblock every two hours all over your child’s body. Finally, let your kids wear a shirt rather than sleeveless top for added protection.
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Understanding the Snorkeling Gear
It will take some time for kids to become familiar with snorkeling gear so we recommend teaching them the basics of putting on and using their snorkel, mask and fins ahead of your trip.
Teach the children how to wear the snorkeling mask properly and give them time to get accustomed to the feel of it. Then, show them the snorkel and teach them how to breathe using it. Allow the kids to play around with the equipment on their own until they become comfortable with it. Finally, let the kids wear their snorkel and mask on dry land before moving forward to a pool.
Photo credit: Snorkeling Vacation
Checking the Weather
It’s extremely important to check the surf conditions, the climate and the wind conditions a couple of days before the trip and also before you head into the water. Make sure the reefs you are planning to visit are safe enough for snorkeling even on a windy day. And even if the conditions are ideal for snorkeling, never leave your child to snorkel alone.
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First Aid Kit
If you’re out snorkeling with the kids, don’t leave home without a first aid kit. Apart from antiseptic solution, plasters and ointment, add a small pair of tweezers and hydrogen peroxide just in case they touch anything that could get in or under the skin.
Snorkeling is a fantastic learning experience for kids, so make sure they are as safe as possible and then let them enjoy discovering the magic of seeing into the underwater world!
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Read Best Places for Snorkeling in Bali for more great trip planning advice.