The essential aspects of snorkeling with a tube and mask, along with these simple rules and recommendations, should make your vacation on the island of Bali comfortable, safe, and enjoyable:
Snorkeling can actually become an incredibly exciting activity, and with minimal effort, basic preparation, and some understanding of the situation, what you see can amaze even seasoned divers. And when you compare the cost of diving to the almost free snorkeling, you can understand why it's worth paying special attention to this interesting activity.
6. Life jacket (if you're not confident in your swimming abilities)
7. Camera in a waterproof case
Safety: Swimming in the ocean presents a different level of risk compared to swimming in lakes. Many people are unaware of the sudden currents, tides, and sharp coral formations. Properly assessing your abilities, understanding the ocean conditions, and being familiar with local rules are essential for a safe snorkeling experience.
One crucial safety rule is to inform someone about your snorkeling plans, whether it's a lifeguard at the beach or your close friends and family. Make sure they are aware of your planned return time.
Find a qualified snorkeling partner who has similar equipment and swimming skills to accompany you. This helps enhance safety as you can watch out for each other.
Study the map of the area where you plan to snorkel using Google Maps. Satellite images can provide valuable information about wave directions, wave strength, and the locations of coral reefs, which may offer interesting underwater sights. Familiarizing yourself with the area will improve your orientation.
Always prioritize safety when snorkeling in the ocean, and following these guidelines will make your underwater adventures safer and more enjoyable.
Make sure all your equipment is assembled.
Start your preparation by informing a responsible person about your destination and your planned return in about 2 hours. This is a maximum duration for beginners. When your relatives, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances are aware that you are heading to the sea, it serves as a significant safety guarantee.
The first thing you should do is apply waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF (more than 30) to exposed areas like your legs, arms, and forehead. Apply the sunscreen before heading out in the sun and about 5-20 minutes before entering the water. Pay special attention to areas prone to sunburn, such as your wrists, calf muscles, and the knee joint creases. After applying sunscreen, head to the ocean and observe the sea. Watch the waves, fishermen, maritime activities, and try to identify possible currents and areas with lush coral growth.
Create a plan: Decide where you will snorkel, excluding areas with high surf, crowds of fishermen, and check for fishing nets. Ask a local lifeguard about the most beautiful reef and potential currents. Present your plan and listen to feedback, accepting any corrections. The success of snorkeling largely depends on choosing the right location, accounting for 90% of the experience.
When you've decided where to go, start preparing your equipment:
- Familiarize yourself with how your fins' fastening system works. Solving this issue in the water, even with a small shore surge, can be uncomfortable and lead to poor visibility, causing significant difficulties.
- To prevent your mask from fogging, apply a drop of baby shampoo inside it, rub it to fully degrease the glass surface. This is also a good hygiene practice if you're using a rental mask. Rinse the shampoo completely with the water you'll be swimming in, and don't touch the glass with your hands. Enter the water, leaving the rest of your equipment, including slippers and spare clothing, in an area inaccessible to tides and thieves. Ensure that your mask is clean, doesn't leak, and doesn't fog. Fins should fit comfortably without causing discomfort. You can check all of this in a pool or, so to speak, by wading waist-deep into the ocean for a test.
- If your underwater camera fogs up inside the waterproof case, a recommendation is not to take the box out of your hotel room but always keep it cold and under air conditioning. Before closing, ensure there are no hairs or sand on the seal. If you're satisfied with the camera settings, hold it in an open box under the flow of cold, dehumidified air from an air conditioner in your room or car. Afterward, don't open it until it's completely dry after rinsing, preferably in the same hotel room. Remember that batteries discharge faster in colder water, so charge them in a cool place.
- Before entering the water, take several landmarks on the shore. These can be beach umbrellas, flags, structures, trees, masts, and other easily visible objects. Don't rely on boats and cars as landmarks; they can move. Choose two objects as landmarks, evaluate the distance between them; this will help you assess your distance from them later.
- Enter the water, check your equipment, and wait for your partner. Ensure that both of you are ready and start moving together along a prearranged route. Maintain a distance between you of no more than 5-10 seconds of accelerated swimming. Don't leave your partner alone, don't compete in swimming. Swimming close to each other allows you to show each other any marine life and plants you discover and share your impressions, making snorkeling more enjoyable.
- Continuously monitor landmarks on the shore, your location relative to them, and observe your movement relative to the seabed to control the speed and direction of currents. Make decisions together. If one of you is tired, suggest returning.
- In case you find yourself in a current, don't rush to fight it. The key to success is a correct assessment of the situation. Stop, assess the strength and direction of the current, and try to swim in the direction you need with moderate effort. If you make little progress or are being carried away, don't waste energy fighting it. Start moving across the current. This doesn't require extra effort but should be calculated and controlled. According to your calculations, this movement should either take you out of the current or lead you to the shore. If an emergency situation arises, try not to rush, assess the situation, create an action plan, and start implementing it. Instill confidence and group cohesion in your partner; avoid wasting time and energy on arguments.
- If someone is injured by marine animals: Under normal circumstances, no marine animals attack humans because they don't fit into any food chain and don't look like prey. Try to avoid situations where you may appear aggressive towards them. In such cases, animals may start defending themselves and attack you. Typically, warnings precede these attacks, but it's best not to provoke the animals by touching, pulling, or climbing where you shouldn't. Always watch where you step and what you grab onto. I recommend refraining from touching any objects underwater with exposed skin areas from a safety perspective and to preserve the underwater world in its pristine state. Coral is very easy to damage, and it grows very slowly.
Here's a list of marine animals capable of causing discomfort to humans:
1. Sea Urchin: Sea urchins have sharp and very fragile spines. If stepped on, these spines can break off and remain under the skin. Some sea urchins can be venomous and may cause inflammation. First aid: Neutralize the venom with an alkaline substance (commonly available is urea). After neutralization, remove the spines with tweezers, being careful not to break them further under the skin. If some spines can't be removed, try to crush them gently with a small stone; any remaining small particles will eventually come out as inflammation subsides.
2. Moray Eel: Moray eels can attack humans when defending their lairs or if they feel threatened. They are especially aggressive during nighttime. They are not venomous. First aid: Stop bleeding, apply antiseptics, and use a sterile bandage.
3. Butterflyfish: Some species of butterflyfish have venomous spines with neurotoxic venom. Avoid contact as their raised, pointed dorsal fins are a sign of agitation. They are highly venomous.
4. Stingray: Stingrays have a very powerful spine at the tip of their tails, capable of piercing humans. They rarely attack first and prefer to hide. If stepped on, they may attack. Stingrays are venomous. First aid: Stop the bleeding, reduce mobility to slow down venom spread, and seek immediate medical attention.
5. Stonefish: Stonefish are masters of camouflage, attaching themselves to rocks and coral. Accidental contact is possible, and they may approach the shore. They don't attack humans but are EXTREMELY venomous. To provide first aid, immobilize the patient to slow down venom absorption, and seek immediate medical attention (antivenom may be needed).
6. Jellyfish and Other Cnidarians: These creatures have stinging cells with venom. Sting symptoms vary from non-venomous to lethal. Remove tentacle remnants carefully, rinse with saltwater (not freshwater), and neutralize any nematocysts with vinegar or acidic substances like lemon juice. Seek medical help in severe cases.
7. Cone Snail: Cone snails are mollusks that live in shells. They can shoot a venomous harpoon-like tooth at prey, and it can affect humans. Each third sting may result in death. Never touch shells underwater.
For first aid with marine envenomations, immobilize the affected area to slow venom spread, clean the wound with saltwater (not freshwater), and seek immediate medical assistance when venomous marine life is involved. Always exercise caution and respect marine animals' territory to minimize encounters and reduce the risk of injury.
What to do if you had contact with a marine animal dangerous to humans.
Here's the translation of the instructions:
Use an immobilizing bandage for:
- Sea snake bites,
- Cone shell stings,
- Box jellyfish (cubomedusa) stings.
Apply a hot water compress for pain relief and toxin neutralization when in contact with:
- Scorpionfish and stonefish stings,
- Stingray tail spine injuries,
- Fish spine injuries.
It's necessary to use antiallergic medications, sprays, and ointments.
In cases of severe reactions to jellyfish stings, rinse with saltwater only!
Urgently transport the victim to a hospital for antivenom administration in cases of sea snake and box jellyfish (cubomedusa) stings, as well as stonefish injuries at depths exceeding 3 meters, where there are no waves.
Great snorkeling can be found on the east side of the island in the Tulamben area, at Menjangan Island, and on the Gili and Lembongan Islands in Bali.
Recommendations from Vasilissa:
Guide to underwater photography
🌊 I'll start by saying that I'm an absolute beginner in this field, not a specialist or guru like some of my acquaintances. But I can tell you what I already know.
To capture underwater footage like we do, you need to:
1. Learn the basics of diving underwater.
It's important to simultaneously hold your breath, equalize your ears, and submerge your body to a sufficient depth.
2. Prepare your camera and underwater housing.
In our case, we use an Olympus TG-6 camera and a SeaFrogs housing. Understand how to adjust the lighting and focus, take thousands of out-of-focus and poorly composed shots, and read a photography guide.
3. Expect only 3% of your shots to turn out well.
4. Edit the captured shots.
We use a simple application called Dive+ to restore colors that are absorbed by the water.
🤿 Snorkeling and Freediving 🤿
I've been diving for about two months now, and I want to note that even without any formal training, your body naturally adapts to the water.
During my first four snorkeling sessions, diving was quite painful for me. My ears would get blocked, and I couldn't equalize the pressure. However, with time, I learned to equalize the pressure both inside and outside my ears using familiar movements. Now, I can dive to a depth of 6 meters without any issues.
📍 It's important to equalize the pressure before you start feeling pain.
📍 Before breath-holding, take deep breaths, around three breathing cycles.
Here's my essential gear for snorkeling:
🔸 Fins (local replicas of Mares Quattro fins)
🔸 Booties for fins to prevent blisters on your feet.
🔸 Lycra suit: It protects you from getting too cold or sunburned underwater and also shields against stinging plankton.
🔸 Mask: Finding the right mask fit for your face is crucial. Everyone's face shape is different, and even the most expensive mask can leak if it's not a good fit. To test it in a store, press the mask against your face without putting on the strap, inhale through your nose to create suction. If it stays in place without falling off, fits comfortably, and the store consultant gives their approval, that's the one for you.
📍 Underwater, your mask may still leak for various reasons: hair trapped under the mask, improperly adjusted straps (either too tight or too loose), straps placed too high or too low on the back of your head, excessive smiling, or fidgeting with the mask.
📍 Your mask should also not fog underwater. To prevent this, you need to prepare your mask. While there are detailed instructions available online, in short, you should burn the glass with a lighter three or four times, wiping it with a paper towel in between. This is done to remove the factory silicone grease layer (be careful not to burn the silicone of the mask itself). Afterward, apply toothpaste to the glass to remove any remaining residue. Rinse the paste off just before entering the water. This process should be done once with a new mask. Before each dive, you can spit in the mask, use a little shampoo or anti-fog solution, and rinse it immediately before putting it on.
🔸 Snorkel: The tube for breathing underwater. Nowadays, they are designed in a way that water doesn't easily enter when diving. Even if water does enter, a strong exhalation allows you to "spit" it out through the snorkel, just like whales do.
🔸 Weights: Optionally, you can attach weights to your waist to help control your buoyancy.
💰Cost: The total cost of this gear was around 10,000 rubles for me. Considering how much I enjoy diving and how often I do it, the investment was worth it. 😊