Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling Tips

Snorkelling Tips Great Barrier Reef

If you are a non-swimmer or just new to snorkelling and you have planned a wonderful vacation on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, then you will need to read our tips on how to use and fit your snorkelling equipment before you go and begin to explore the coral reefs to see all the lively and colourful marine life on a day tour or a live aboard dive and snorkel tour.

Each and every one of the Great Barrier Reef tour reef boats carry all the dive and snorkel equipment on board for the daily use by tourists.

The snorkelling equipment comes in all shapes, sizes and colours and you can even order one’s if you have poor eye sight.  

Once you are all settled on the boat your reef hosts will invite you to come along and get fitted for your flipper size and mask size from the box of equipment on the boat.

These masks and snorkels are sterilised in disinfectant on a daily basis so you will need to rinse them off in the salt water before using them.

The crew will also show you videos and do a presentation on how to know when you have the right size and how to fit your snorkel gear on correctly.

If you are a non-swimmer and or you are travelling with little children or older grandparents we highly recommend you book a Great Barrier Reef tour to visit an interactive pontoon that sits out on the edges of the Great Barrier Reef.

The reason we make this recommendation for non-swimmers is because from these stable pontoon platforms you can take scenic helicopter flights, ride around and view the reef in a semi-submersible submarine, view all the underwater action in the observatory under the pontoon, listen to the marine biology and fish feeding presentation, try Seawalker, Helmet Diving and Scubadoo.

Just because you cannot swim does not mean you need to miss out on seeing the Great Barrier Reef!


Photo Courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland

Underwater Vision Problems

If you wear glasses you have a few options to choose from where could place soft contact lenses in your eyes or you think you would like to have your very own custom made snorkel gear then you have the alternative of purchasing your very own corrective lens masks, bifocal corrective lens mask or a prescription lens mask once you have seen your optometrist and they have translated your script into the values needed for your corrective dive mask to be manufactured.

Otherwise most of the Great Barrier Reef tours may have some prescription masks on board for your use already.

Just ask out team of Great Barrier Reef Tour Specialists for some advice before booking. Call us on 07 4059 5959

Photo Courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland

How To Fit Your Snorkel Gear

All boats have bins full of fins that are relatively the same as your shoe size so just let the crew member know your shoe size or select them yourselves.

When trying on your fins make sure you are sitting down and not in the way of other guests.  

Another tip is to not try and walk around the boat with your fins on as this is very dangerous to yourself and those that may be around you.

Only place the fins on your feet as you are about to enter the water on the edges of the boat.

When choosing a mask think about your head and face size and your age as yes unfortunately wrinkles can let water seep into the sides of your mask.

Keep all hair clear from your face as this too will allow the water to seep into your mask.

Once you have all the correct sizes it is time to de-fog your mask with the spray that the crew can give you.

Spray the inside of the masks lenses, give it a little rub and then rinse it off in salt water.

Place the mask strap on the back of your head and your snorkel under the mask strap in front of your ear.

Seal your lips tightly around the snorkel mouth piece and breathe only thru your mouth not your nose.

When in the water and need to clear your mask just tilt your head back out of the water and the bottom of your mask to let the water drain out.

To clear water from your snorkel give a big exhale through the snorkel to push the water out the top.

If you are a nervous swimmer it may be best to stop, tread water, lift your head out of the water and do the above.

If uncomfortable at any time you may ask for the assistance of a boat crew member

When on a snorkel trip you need to be aware of space and etiquette around you so that you do not snorkel into other guests or have your fins hit any part of their body.

When entering the water in your snorkel gear always check around in the water below for other snorkelers before jumping and look ahead when snorkelling to ensure you do not crash into other snorkelers.

If you are a bit nervous about snorkelling we recommend you book a Cairns island tour so that you can practice snorkelling in the shallow water before going out on a deep water Great Barrier Reef tour. 

Photo Courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland

Important Medical Advice

Be aware of your own physical limitations and swimming ability and do not try to exceed these in excitement.   

Snorkelling can be a strenuous activity and if you are older or suffer from heart disease, asthma, lung complaints, epilepsy, diabetes, allergies to stings, and bites or any other medical condition which can be made worse by physical exertion, you should take caution and ensure you inform the boat crew of your situation so they may assist you.

For those that are non-swimmers or those not so confident in the water each of the Great Barrier Reef tour boats carry flotation devices like long pool noodles that you can place along your chest and under your arms to keep you afloat.

Photo Courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland

Snorkelling in Safety

Do not consume alcohol before entering the water and eat only in moderation before snorkelling and scuba diving.

If a little nervous we always recommend you snorkel with a buddy and there are quite often lone travellers that you may ask to join you in an underwater experience to keep each other company.

If you experience difficulty in the water then raise one arm to signal the lifeguards on lookout and they will arrange for a boat to come and assist you.   

We recommend you hire one of the Lycra sun suits to protect you from the burning sun and also to protect you from any marine life that may sting or irritate. 

Plants and corals may have stinging mechanisms so it is best not to touch the corals or anything else on the reef and just use your eyes to observe this wonderful underwater world.

Marine jellyfish sometimes are present and whilst most are not considered harmful, certain varieties may cause painful stings requiring hospitalisation so please ensure you listen to the boat crews advice at all times whilst enjoying your Great Barrier Reef tour.

Photo Courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland