Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Snorkelling is an ideal holiday activity for all the family to enjoy. There is very little in the way of equipment needed. The hardest part is deciding on a location. Below is a general guide to essential and non-essential equipment you will need to snorkel in Ireland and generally what you should be looking for. We would recommend buying from reputable dealers who can provide you with sound advice on what size and additional features might suit you for cold water environments.
1) Mask and snorkel
Any diver will tell you that there is nothing more annoying than a leaking mask! There are so many different varieties and levels of quality of these on the market you can buy. It would be recommended to go to a dive supplier to ensure that the mask you are buying is a good fit. Not all snorkels are made equal either. Some cheaper snorkels are simply designed with straightforward tubes and others with valves that allow them to be cleared easily in the event of water getting in or not allow the water to enter at all.
2) Wet suit
Arguably optional in warmer climates but not really in Irish coastal waters. It is advisable to use a full-length suit in Irish waters of which the thickness will depend on the person and the time of year.
Remember snorkelling will allow you to be in the water for extended periods of time with your head partly submerged and attention elsewhere, it's easy to lose focus on your own health and wellbeing (e.g. cold, sunburn etc.) so wearing the right protective equipment is important.
These are essential for ease of movement in the water. The type and length will depend on the person and the additional equipment they are using - open heel or boots.
(See note below on boots).
4) Hood and gloves
Irish waters, like most northern European waters, can be quite cold. For some, hoods and gloves are essential items. A typical thickness for gloves is 2 – 5mm where there is a trade-off between dexterity (feeling) and warmth - the thicker the glove the more warmth but less feeling and movement and vice versa. When it comes to a hood this too can vary widely in thickness and length. Something to consider when buying a hood is to buy one with a reflective band on the top of the hood so that a shore marshal can spot you more easily.
Boots do not come as part of a wetsuit (sometimes they are sold together) and are arguably an optional part of your kit. There are 2 different types of fins that are available - ones that slip onto your foot (sometimes referred to as pool fins) and others that strap around. With the straparound fins, boots are advisable to wear as they can cause rubbing or they can easily slip off due to size differences.
Not an essential part of your snorkel equipment but it’s nice to have to keep memories of your snorkelling adventure. Always remember to get a camera with a waterproof housing and some form of coloured floatation device so that if your camera goes for a swim you have some way of finding it!
The above is the minimum basic equipment you will need to make your snorkel trip a very enjoyable experience. For more advanced diving aka “skin diving” or diving on a snorkel contact your local dive center or club for further information on training.
There are plenty of locations around Ireland to travel to where snorkelling can be enjoyed. Where are you planning to go?