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Belize Vacation Preparation Guide - Snorkeling Basics

Snorkeling is a great way to explore Belize's underwater paradise.  Belize is home to the second largest coral reef system in the world and its waters are teeming with marine plant and animal life.  From beautiful coral formations and sea grass beds to turtles and brightly colored tropical fish, there is so much to see and experience in Belize's marine environment.  One of the best ways to experience this rich and diverse ecosystem firsthand is to embark on a snorkeling excursion.  Snorkeling allows you to swim on at the surface of the water without the need to constantly raise your head for a breath of air.  As a result, you can immerse yourself in the underwater environment and enjoy a more comfortable and complete aquatic experience.  With Belize's numerous coral atolls, abundant marine life and crystal clear waters, snorkeling provides an ideal way to see and experience all that Belize has to offer beneath the surface of the water.  With many exceptional snorkeling destinations, Belize is a great place for both experienced and beginner snorkelers. Equipment - Masks, Snorkels & Fins For those who are planning to try snorkeling for the first time while vacationing in Belize, there are a few tips and techniques to keep in mind that will make your experience more comfortable and enjoyable.  It is also important to select snorkeling equipment that fits properly.  An ill-fitting mask can allow water to leak into the mask, interfering with visibility.  It is important that you have a smooth seal around your face and the mask.  A good way to test if a mask fits you well is to press the mask to your face and inhale through your nose.  Do not put the strap around your head, but leave it off in front of the mask.  If the mask seals, it will stay on your face even if you tilt your head forward.  Check that no hair gets between the mask and your face to break the seal.  It is also recommended that you test your mask in your local pool prior to going out for your first snorkeling experience.  It is also important to ensure that your snorkel fits comfortable in your mouth. As for fins, it is important that your fins fit snug, but that they are not too sung as they might cut off the circulation in your feet.  Complete foot fins are recommended over those with a strap around the heel. Breathing Once you have all of your equipment ready, the most important thing to remember is to relax when you are in the water.  At first, breathing with your face under water may feel strange and unnatural, but it is important not to panic.  Breathe slowly and regularly until you get used to the rhythm and technique of breathing through your snorkel.  Once you have mastered the breathing aspect of snorkeling, you can begin to swim.  While snorkeling, you should keep your arms at your sides and propel yourself with your fins.  This will help to streamline your body and will thereby reduce fatigue. Sunscreen To make your snorkeling experience as comfortable as possible, remember to wear plenty of sunscreen on your back and on the backs of your legs.  As we are all concerned for the reef systems of the world, we strongly suggest biodegradable sunscreen, which dissolves in the water.   The water will magnify the sun's rays, making its effects more intense, yet the coolness of the water may make you unaware that your skin is becoming burnt until it is too late.  One might also consider wearing a rash guard, wetsuit,  or even long underwear to assist in preventing sun burns, as well as it may keep you warmer therefore allowing you to stay in the water a little longer. Environment While snorkeling, it's also important to remember to respect the environment.  This involves refraining from touching the coral, which is incredibly fragile and easily destroyed.  Snorkelers should also refrain from feeding the fish or other marine animals as they could become dependent on humans for food or lose their natural wariness, a characteristic important to their survival.  Last but not least, remember to relax, have fun and fully enjoy the unique and memorable experience of exploring Belize's truly remarkable underwater wonderland.