08 Jul The Basics of Snorkeling in Panama City
It is amazing to think 71% of Earth is covered by water reaching depths of 12,100 feet. The deepest, darkest trenches of the ocean are left to the imagination, but the shallow edges are open for endless exploration. Snorkeling is one way of discovering the diversity of ecosystems underwater. Snorkeling is a way of swimming in shallow waters that uses a breathing tube and snorkeling mask. With the proper snorkeling gear, you can lazily swim around while viewing the beauty of ocean creatures.
The Basics of Snorkeling Gear
Humans don’t have gills and weren’t made to breathe underwater, so we must be cognizant of those shortcomings. Having the proper snorkeling equipment is essential to make the experience enjoyable. The most important factor when selecting gear is how it fits. The gear must fit you properly and comfortably. The nice thing about snorkeling is the minimal amount of gear it requires: a mask, snorkel, and fins. If you are venturing into cold waters, a wetsuit might be handy, but Panama City snorkeling stays in the warmer waters of the Gulf.
- Mask: There are multiple designs, but the purpose of the mask is to allow you to keep your head under water. It covers the eyes and the nose. This allows you to view the ocean while you are submerged and keeps water from entering through your nose. Masks differ from goggles in that they don’t suction to your eyes, but rather fit comfortably around the face and can be adjusted by wide elastic straps. Masks also require mouth breathing so they won’t fog up.
- Snorkel: This is one of the most important pieces. It allows you to breathe while underwater. It is a large and long plastic tube that sticks up out of the water and has a mouthpiece to let in oxygen. The mouthpiece must fit snuggly to seal water out and the tube itself must have wide bends to prevent any breathing restrictions.
- Fins: There’s a reason fish have fins and not four extremities. Fins propel fish smoothly through the water. When you’re snorkeling, fins allow you to propel softly and swiftly through the water. The goal is maximum efficiency with minimum effort, and fins will allow this to happen, making you less of a choppy, unorthodox swimmer. The fins also reduce the chance of disrupting the sea life you are trying to view. Typically, fins are made from composite plastic or neoprene rubber. They can be a full foot that you slip on like a shoe or they might be an open heal that consists of an adjustable strap for a tight fit.
Panama City Snorkeling Places
Once you have the proper snorkeling gear, the goal is to find the best places to snorkel. Panama City Beach runs the coast of the Gulf offering some of the most serene reef life. One of the most well-known and popular places to snorkel is St. Andrews State Park. It is known for its undulating emerald waters and stark white sandy beaches. It features a jetty that is also a migratory stop for birds. St. Andrews houses a variety of wildlife to view while snorkeling ranging from shrimp to stingrays. There are a variety of fish, manta rays, and even jellyfish.
Owned by St. Andrews, but operating as its own nature preserve, is Shell Island. Compared to St. Andrews, Shell Island is a quiet extension of the state park covering about 700 acres. It was named for the plethora of shells that can be found on its shores. It offers a more secluded snorkeling vibe but is famous for having one of the highest concentrations of bottle-nosed dolphins in the world. You may have the opportunity to snorkel with the dolphins while simultaneously viewing tropical fish, coral reefs, and sponges.
Both places offer a unique snorkeling experience and it is believed no day is the same. The underwater ecosystem is literally, a fluctuating sea of life. The Earth’s water is unchartered territory for many people, but snorkeling offers an introduction to familiarizing oneself with the ocean. With a little preparation, the proper snorkeling equipment allows for a unique exotic experience.