The UAE and Oman's warm, calm waters make this the perfect place to get into snorkelling. If you’d like to take a glimpse into underwater life without making the investment to become a certified diver, snorkelling is the way to go. It is a great hobby regardless of your age or fitness level, and the minute you get your first glimpse of bright reef life, you’ll be hooked.
With some excellent snorkelling spots literally at your doorstep, there’s no shortage of opportunities to fit in a spot of marine life exploration: all you need is some basic equipment and you’re ready to go. Divers may get to witness more rare species, but snorkelling has its benefits too. Unlike divers, when snorkellers see something exciting they can call their buddy over to share the sight.
Snorkellers are also well placed to get up and close with a variety of fish thanks to the fact that the snorkelling apparatus doesn’t make the same kind of noise as dive equipment. Divers often return to the boat to hear of turtles seen coming up for air on the surface, rays jumping out of the water and of shoals of different fish near the surface. In the winter, there are some areas where you’re almost guaranteed sightings of sharks and, again, snorkellers often strike it luckier than divers.
All you need is a pair of fins, a tempered glass mask and a snorkel. There are two types of fins: open foot fins and fins meant to be used with booties. It’s also a good idea to wear a suit or a ‘skin’ (which is thinner than a wetsuit but still offers UV protection) to prevent sunburn and to offer some protection from jellyfish stings. If you wear a wetsuit you may need to wear a weightbelt too, especially if you like to duck dive down and check things out.
You can hire snorkelling equipment from most dive shops or centres and some hotels. A good dive shop will advise you on how to find a mask that’s a good fit; you’ll be shown how to attach the snorkel to the mask, and assisted in choosing fins that meet your requirements.
If you’d rather buy your own equipment, a wide variety of masks and snorkels can be found at sports stores and dive shops. Masks and snorkels range in price from Dhs.80 for a generic set to Dhs.300 for a branded, diving-specific set.
You can pretty much snorkel anywhere off a boat – all you need is a mask and fins, and you’ll probably see something swimming around. However, you’re most likely to spot a good variety of marine life by booking a snorkelling trip with one of the local dive schools.
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