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Snorkeling

By Emily Moskal

In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle observed sponge divers breathing underwater using hollow reeds. Before that, swimming elephants with upturned trunks led the innovation. In modern times, snorkeling has become a popular leisure activity for families, often at state parks.

With more than 80,000 miles of running streams, crystalline springs as clear as drinking water and 367 miles of coastline, Texas has a lot of room for snorkeling.

Why snorkel? Snorkeling affords limitless time on the water, without the expense of gear or complicated techniques, and it’s accessible to people of any shape and age. The only skills you need to get started are floating and breathing.

Duck diving. The underwater exploration afforded by a snorkel is endless. “Duck diving” or “active” snorkeling takes you below the surface on a treasure hunt. Swim down to nooks and crannies, and discover submerged treasures like oysters and lost sunglasses. Just practice holding your breath and clearing your snorkel.

Through the fog. An almost unavoidable problem for snorkelers is a foggy mask. Here’s a tip: Let a little water in at the bottom of your mask to prevent the temperature difference that causes fogging. Tilt your head to let the water wash over the lens.

Get Out

Gear Up:

Waterproof fish. Freshwater Fishes of Texas by Earl Chilton provides illustrated accounts of 46 species to guide you through schools of fish.

Snorkel. Choose a snorkel that fits comfortably in your mouth. A splash-guard will help keep your snorkel clear during choppy waters and horseplay.

Mask. Find a silicon-skirted mask that fits. With the straps hanging loose, put the mask against your face. Inhale lightly through your nose. If the mask tugs and doesn’t fall, it fits.

Fins. Propel yourself through the water with fins, even in strong currents. Be careful — fins can easily damage delicate water bottoms or stir up sediment.

Where to go:

Salt Water

  • East & West Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
  • South Padre Island 

Fresh Water

  • Balmorhea State Park
  • Guadalupe River State Park
  • South Llano River State Park
  • Barton Springs Pool
  • San Marcos River

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