Can You Breathe Underwater With A Snorkel?

Can You Breathe Underwater With A Snorkel 1

Can you breathe underwater with a snorkel? That indeed is the 64-dollar question for many newbie snorkelers and divers.

The answer is yes. The snorkel tube attached to the full face mask will allow you to breathe under water. It attaches to the mask at the top and it has been designed in such a way that it lets in air inside the mask but it keeps the water out. Thus, to breath well underwater, you should use a full face snorkel mask.

Snorkeling is a half-surface half-depth water sport. Diving is, well, a fully underwater sport. It is not entirely a surface water sport as we may be led to believe.

Eventually, you will have to get your face in the water, and you will ask whether you will be able to breathe in underwater.

Snorkeling gives you a chance to enjoy the amazing beauty that the underworld water has to offer. It is a pretty cool adventure especially once you have mastered it. The trick lies in knowing how to choose and use your snorkeling gear.

You do not want to take a beach vacation, only for you to leave without snorkeling. You will miss quite a lot!

Plan for snorkeling, you will love it. It is incredibly fun, easy and enjoyable. However, to do that, you need a good snorkeling mask, so that you can breathe easily with your face buried under water.

However, as fun and thrilling snorkeling might be, many might shy away from exploring it because of various reasons. Among them is the fear of not being able to breathe while underwater or being unable to hold their breath for too long. Others are afraid of constantly choking on the salty water; which is really annoying.

Types of snorkels and snorkel tubes

Types of snorkels and snorkel tubes

Depending on the type of snorkel that you choose, you can even do your scuba diving comfortably and still breathe under water. So if you are planning a family diving vacation, toss in some scuba weights.

You can dive deep with a dry snorkel, as you will see later in this section. For any reason, you can be sure that you do not want to miss the joys of the weightless feeling that you experience when you are underwater. But first, it all depends on your gear .

You cannot know whether a snorkel tube can help you breathe underwater if you do not know the most common types of snorkels in the market.

Actually, there are snorkel tubes that are designed to be completely dry, that is, they do not let in water even when you are fully submerged.

Let’s have a look at just a few of the most common snorkels and snorkel tubes:

Semi-dry snorkel tube

This is a snorkel tube that has been designed with a splash guard at the opening. What this means is that when you are submerged in water, it will not keep the water outside. It will let in. Thus, this kind of snorkel is best used when you do not intend to submerge the snorkel itself.

Can you breathe underwater with a snorkel  – J-snorkel

Of the traditional snorkels, the J-snorkel is the most common of them all. It is designed in the shape of the letter J. Since the tube has good length, you can actually snorkel with it with your face fully submerged while the top part of the snorkel sticks outside the water.

Since the top of this snorkel tube is open, well, you should be careful not to snorkel in a place with waves at a height that could splash into the snorkel. That would mean taking mouthfuls of salty ocean water, something that you really do not want.

When you are relaxing on a white sand beach in Florida, if you check around in the designated snorkeling areas, you can see these snorkel tubes sticking out.

Dry snorkel tube

Dry snorkel tube

This is the best of them all. As you can see from the name, a dry snorkel tube is just that – a tube that is designed to keep you completely dry. At the top, there is a splash guard that keeps water out.

However, in the event that some water finds itself inside, a non-return valve at the bottom of the dry snorkel tube gets the water one way, when you exhale.

Needless to say, this is a popular snorkel for people who love diving. It allows you to stay a long time in the water. If you are snorkeling, you can even stay long in the water, studying coral reefs, marine life and much more to satisfaction.

How traditional snorkeling mask works

Can you breathe underwater with a snorkel, a traditional snorkel tube? You need to bring a good snorkel tube and mask to your snorkeling destination.

The traditional snorkeling mask has eye protection, and it has a snorkel tube through which you breathe. The snorkel tube sticks out of the water, and through it, you draw your breath. The other end of the tube sticks in your mouth.

Not very pleasant! But that is how it works. This traditional snorkel mask has however been replaced by the more modern full-face snorkeling mask. This means that you no longer have to bite a tube in your mouth.

And this is a good thing too, because the traditional snorkel mask had issues, many of them. One, water always finds itself inside the snorkel tube. This means that you cannot stay as long as you would like on your snorkeling activity. You do not want salty seawater to find its way into your lungs, do you?

Snorkel tubes such as the dry snorkel and the semi-dry snorkel can help you breathe underwater. However, when the J-snorkel is submerged, water gets in.

Enter the full face snorkel mask

Thanks to technology, the invention of a snorkel provided a kind of solution to the problem of breathing while one is submerged in water.

But this does not mean that there is no tube. Of course, there is one, since it is responsible for getting air into the mask. But I can tell you free of charge that a snorkel mask allows you to breath underwater just as if you were out of the water.

With a full face mask for snorkeling, there is no tube to bite down on. This also means that there is no jaw fatigue. All that you have to worry about is

This does not mean that there is no chance that water could get into mask. Of course, it could. However, there are measures to take care of that risk.

A snorkel is a very important piece of your snorkeling gear that helps you breathe while underwater. It is mostly used for various narrow underwater activities, the most common ones being snorkeling, swimming and spearfishing.

Questions that people ask about snorkeling

Among the most common questions that I encounter with about snorkeling is: Can you breathe underwater with a snorkel?

To this we have answered yes. You just need to choose the right snorkel for your diving or snorkeling adventure.

Before answering this question, I would like to give you just a few tips for choosing the right snorkel. Choosing the wrong snorkel can ruin your entire experience even if you are a seasoned snorkeler or diver. Thus, it is very important that you choose the right snorkel if you want to enjoy the whole adventure.

Choosing the best traditional snorkel mask

Choosing the best traditional snorkel mask

First, one of the things that you should ensure while choosing your snorkel is that it has the right diameter. If you intend to use your snorkel for recreational snorkeling, its diameter should be the size of your little finger. However, if you plan on using your snorkel for free diving, its diameter should be the size of your index finger.

Always stick either of the two fingers while selecting your snorkel to ensure that you choose the right diameter. Choosing a narrow diameter can hinder the air passage while choosing a wider one will make it harder for you to blow it clean.

Next, always choose a snorkel that is long enough to stick out above the water surface. The best snorkel should poke out at least 8 cm above your head. This is enough to enable you breath while your face is underwater.

If you are using a traditional snorkel mask, the snorkel should come in a simple and easy-to-use shape. It should have a bend that will comfortably curve under your mouth and around your face.

Lastly, the mouthpiece should be sturdy, durable and it should comfortably fit on your mouth. The right mouthpiece should allow your teeth to comfortably bite into the knobs while your lips comfortably cover the flap. It should also allow you to open your mouth adequately to allow air to pass through your teeth.

Choosing a full face snorkel mask

Here, you should mostly worry about the size of the mask. This means that it should be just right for you. If you have a small face, choose a snorkel mask for youth. If you have a large face, there are snorkel masks made for such kinds of faces.

The mask should have a wide angle of view. This will be wider than what you would get with a traditional snorkel mask. This is why these masks are quite fantastic.

If you are using a full face snorkeling mask, then the answer to the question of can you breathe underwater with a snorkel is a resounding yes. However, please note that snorkeling is a surface water sport. However, how long one can breathe using a snorkel however depends on several things.

So how does the snorkel attached to the full face snorkel mask work? It is pretty simple and ingenious at the same time. You see, at the snorkel’s top end, there is a ball which is responsible for sealing the air valve when you are under the water. That way, no water is going to enter the snorkel tube.

One of the reasons that you should use a full face snorkeling mask is that it is very comfortable. In fact, some are so good such that you can breathe as you would if you were above water. The shenanigans that come with traditional snorkel masks are absent here. Did you know that the mask has a way of draining water if it finds its way in? It has!

Can you breathe underwater with a snorkel and for how long?

Most snorkels will enable you two stay underwater for about two to three minutes before you can get your face out to breathe. However, when you are snorkeling with just half of your head in the water, you know, with the snorkel sticking out of the water, you can stay a longer time with your face down in the water.

Different people have different breath holding abilities. The longer you are able to hold your breath, the longer can you breathe underwater with a snorkel, and vice versa.

Generally, women have a higher breath holding ability and resistance than men. This is because women have more flexible chests. They can dive deeper or stay longer underwater compared to men.

How physically fit a person is also plays a crucial role on how long you can be able to hold your breath. The main restriction while using a snorkel is therefore your ability to hold breath while diving or snorkeling.

Risks involved in breathing underwater when snorkeling

When using a snorkel to breathe underwater, it is good to be aware of the risks involved.

One of them is the possibility of blacking out, which can actually be very fatal. The deeper you go the higher the water pressure. Actually, the pressure increases by about 1 Atm for every 10 meters.

Naturally, your lungs are supposed to breathe in at ambient pressure. When you dive deeper, you might feel as if you are breathing through a sealed tube where you are able to exhale but unable to inhale.

When you exhale into the snorkel, what flows in most is stale air. This means that every time you breathe through a snorkel, you inhale stale air first and then fresh air.

This makes your carbon dioxide level to go up and although you are inhaling and exhaling, it may feel as if you are suffocating.

When descending after you take a deep breath, your lungs are full of oxygen. In other words, they are compressed, which enhances the oxygen uptake in your body system. When ascending, your lungs expand, which makes them demand more air from your blood, up to the last drop of oxygen.

Due to this, the oxygen levels in your system drops drastically just before you are able to resurface and breathe in again. If this happens, you can faint before reaching to the surface, which is fatal.

Therefore, it is very important that you know your limits before attempting to snorkel or dive. Never force your body to go beyond excessive boundaries. Do not compete with more experienced divers, just relax and have fun without pushing your body to dangerous limits.

Listen to your body while you are underwater. Never ignore signs such as fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, cramps and so on.


Being able to breathe with a snorkel is pure fun when done in the right way. You will always look forward to the next snorkeling or diving opportunity. Just practice using it more and learn how your body works. Keep a record of how long you can hold your breath and never force your body to go beyond its capability.

Can you breathe underwater with a snorkel? Well, now you know the answer to that, a resounding yes.