Yes, snorkeling with a life jacket is possible.
Most people know about snorkel vests for snorkeling. Of course, I wrote about them here sometime back. A snorkel vest is small. It is filled with air for buoyancy. A life jacket has foam, and it is big.
Snorkeling is mostly about staying afloat. This is unlike scuba or free diving which is about maintaining negative buoyancy to descend, and positive buoyancy to ascend. Granted, some floatation devices are better than others. However, as long as you have a floatation device, you will be safe.
Why wear a life jacket for snorkeling
The ocean is a large, complex and free-willed living thing! What I mean is, it has a mind of its own. Turmoil is never too far away. Besides, you know about currents, waves, shore breaks and many more. And animals! So remember to also pack your diving knife because you might need it.
But you can buy floatation devices on Amazon. Some of them are for swimming, some for snorkeling. While swimming in a pool, you do not need a much help because you will be in a controlled and secure environment. However, you may need a swimming belt for babies if you are training your baby to swim.
Snorkeling is a different matter altogether. It is an energy intensive activity. You will get tired and if you were some distance from the shore or from the boat, you might not be able to swim back faster should something happen.
The care that you would take when going scuba diving is the same that you should apply when going for a snorkeling adventure.
If you are a senior and you would still love to snorkel, buy or rent a life jacket. There is no age limit for scuba diving and snorkeling. However, as you get older, you lose your strength. Thus, you cannot swim as energetically as a youngster would. A life jacket will keep you safe.
The secret to enjoying snorkeling is to prepare well. So get your snorkeling gear ready. Prepare well in advance. Know your level of skill. You see, not everyone needs a snorkel jacket. However, it is good to have a snorkel aid when you know you will spend a considerable amount of time in the water.
Snorkeling with a life jacket when you don’t know how to swim
Many people ask whether they can snorkel if they are not swimmers. The answer is yes, but you have to wear a life jacket.
When snorkeling, you need minimal swimming skills. Ok, it is good to be a good swimmer to enjoy water sports like snorkeling to the maximum. However, for some reason or other, some of us cannot swim.
Not knowing how to swim should not hinder you from snorkeling. Get into your wetsuit for snorkeling and then wear a life jacket on top. A life jacket is big and bulky, but it is definitely worth it for snorkeling.
With so many incredible places to snorkel in the US, you know you need this vacation. You do not want not to snorkel just because you cannot swim. Go and snorkel on any of the white sand beaches in Florida. Minimal swimming is required. It is all about buoyancy and staying afloat.
Get your travel dive bag and pack in all the essential items that you will need for your snorkeling adventure. If you do not have any, you can rent what you need at the beach snorkel shops.
Snorkel mask, neoprene snorkeling boots, gloves and everything else. You may even wear your wetsuit for snorkeling.
In my article for floatation belt for snorkeling, we looked at the importance of wearing this floatation device. However, when you do not know how to swim and you want to snorkel, a flotation belt will not be good enough for you.
Life jacket minimizes the risk of drowning
Snorkeling is a thrilling experience. However, it can be equally life threatening due to drowning. The risk of drowning is mostly high with non-swimmers or even swimmers with little experience.
Sometimes, even the most skilled swimmers can get tired while in the water. This would put them at a risk of drowning. If you are not used to swimming in the ocean, the risk is even higher because there are currents and strong waves.
To remove this risk of drowning, snorkel with a floatation device. It will help in buoyancy, especially if you are not a competent swimmer. One of such flotation devices is a life jacket.
Non-swimmers should have a life jacket while snorkeling. If you are not a good swimmer, you have not yet learnt the skill of breathing in water and hence you need to keep your head above the water to avert any possibility of drowning.
You should note however that to avoid drowning, you should wear a fitting life jacket. It is possible to drown with a life jacket if it is not a good size. When you swallow too much water or lets it get into your lungs, you can drown even with your face out of the water.
A life jacket is designed to keep you alive
A life jacket is designed to keep you alive in case your boat or ship is wrecked. It is made in such a way that it can always keep you afloat, with your head above the water so that you can breathe easily.
It is fitted with dense foam mostly at the chest area and has a strip made of foam for supporting your head. This way, a life jacket ensures that you remain afloat, with your head out of the water.
When you keep your head above the water, you can breathe naturally. In case of any distress, you can be able to call for help. In addition, life jackets usually come in bright colors to keep you visible when you are in the water even from a distance.
Disadvantages of snorkeling with a life jacket
As much as a life jacket can be used for snorkeling, it can make your experience less enjoyable. This is because snorkeling is basically swimming shallowly in the water, with your head immersed in the water so that you can enjoy the beauty of the underwater world.
With a life jacket, it is hard to keep your head in the water or even to properly position yourself in the water because it will keep on bringing you up the surface of the water. A life jacket that enables you to stay afloat is good. In fact, that is how you know it is not defective.
If you are looking for a real snorkeling experience where you can even shoot awesome videos with a waterproof scuba camera, the jacket will prevent your maneuver.
When you wear a life jacket for snorkeling, it becomes very difficult to swim forward. This is because the dense foam on the chest area creates a massive drag in the water. A lot of drag and snorkeling can never go together because it will make the activity too tiring. The idea is to move effortlessly in the water as you follow that turtle.
Snorkel vest vs. life jacket
Now that we have seen the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a life jacket for snorkeling you may wonder what buoyancy accessory is the best to wear to keep you relatively safe. The answer is a snorkel vest.
Just as its name suggests, this is a vest that is designed specifically to help keep you afloat while still ensuring that you enjoy your snorkeling experience. Unlike a life jacket which is big and it is filled with dense foam, the vest is filled with air. You can increase or decrease depending on your needs, since the vest is inflatable.
Snorkel vests are also less bulky and smaller than life jackets, which makes them more comfortable to wear while snorkeling. However, they should not be relied upon so much for keeping the user afloat for a long time. They are also not useful for rescue or life preserving purposes.
A snorkel vest should just be used as a floatation aid to give you some rest if you become tired when snorkeling. If you are not a good swimmer, or you have not yet mastered the skill of breathing through a snorkel when under water, you had better stick to a life jacket.
Thus, in the question of whether to use a snorkel vest or go for snorkeling with a life jacket, the latter is better for non-swimmers, seniors, children and even for skilled swimmers who want to snorkel in a turbulent ocean.