How To Dive into the BLUE !

How To Dive into the BLUE !

#1 How to Join Snorkeling

Ishigaki Island is a mecca for marine leisure that Japan is proud of. Not only qualified divers but people from a wide range of ages can play in the same place.

Today, I’ll show you how to join snorkeling in the Yaeyama area as an active diving and snorkel instructor!! However, let me tell you not only fun things but also realistic stories. 

1, What can we see?

The most recommended way to experience snorkeling is via boat tours. The boat transfer takes about 30 minutes to an hour. What can be seen depends on the destination. Totally depending on the direction and strength of the wind, the waves, and the tides of the day, the captain chooses where it’s calm and safe to snorkel, so there are many cases where you cannot go to your hopeful destinations. If you have some purpose for going to a particular area, you should research about the site and required conditions.

2, What’s snorkeling? Is it Easy? Is it Safe? 

The answer is both Yes and No.

Snorkeling allows us to observe the sea creatures while swimming with gear. It’s a wonderful activity that the whole family can join. Anyone who is healthy and can put their face in the water can easily join.

You wash your face with water every morning, don’t  you?

If you don’t hate that, you’ll be fine. You can raise your face up to the surface any time you want because it’s just floating on the surface of the water. 

In Okinawa, for safety measures, you are required to wear a life jacket or wetsuit when snorkeling. Even if you can’t swim, once you practice properly, you can float on the surface with a little trick. Wearing a mask and snorkel correctly also reduces the risk of drowning and you can breathe while looking underwater without breathing. By wearing fins, you can swim easily.

Basically, you have to be responsible for your life, but if you join a tour, the guide’ll also manage your safety. They’re trained to rescue you when there are accidents. However, if you don’t have the right knowledge, snorkeling can lead to fatal accidents.

Human beings are powerless before nature. The wind and waves change quickly every time. Do you have any knowledge to predict what will happen? What conditions can be determined to be dangerous?

The answer is NO.

No matter how professional we are, we can’t predict nature. To enjoy nature it’s important to be respectful and humble about it. Usually, we go to a special environment that we are not familiar with in our daily lives.

For these reasons, I strongly recommend letting your guide accompany you. It’s difficult for tourists to judge not only how to use the gear, but also the sea conditions such as dangerous organisms, currents and waves peculiar to the area. Even if you stay there several times a year, bad accidents happen every year. “When in Rome.”

The advantage is they can cover injury and hospitalization and apply for insurance. The gear is well maintained, so the gear is completely different from that bought at a toy store. Sometimes it’ll be a life-affecting tool.

3, Before joining the snorkel tour

When you join a tour, you should consult the shop in advance if any of the following items apply to you. You may join the tour by submitting a doctor’s medical statement.

【Medical history】

  • Taking and prescribing medications
  • Ear diseases (including diseases of the tri-semicir tube such as Meniere)
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Lung diseases (emphysema, tuberculosis, etc.)
  • Heart diseases and seizures, history of surgery and blood vessels and blood
  • Mental illness, behavioral problems
  • Experience of loss of consciousness
  • Spinal diseases
  • Pregnant

If you are older than 45 years old, please also check the following items.

  • A history of heart attack or stroke in the family
  • Currently undergoing some kind of medical treatment
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels

There are many cases where accidents occur because people don’t recognize a serious disease.

Age

People over the age of 60 may participate, but a doctor’s medical statement is required. Even if someone looks healthy, it’s necessary considering your safety. “There’s no problem joining snorkeling, it’s okay if you get a signature.

I recommend your kids can start snorkeling at 4-5 years old because they’ll be able to do mouth breathing and wear masks. 

Kids also use gear fitted for their size. This, like pool goggles, doesn’t make nasal breathing possible. Toddlers are very reluctant to breathe through their mouths with their noses clogged. Most children want to take off their masks. I think it’s more fun for them to just float with tubes. When it comes to snorkeling, it’s recommended from 5 years old.

Some people tend to force their kids to put on masks but mostly they end up crying. Then, the kids will hate the mask and even the sea. So please listen to your guide’s opinions.

The time parents spend snorkeling by themselves and playing with their kids should be properly shared.The guide isn’t a guardian. I’d like you to think once if you can act to protect yourself and your kids’ lives in an unfamiliar environment. And then, these problems should be consulted with the shop in advance. You can also find a solution with shop staff. If it’s a small shop or they have many staff, it may be possible to reserve the boat for private use by your family. It may be possible to choose the site everyone can enjoy.

4, What do we actually try on the tour?

If you’re a beginner or experienced, you should learn how to use gear first. Even if you have a lot of experience, please be sure to review it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many shops available in English. I highly recommend that you Google “How to snorkel” in English or your language before your trip. Then join the lectures your tour presents.

What you will learn includes:

  • How to adjust and put gear on
  • How to deal with water entering the mask or the snorkel
  • How to handle fins and how to swim with them
  • How to put your face on the surface from the water
  • How to get out of the water

Next, you’ll be used to using your gear, let’s swim in a place where your feet can’t touch the bottom. Then, swim with your guide to see the highlights.

  • Don’t forget to learn how to make contact if you’ll be away from your guide or boat
  • Don’t stay alone while snorkeling, keep an eye on all your party
  • Remember what time you should return to the boat

If you are worried, you should stay close to your guide. As a matter of fact, your guide knows the best places.
When I am a guest, I don’t leave the guide, because it’s more interesting!!

5, How much does it cost ?

It costs about 7,000 yen for half a day and 10,000 yen for a one-day course, including guide fees, gear-rental fees, and insurance. There are some shops whose price is cheap, but you cannot deny the question, “cheap or bad?,” So be careful and try to get more information.

Snorkeling is always advertised as an easy activity but it’s one of the activities that is fraught with danger. Stay safe and don’t forget not to disturb the place of sea creatures. I hope you’ll enjoy wonderful nature !

Yuka.M

By Yuka.M

Diving instructor, tour conductor, and officially licensed Okinawan interpreter and tour guide. Yuka was born in Hiroshima but graduated from the Institute of Technology in Tokyo. After a few years of working as an engineer in Ibaraki, she settled down on a southern island called Ishigaki, which is located between Okinawa and Taiwan. For over 15 years, Yuka has been a guide and interpreter between nature and people. She is interested in cats, dolphins, traveling, spacecrafts, MARVEL, and Disney.

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