If you’re in the process of booking a snorkeling safari with us you’ll no doubt see that we constantly recommend that everyone wears some sort of thermal protection. This may seem confusing as the water temperature on the vast majority of our trips averages 28°C/82°F. That’s nearly bath water! It’s true, the water can be quite warm, particularly in our snorkeling safaris that take place in Northern Indonesia, Belize, and Cuba where water temperatures can reach as high as 32°C/90°F!
With water temperatures so inviting for snorkelers, why are we constantly urging our guests to pack a wetsuit or some sort of thermal protection for the water? Well, as we are in the business of organizing snorkeling-specific tours, a typical day has us snorkeling up to four times a day. Each snorkel session will last anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes, depending on the site. The vast majority of our snorkeling safaris are two weeks long, with some running as long as three to four weeks. That’s a lot of snorkeling, which is awesome! The big thing I think many people don’t take into account on snorkeling safaris like this is our body’s physiological response to being immersed in water for prolonged periods of time. Our body loses heat twenty-five percent faster in water than it does on land. Our bodies operate at 37°C/98.6°F, so, even in water temperatures reaching up to 32°C/90°F, that’s a considerable difference in temperatures, and if you’re spending three to four hours a day in the water your internal body temperature is going to be significantly lower than what it normally operates at. While there’s nothing particularly dangerous about this bit of heat loss, it will however make you feel cold and you will no doubt be uncomfortable as the trip runs on.
All that super science aside, through all the different snorkeling safaris we take over five-hundred people snorkeling each year, which gives us guides a very good idea of how people react to the time in the water. As a guide myself, I can say for certain that the people who choose not to wear any sort of thermal protection are the ones who are either skipping snorkeling sessions or ending their sessions earlier than the rest of the group because they got a bit chilly. Not only that, but they are also the ones spending ages lathering up their bodies before each snorkel, and quite often still getting sunburnt. Very few sun-creams can hold up to so much exposure to the sun, particularly when you’re in and out of the water every few hours!
So, there you have it. Bringing a thermal suit or a neoprene wetsuit with you, even if you don’t wear it on every snorkel, will not only help keep you warm and comfortable in the water as the trips progress but it will also help protect you from the sun and even little the little stingers in the water can be annoying and sometimes a bit painful!
If you don’t have an exposure suit and need a bit of help deciding what thickness and what type of material is best for you, or even where to buy one, these blogs should help with that.