Snorkeling with Groups

Snorkeling and or traveling with a group may not be for everyone. We totally understand that being in the water with strangers is not what many people want. However, we also know, just as many of you do I’m sure, that snorkelers booking a stay with a dive resort or liveaboard as individuals are routinely treated as second-class guests when it comes to the sites that are chosen for snorkeling. It is precisely this reason that the founders of Snorkel Venture, Ben & Sarah, created Snorkel Venture. They understood that snorkelers share the same interest in the ocean as divers do, only they want to experience it from a different perspective. So, for our snorkeling safaris, what we do to ensure that all of our guests are catered to as snorkelers and not accessories, is we charter the entire resort or liveaboard so that the whole thing is ours.  For the larger resorts where it’s not practical to book the whole thing, we have an agreement with the resort so that we have several snorkeling-specific boats with local guides just for us. As you can probably understand by now, all of these resort takeovers and charters mean we need to run the tours as group tours. With that in mind, if you booked a trip to any one of these resorts or liveaboards, you’d still be around the same number of people, only those people would most likely be bubble-blowing divers.

For quite a few of our guests, this is the first time they’ve ever snorkeled in a group setting, and, as a result, we get a lot of questions about how it works with the groups in the water. Here are a few questions we frequently get, along with the responses, of course.

  • How do we snorkel comfortably and safely as a group?

Unlike divers where you organize yourselves into groups of four with a guide, we’ve found that a loose ‘blob’ approach works much better for snorkeling. The resorts and liveaboards still typically give us a local snorkel guide for every four guests, however, instead of making small groups around each guide, we have one guide in front with a brightly colored float, one in back with another float, and then the rest of the guides spaced out in the middle. If you’d like to stay next to a guide, you can absolutely do that. However, if you’d like to do your own thing at a comfortable and safe distance away from the group, that’s also fine so long as you stay in front of the rear guide and behind the front guide. The guides will then match our pace, and not the other way around.

  • What do you do for your larger group tours, won’t that be too many people in the water?

Many of our group tours have an average size of twelve guests. However, we do have several tours which take anywhere from fourteen to thirty guests. For tours up to twenty guests, we will generally follow the same in-water procedure as above. There is more than enough space on the reefs we visit for groups of this size to comfortably snorkel together. For groups over twenty people, we typically split the groups up so that each group of guests will be snorkeling on separate reefs.

  • What about Safety with that many people in the water?

At nearly all of the destinations we visit the local snorkeling guides from the resort or liveaboard will have at least one float. That could be in the form of an orange life ring, a long inflatable surface marker that divers use to let boats know they are below, or a larger oval-shaped float normally used for freediving or spearfishing. These floats not only let any passing boats know that there are snorkelers there but they also give any tired guests something to hold onto as they rest. As I said before, we also have multiple guides in the water with us, usually in a ratio of one guide per four guests, along with the Snorkel Venture guide or guides. These guides will not only be pointing things out to the guests, but they are also constantly making sure everyone is doing ok. And finally, regardless of if we are snorkeling from a liveaboard or a resort, we always have boat support. The liveaboard’s dingy or tender boats will float along with us, just as the resort’s snorkeling boat or boats will do as well. If anyone needs to come back to the boat, just give the tender boat a wave and it will come and collect you.

About Author

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Alex Lindbloom
Alex is a Snorkel Venture and Dive Safari Asia guide as well as the video and photo pros for both companies. Alex is also a field editor for a popular underwater photography magazine. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world working as an underwater cameraman, with five of those years living/working on a yacht in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards such as Underwater Photographer of the Year and can be seen on NatGeo, Discovery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.