Uncovered upper bodies put you at risk of sunburn.
You've got your mask, snorkel tube and fins: Check. Now comes the rest of your apparel. You may think you just wade out off the beach, or paddle away from the swim ladder on the back of your boat, in regular beachwear to go snorkeling. But if you're anywhere near a good reef with captivating sea denizens, you'll want to pay almost as much attention to your snorkeling wear as if you were headed out to hang 10 on a gnarly wave.
Many folks snorkel with a bare top or wearing just a bikini. But tropical sun rays on a tender snowbird's back swiftly turns into bad news in the form of a raging sunburn. A possible option is to wear a T-shirt, synthetic rather than slow-drying cotton, ideally one that fits tightly so that you can swim and move aerodynamically in the water. Even better would be to borrow from the world of surfing and wear a rash guard shirt. These attractive, tight-fitting paneled shirts come in short or long sleeves, with low crew necks, and offer ultraviolet light protection.
Completing Your Look
Even more important in terms of blocking the sun is lower-body wear, given the risk of sunburns to women especially of the upper hamstring area just under the bikini, a buoyant region that can be more exposed even than the back to rays while snorkeling. If you become enamored of beautiful coral or schools of parrotfish, time passes and this tender area can become severely burned. Again, the surfers have this aspect figured out. Swap out your swimsuit bottoms for board shorts. The boys have been wearing these since forever, and women's versions of вЂњboardiesвЂќ are now available to so you can be cool on the dive boat -- and comfortably free of sunburn after your snorkeling adventure.
Add a Snazzy Vest
Plenty of dive boats and outfitters will hand you a snorkel vest as part of your essential gear -- and with good reason. This item of safety gear provides you with extra buoyancy if you get caught in strong currents and extra visibility given its fluorescent yellow or orange color if motor craft are in the vicinity. You inhale into an oral inflater valve on its front to inflate the vest and pull down on the valve to deflate it for dives for closer looks at the coral. Avoid wearing a boat-style life preserver, as it will prevent you from going beneath the surface.
Staying WarmвЂ¦ And Not Burned
If you find yourself on the dive boat without a T-shirt, at least get water-resistant and reef-safe sunscreen on your back and the backs of your legs before hitting the water. And if you're in anything but the warmest of tropical waters, you may want to start wearing a bit more than boardies and a rash guard, and borrow from the divers' as well as the surfers' wardrobes. You can start with a neoprene vest, and graduate to a neoprene jacket, a spring suit -- a wet suit with short arms and legs -- or a full wet suit, as you find yourself in cooler and cooler waters.