The snorkeling community is very open, fun, and inclusive – and a little bit complicated. Like any other widespread hobby or sport, experienced snorkelers adhere to etiquette traditions that evolved out of mutual respect for their peers. Learning this etiquette before your first trip is a great way to make a good first impression.

Top Four Etiquette Tips Every Snorkeler Should Know

Are you too excited to wait for your instructor’s office hours? The tips outlined below will help you know what to expect. Every location has a different culture and every instructor has different preferences, but some matters of etiquette are always good practice.

1. Stay Calm in the Water

While staying calm is technically essential for staying safe, it is also a matter of etiquette. Move gently and slowly at all times to avoid scaring away any aquatic life that your neighbors may be viewing. There is nothing worse than trying to check out a rare species only to have your sight obscured by a cloud of sand. Take frequent breaks and make sure to remain patient so that everyone can enjoy the view without obstruction or distraction.

2. Practice Beforehand

Snorkeling is fun, and everybody in your group is going to be excited to get in the water. Everyone will have questions. Help your instructor save time by learning the basics beforehand: practice clearing your goggles, learn how to jump into the water gracefully, and if you want to go the full mile, bring your own equipment so you won’t have to spend time battling bulky rentals. Take some time to visit the shop at SnorkelGear.com for a wide selection of reliable brands.

3. Know Your Limits

There is no safer water exploration sport than snorkeling. It’s simple, fun, and in most cases, carefully supervised. However, don’t let the safety of snorkeling catch you off guard – there are still plenty of variables involved, and things do go wrong. Moving around during a headcount or panicking because of a blocked snorkel can cause the entire group to stop what they are doing to assist. Take plenty of quick breaks by floating on your back and ask for a pool noodle or snorkel vest if you start to feel anxious about your ability to keep up.

4. Look but Don’t Touch

Never touch the aquatic plants or animals and never bring food into water. These are often more than just etiquette suggestions, many snorkel instructors consider this a crucial rule/restriction that every snorkeler must agree to. Touching the coral or coming into contact with aquatic life can ruin the habitat of thousands of protected species. Underwater ecosystems are extremely fragile. Under no circumstances should a snorkeler interact with the environment unless expressly directed otherwise.

You’ll get the hang of snorkeling in no time at all! Fellow snorkelers are always happy to assist beginners in need, especially those that show they are serious about the sport by treating the rules and traditions with respect. A good grasp of appropriate etiquette principals will ensure that everyone in your group can communicate productively, and that helps everybody have a better time.

This article was written by freelance blog writer – Eliza Sanders. Passionate creative and non-fiction writers with 7 years of Internet writing experience.