How Long Can You Stay Underwater With A Snorkel?

Spend a few minutes admiring the gorgeous views from down below and you won’t want to leave the water. In fact, you’ll want to stay under for as long as possible each time you go snorkeling.

So you’re probably wondering exactly how long you’ll be able to stay under the deep blue sea when you’re geared up.

How Long Can You Stay Underwater With A Snorkel?

Once you’re fully submerged it will depend on how long you can hold your breath. For most people that will be roughly a few minutes if you’re willing to put in the effort to expand your lung capacity. With the right snorkel you can stay underwater all day.

But things start to get a little more complicated when you look at different types of snorkels available to you today. Let’s look at them in order of their effectiveness:

  1. Dry Snorkels
  2. Semi-Dry Snorkels
  3. Traditional Snorkels (J-Type)

1 – Dry Snorkels

You’ll find dry snorkels on all the best full face snorkel masks that have burst onto the scene over the last few years. The Wildhorn mask below is a perfect example.

WildHorn Outfitters Seaview 180 Degree Panoramic Snorkel Mask- Full Face Design,Panoramic Navy Blue/Gray,Large/Extra Large (Renewed)
Packed full of amazing technology.

Dry snorkels come with a valve at the top which prevents water from getting inside, even when you’re completely submerged. If anything does trickle inside there is a purge valve at the bottom to expel water before it goes anywhere near your mouth.

There are also long dry snorkels that look like traditional ones, which come in handy when you’re scuba diving. Full face snorkel masks are great when you’re snorkeling, but there are better options when deep diving.

2 – Semi-Dry Snorkels

I’m sure you know by now a semi-dry snorkel sits somewhere in the middle. Unlike J-Type snorkels there is a splash guard sitting on the top designed to stop splashes of water from falling inside your breathing tube.

Unfortunately, they will still have a negative impact on how long you’ll be able to stay under the water for two reasons:

  • When you’re fully submerged
  • When there are big waves

When you’re fully submerged – If you decide to dive under the water to get closer to that large praying mantis a semi-dry snorkel will fill up in seconds. At the very least you’re going to feel uncomfortable.

When there are big waves – The same thing applies when there are big waves. A splash guard isn’t going to stop Mother Nature from ramming down the tube of your snorkel directly towards your mouth.

You will be closer to the surface to blow everything out, but it’s going to lead to fatigue. Surprisingly, fatigue will have an impact on how long you can stay underwater if you plan on spending lots of time in the ocean.

3 – Traditional Snorkels (J-Type)

We’ve all seen J-Type snorkels before. They don’t stop any water from pouring inside. They don’t have a purge valve to help you expel it.

Water will be able to come in from both ends. At least they’re cheap.

How Can You Breathe Underwater With A Snorkel Easily?

If you really want to maximize the time you’ll be able to spend underwater there are a couple of things to focus on. The first one is using a full face snorkel mask thanks to the following:

  • Breathe using your mouth and nose
  • Your jaw won’t become fatigued
  • You don’t have to worry about the breathing tube

Breathe using your mouth and nose – The first time you went snorkeling with a traditional snorkel it probably felt uncomfortable. It’s because you’re only able to breathe through your mouth.

Quality traditional snorkel masks are wonderful in their own special ways, but your nose is completely blocked off. If you don’t appreciate how much of an impact it has try doing a little test.

Pinch your nose and see how long you can breathe through your mouth alone. Is it possible? Sure, but it’s easy to see why being able to breathe through your mouth and nose will let you stay under for longer.

Your jaw won’t become fatigued – If you wear a full face snorkel mask you won’t need to jam something into your mouth. You don’t have to squeeze onto a mouthpiece tightly to avoid drowning in salt water.

After a while basic snorkels will start to hurt your jaw. You’ll become so fatigued you won’t be able to keep the water out. Once that happens you won’t be able to spend much time under the water without coming up for a break.

You don’t have to worry about the breathing tube – The breath tube on a full face snorkel mask is part of the mask itself. When you’re swimming around with your head underwater you don’t need to worry about it flapping around.

Standalone snorkels are the exact opposite. They are obviously designed to be held in place, but if for any reason they come loose you’ll need to reach for the surface straight away.

Please Note: If you have a big bushy beard these kinds of masks aren’t great because you’ll not be able to achieve a good seal.

A Few Other Ways To Stay Underwater For Longer

There are also a few little things you can use to stay under the water for longer. We’ll look at each one in a bit detail now:

  1. Wear snorkeling fins
  2. Know your limits
  3. Using a good mask

Wear snorkeling fins – Once you’re fully submerged you can’t really spend a lot of time deep under the water where most of the action is. You need to be careful about how close you are to the surface so you can come up for air.

But you can spend a lot longer among the fish and flora by wearing the best snorkeling fins. That’s because you’ll be able to reach the surface much quicker when you need air.

Longer and rigid fins will let you move quicker as opposed to shorter and wider bodyboarding fins.

Wildhorn Topside Snorkel Fins- Compact Travel, Swim, and Snorkeling Flippers for Men and Women. Revolutionary Comfort on Land and Sea.
Wildhorn Topside fins are popular among snorklers.

Know your limits – You must do everything you can to prevent yourself from panicking or you won’t last long under the sea, so learning your limits quickly is important.

Some creatures look majestic when you’re a few feet away from them, but that level of proximity will scare a lot of people. If you can avoid panicking you’ll be able to stay under for longer.

Using a good mask – A snorkel helps you breathe underwater but the specific mask you use is hugely important too. Cheap masks don’t usually form a tight seal to your face and water can leak inside.

If you can’t see anything thanks to the water in your eyes it’s pointless being underwater. Some cheaper masks fog up pretty quickly too, so stick to good ones that use anti-fog technology.

Mini Scuba Diving Cylinders Come In Handy

When you try to stay underwater as long as possible you might find yourself in situations where you’re gasping for air. Mini oxygen tanks like the SMACO are becoming popular at the moment even among snorkeling fanatics.

SMACO Scuba Diving Tank Equipment, Mini Scuba Dive Cylinder with 5-10 Minutes Capability, 0.5 Litre Capacity with Refillable Design, Portable Pony Bottle for Emergency Backup
Stay underwater for an extra few minutes.

If you love pushing things to the extreme it might be worth having just in case. They are tiny compared to normal scuba tanks and will give you a few extra minutes of air. Just long enough to finish taking your underwater photos or shooting your underwater video.

Breathing Exercises To Stay Underwater Longer

There are hundreds of ways you’ll be able to train yourself to stay underwater for longer while fully submerged, but we’re only going to look at a couple of basic exercises you can do anywhere.

One will build up your lungs ability to hold more oxygen. The other will help your body deal with higher levels of carbon dioxide in your system.

Exercise 1 – Oxygen

Hold your breath for 1:00 then breathe for 1:00
Hold your breath for 1:05 then breathe for 1:00
Hold your breath for 1:10 then breathe for 1:00

And keep repeating while slowly holding your breath for longer each time.

Exercise 2 – Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Hold your breath for 1:00 then breathe for 2:00
Hold your breath for 1:00 then breathe for 1:45
Hold your breath for 1:00 then breathe for 1:30

And keep repeating while slowly lowering the amount of time you breathe after each breath hold.

How Long Can You Stay Underwater With A Snorkel?

Hopefully we’ve thoroughly answered your question today. When unsubmerged you should be able to hold your breath indefinitely if you have the right equipment.

If you’re fully submerged the average person can easily build up the capacity to hold their breath for at least a few minutes. Even Tom Cruise learned to hold his breath for 6 minutes.