Snorkeling from a boat

How to snorkel from a boat


Most of the tours we offer include boat travel to get you to the better reefs. So here are some guidelines for snorkeling from a boat:

  • Be on time. One of the annoyances on a join in tour with others is waiting around for people who are late. Normally we will arrange transfer from your resort reception to the pier so please be ready on time. If you have arranged to meet at the marina or pier please arrive a few minutes early. It’s not fair on your fellow passengers to be late and the boat may leave without you.
  • Only take what you need on the boat. Most boats, especially speedboats do not have space for large bags. Backpackers, you do not need to take your full rucksack.
  • Dry bags are very handy, especially if you have electronics. Take a few plastic shopping bags to put wet towels or swimwear in at the end of the day to stop everything in your bag getting damp. A lot of dry bags look the same so it’s a good idea to tag or label your bag in some way.
  • Thinks to take include:
    • Your booking voucher. So the staff can confirm that you are booked and are joining the correct tour. There may be several tours departing at the same time and it’s pretty easy to end up on the wrong one.
    • Sun glasses, Sunscreen, Sunhat
      The sun is very powerful here in Thailand, even on a cloudy day. The water magnifies the sun’s power and even when you are under the boat’s shaded canopy you may still be getting rays reflected up from the water. Sun protection is essential. Many people like to snorkel in a lycra rash vest, an old t-shirt works just as well.
    • Camera
    • Phone. On most day trip excursions you will have mobile phone reception. On the longer liveaboard trips to more remote reefs you may lose signal.
    • A change of dry clothes
    • A towel. Check if your tour provides towels, most day trips do not.
    • Swim wear
    • Beach shoes. Flip flops, thongs, sandals, crocs etc. Simple beach shoes are all you need. Backpackers, leave your hiking boots at the hostel.
    • Money. Check if you will need cash on your tour. Are national park fees included? What about snacks, beers, souvenirs, tips. You will normally just need some loose change in Thai baht. Most boats cannot accept credit cards.
    • Sea sickness medication. It is normally too late to take sea sick prevention pills when you start to feel queasy so think ahead and if you are prone to sea sickness take a pill with breakfast.
  • Most boats have a storage area for your bags. On speedboats that’s often under the seat. Put your bag somewhere it will stay dry and not get trodden on.
  • Listen to the boat briefing and crew introductions. It’s normally pretty informal and can include some info about the area you are visiting and the procedures for entering and exiting the boat. There may also be some signals to learn, like okay or distress or a recall signal.

Snorkeling on the dive boat

Boat to water entries

Speedboat to Racha Yai
Departing from Chalong bay
  • How you enter the water will depend on the type of boat and the location. It is usual to have mask, fins and snorkel in place before you enter the water.
  • If the boat has a rear platform you can simple step off in what is called a giant stride entry.  When you do this you should hold your mask and snorkel in place to avoid them coming off. If you are jumping with a camera hold it above your head with your spare hand. That will reduce the impact and prevent waterproof cases from popping open.
  • The entry procedure from a traditional Thai longtail boat is normally a controlled seated entry from the side. From a RIB you’ll normally do a backward role SEAL style. Speedboat entries can be a combination of these.

Exiting the water into a boat with ladders

  • There are also several options for exiting the water back onto the boat. If there are ladders you should remove your fins/flippers and pass them to a member of the crew who will be there to assist you.
  • Remove fins one at a time. To remove your right fin hold the ladder with your left hand, remove the fin with your right hand then pass it up. Switch handholds on the ladder and repeat for the left side.
  • Keep your mask and snorkel in place to make it easier to remove your fins. If you do want to remove your mask put if around your neck rather than on your forehead where it can easily fall off without you realizing.
  • Once you are back on board the boat make sure that you collect you fins so you know where they are when you need them again later.
  • Be very careful where you place your hands on boat ladders. They are often hinged and the on a moving boat it’s easy for fingers to get caught or squashed.
  • If there is a queue to climb the ladder hang back and to the side in case the climber falls back on you.
  • In choppy conditions with the boat bouncing around a floating rope line may be deployed for you to hold onto at a safe distance from the boat while you remove your fins. Once you have both fins off grasp them together in one hand and use your other hand to pull yourself to the ladder and exit quickly.
  • If a ladder is bouncing up and down wait for the down motion to grab the ladder, don’t get caught underneath.
  • If there is no ladder like on many smaller dinghies you can keep your fins on and use them to kick yourself over the side and in.

In water etiquette

  • If you are snorkeling in a group watch where you are going so you don’t bump into people, or the boat.
  • Stay close enough to the boat to be safe, in the area designated by the crew.
  • Be aware of currents that may be moving you away from the boat.
  • Watch out for other boat traffic.
  • Swim back to the boat when called.
  • Do not feed the fish.
  • Do not touch any marine life, you could hurt yourself and the environment.

On board etiquette

  • Lunch is normally served buffet style. Wait until everyone has eaten before going back for seconds.
  • Don’t throw garbage over board. That includes cigarette butts.
  • Only smoke in designated areas, if any.
  • At the end of the day check that you have all your belongings before you leave the boat.


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