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How Long Can You Stay Underwater with a Snorkel?

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If you’re new to snorkeling, a question you may have is how long can you stay under water with a snorkel?

The quick answer: as long as the snorkel tube is poking out of the water, you can keep your head underwater technically forever! If you want to dive underwater, a snorkel won’t help you and you can only stay underwater for as long as you can hold your breath.

How Long Can You Keep Your Head Underwater with a Snorkel?

If you’re talking about how long you can keep your head underwater whilst snorkeling on the surface, the answer is technically forever!

A snorkel simply pulls the air out of the atmosphere so as long as the snorkel is sticking out of the water, you’ll never run out of air.

If you’re only going to be hanging around on the surface when you snorkel, we recommend a dry snorkel like this one from Amazon. If you plan on doing some freediving too, a semi-dry snorkel like this one is a better option. These snorkels help to keep out water from waves and splashes unlike traditional wet snorkels.

Whilst a snorkel technically allows you to keep your head underwater for as long as you want, there are some important things to consider:

  • Check your surrounding: You need to make sure you regularly lift your head out of the water to check your surroundings. Boats pose a real danger to snorkelers who don’t keep track of where they are, and a current can quickly pull you out to sea.
  • Keep your sunscreen topped up and wear a rash guard: Snorkeling exposes your back to the sun and it can be quite easy to lose track of time when exploring the underwater world. Make sure you keep your sunscreen topped up and a rash guard offers great protection from the sun.

Read more: Do I Need a Rash Guard for Snorkeling

How Long Can I Freedive Underwater with a Snorkel?

Snorkels only allow you to breathe when you’re on the surface of the water and the tube is poking out of the water. So when you freedive with a snorkel, you can only stay underwater for as long as you can hold your breath.

Freediving is a popular activity, but it does pose greater safety risks compared with snorkeling (which has it’s own safety risks too). If you decide to freedive whilst snorkeling, make sure you don’t do it alone and check out guides to freediving like this one from

These guides also teach you how you can train to hold your breath longer.

What About “Snorkeling” Air Tanks?

You might have come across mini air tanks which are often marketed as an easy way for anyone to breathe underwater for up to 10 minutes without proper SCUBA gear or training.

These devices have been heavily criticised by the diving community due to safety concerns. The small capacity could lead to running out of air underwater, and there is the risk of pulmonary barotrauma from breathing in compressed air and rapdily ascending in the water.

If you would like to spend time underwater, it’s much safer to properly SCUBA dive with the correct training and equipment.

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