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Should a Non-Swimmer Wear a Snorkeling Vest?

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Whenever a non-swimmer snorkels, it’s vital that they take the right safety precautions. You might think a snorkeling vest is a great way to keep a non-swimmer afloat and safe when snorkeling. So, should a non-swimmer wear a snorkeling vest?

The short answer: No, it isn’t a good idea for a non-swimmer to wear a snorkeling vest and they should wear a full life jacket instead.

In this guide, we’ll first take a look at why it isn’t the best idea for a non-swimmer to snorkel at all, and taking a few swimming lessons is recommended. Then I’ll explain why a snorkeling vest isn’t suitable for non-swimmers and they should wear a full life jacket instead. Finally, I offer a recommendation for a life jacket to use whilst snorkeling.

It’s a Good Idea to Learn to Swim Before Snorkeling

If you’re planning a trip that involves snorkeling, it’s a good idea to have some swimming lessons and learn to swim first. Even with a life jacket, things can still go wrong in the open ocean. A large wave can still crash over your head and currents can move you around. Being a competent swimmer will put you in a much better position.

If you do decide to snorkel as a non-swimmer, the rest of this post explains why it’s a good idea to wear a full life jacket and not just a snorkeling vest. We also offer our recommendation for a life jacket for snorkeling. You might also want to check out a few more related articles that I have linked to below.

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Snorkeling Vests Are Not a Good Idea for Non-Swimmers

When you snorkel, the idea is to lie flat with your face in the water. Since snorkeling vests are specifically designed for snorkeling, they allow you to do this easily. This is great if you’re a comfortable swimmer and just want some extra buoyancy, but if a non-swimmer finds themself in trouble, they’re going to want the vest to keep them upright with their head out of the water.

So a snorkeling vest really isn’t a good idea for non-swimmers. Instead, we suggest a full life jacket.

We Recommend a Life Jacket for Non-Swimmers

Whilst it is a much better idea to take some swimming lessons before snorkeling in the open ocean, if a non-swimmer does decide to go snorkeling, it’s highly recommended they wear a full life jacket and not just a snorkeling vest.

Unlike a snorkeling vest, a life jacket is designed to keep you upright with your head out of the water. This is exactly what you want if you are a non-swimmer and get into trouble in the water. It is important to note that there are still dangers even if you wear a life jacket. Make sure you avoid rough waters and strong currents and never swim alone.

There is a downside to wearing a life jacket when snorkeling. As I mentioned earlier, when you snorkel, you ideally want to lie flat with your head in the water. A life jacket doesn’t allow you to do this so you will struggle to get your whole face in the water. This is unfortunate, but for a non-swimmer, it really is worth the slightly awkward experience for a much safer experience.

Which Life Jacket Should I Buy?

Life jackets are quite bulky so you might find a better option is to rent one. It’s worth checking that there is somewhere nearby that rent out life jackets, but you shouldn’t have a problem in any popular snorkeling destinations.

If you do decide to buy a life jacket, the O’Neill SuperLite Life Vests have great reviews on Amazon. They are USCG approved and wearers have had positive experiences when snorkeling. (The Links below will take you to Amazon.)

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