A snorkeling adventure to the far-flung corners of the globe is a bucket-list trip for many. This amazing experience to explore pristine reef ecosystems brings you beneath the water’s surface to discover an entirely new world, and what you pack can make all the difference. You might think slipping into a swimsuit and slapping on some sunscreen is all you need for your trip, but there are specific items you’ll want to pack. Here are some of our most requested and recommended to make your next snorkeling adventure unforgettable.

Photo courtesy of savethereef.org

1. Reef-safe sunscreen

Not all sunscreen is created equal and up until recently, the vast majority of sunblock brands contained ingredients known to harm coral reefs. Opt for reef-safe brands—one of our Pacific Specialists recommends Raw Elements, but there are many to choose from including All Good, Alba, and even the classic Coppertone has reef-safe options. Just be sure its main ingredient is either zinc oxide or titanium oxide and does not contain Oxybenzone or Octinoxate (two ingredients that have been linked to disrupting the corals’ reproductive cycles and causing coral bleaching). 

2. Reef-safe toiletries

Before you grab your favorite shampoo or facewash, scan the ingredients. You could be putting more harmful chemicals in the water during your stay. Reef-safe toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, face cream, and even eco-friendly toothpaste tabs are available online and in some stores. As one of our travelers put it, “If we don’t go green, we can’t expect our oceans to stay blue.”

3. Physical sun protection

A hat and sunglasses may be a no-brainer of what to pack for your snorkeling expedition, but also consider a rashguard while you’re in the water—eliminating the need to reapply after a couple of hours—and a bandana to protect your neck while you kayak. Some travelers have also brought kayaking gloves depending on the amount of time you spend exploring above the water’s surface on our trips to Palau and the Galápagos, as well as socks to protect your ankles (and to easily slip into your fins).

4. Seasickness remedies

Depending on your sea legs, a seasickness remedy—either medication or pressure-point wristbands—is great to have with you on your water-based adventures. Our expert Trip Leaders and boat staff are also very accommodating and will make you feel as comfortable as possible during your trip.

5. Underwater camera

Colorful fish, vibrant coral fans, and a dazzling array of unique marine species are on display during our snorkeling trips and it’s always a good idea to keep an underwater camera handy for those serendipitous moments. There is a wide range of underwater cameras to choose from—from professional cameras with special underwater housing to simple, point-and-shoot cameras. No matter your level of photography skills, just remember to bring extra memory cards, batteries, and charging equipment so you’re not left stranded without any photos of your trip! Our Trip Leaders have experience with underwater cameras and are a great resource during your snorkeling adventure.

6. Snorkel masks and fins

Most of our snorkeling trips are equipped with masks and fins, however, if you wish to bring your own, we recommend brands like Cressi and Scuba Pro for their wide range of products for all levels of snorkelers. And speaking of masks, remember to pack some mask defogger, especially for those who want an alternative solution to the spit method.

7. Soft-sided luggage

This is especially important if you are embarking on a boat-based snorkeling trip like our classic Snorkeling Raja Ampat journey because most luggage will need to be stored in your room’s cabinet. We highly recommend soft-sided luggage for these instances when you’ll need to compress your bag to fit in small spaces.

8. Coconut oil

Though not a need-to-have item, we recommend coconut oil for travelers with long hair. Here’s what our Pacific Specialists advises, “I usually put a tiny amount of coconut oil in my hair before I go in the water and it is a huge help, otherwise my hair is a tangled mess when I get out of the ocean.”

We provide a detailed packing list for every snorkeling adventure as well as a list of recommended items so you can be confident that you’ll be prepared for the journey ahead. Have questions about our snorkeling trips or where to go? Check out our blog about 10 FAQs about snorkeling here.

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