The short answer to this questions is: Yes, you can snorkel in the rain, at least most of the time. However, depending on the amount of rain and additional weather conditions, it may be better to avoid snorkeling. Let’s tell you all about it.
In a nutshell, rain on itself won’t be a problem most of the time. The thing to understand, is that rain drops don’t make it far down once they hit the ocean surface. Only in shallow waters there could be a minor impact.
When snorkeling, you face down onto the ocean floor, or at least sideways towards a reef for example. However, most of the time you’re busy exploring the marine life below you. Therefore, when it rains, chances are you won’t even notice it from your own view.
One reason to maybe postpone snorkeling is a combination of heavy rain and shallow water. Even so, as long as there’s enough to explore below you, you should be fine. Beginners might want to skip these weather conditions, especially if you want to snorkel without being able to swim.
Rain And Clouds
Since clouds are a whole lot of tiny rain drops combined, whenever it rains, there could be clouds too. The questions is, do they block your sunlight?
As soon as clouds block the sun, we experience a darker daylight. If you’re snorkeling, this can have a major impact on your visibility. Therefore, shouldn’t we be more concerned about clouds than rain?
In a way, yes! Snorkeling is all about visibility, and like we said, rain doesn’t have a big impact on that. Clouds do however. Especially if they fill up the sky completely!
Therefore, if you’re snorkeling in the rain, combined with (a lot of) clouds, snorkeling will most likely be a disappointment.
Winds And Currents
Ocean currents are influenced by gravity, wind, and water density. Let’s say you consider to snorkel on a rainy day, and even though it might be sunny out there, what about currents?
If it’s windy, currents will most likely be stronger than usual. Besides, did you know that currents have a horizontal and vertical movement? They can really make the difference between a fun and an impossible oceanic swim.
Strong currents will lift and mix the sand that covers most of the ocean floors. A blurry vision and maybe even irritating sand particles are what you could expect. Therefore, avoid snorkeling when currents are strong. If you’re uncertain, ask a lifeguard, or check for any available information about the climate. Flags or other warning signs must not be ignored in order to avoid danger.
When considering to snorkel in the rain, one important thing to understand is your location. We wrote a few articles about tropical locations, like snorkeling in Maui, snorkeling in Kauai and snorkeling in Punta Cana for example. Most of us choose these areas because of the lovely temperatures and the brilliant marine life. However, one of their downsides is unexpected heavy rain.
If you know a little bit about the weather, and if rain is combined with storms or clouds, why not wait a little? Usually these rainstorms don’t last too long. Who knows after just a couple of hours the sea will be calm with even a good amount of sunshine. Under normal circumstances you’ll notice that many people just continue snorkeling, because they know the rain will be over soon.
We’ve been to the Mediterranean sea a few times, and even though it was summer, there were a couple of rainy days. Sometimes it even rained until late in the afternoon. That’s why we usually skip snorkeling and try to find something else to do. The weather forecast, and our own experience, usually makes it an easy decision.
Rivers And Mud
Don’t underestimate how surrounding areas can affect snorkeling as well. Often we’re surrounded by beaches, but what if a nearby river is connected to your bay? Rivers often have a muddy bottom. Therefore, heavy rain could facilitate this mud to enter your snorkel location.
Besides that, how about any other surrounding landscapes. Do they contain grass or mud for example? Could heavy rain create a stream of dark water towards your snorkel location? Something to keep in mind. Costa Rica would be a good example of how rain and mud affect your underwater sight when snorkeling directly off the beach.
Turbid water, either from currents or muddy water streams, will have an impact on your sight. So even though you could in fact go snorkeling, is it really worth it under these conditions? Even though full face snorkel masks provide a wider vision, they won’t do the trick under these circumstances.
Heavy storms with extreme winds and dark clouds are definitely not worth snorkeling in. Besides that, it’s not safe either. So avoid entering the water whenever they occur. Again, ask a lifeguard in case you’re uncertain.
The extreme currents of a storm will not only make your vision blurry. They can just as well move you in any direction. Swimming against a strong current will exhaust you, with all possible dangers as a result. If you ask yourself “is snorkeling easy?“, well, definitely not at any given time.
Obviously, kids with smaller muscles and less practice should avoid any possible danger whatsoever. We wrote a long article about snorkeling with kids. If you’re interested, here’s the link: “The Giant Guide For Snorkeling With Kids“.
When snorkeling, we want to take a glimpse at fish, corals, reefs, you name it. For the best possible experience we need a little sunlight to facilitate that, preferably a whole lot of it.
Whenever sunlight hits the water surface, it travels down quite a bit, and if you’re lucky it even hits the ocean floor. Under clear and calm conditions, sunlight is able to travel up to 650 feet in depth, more than enough for snorkeling. In other words, calm sunny days will usually result in great underwater adventures, even if it rains. As long as there is light.
As the earth turns, the position of the sun “seems” to change. Therefore, any reefs or mountains could cause shadows throughout the day. Take that into consideration as well. Remember, light makes or breaks your snorkel day.
To continue on light, how about photography. Do you plan to bring your GoPro for some new underwater footage? If that’s your main goal for the day, rain will not cause a problem. It’s the clouds and any other shadows you want to avoid.
Tip: If you’re curious about underwater video or photography, make sure to read our “Giant Guide For Snorkeling With A GoPro“. We made sure to pack it with a bunch of tips and tricks.
Do Fish Like Rain?
Maybe “like” is not the best word to use, but sometimes the rain can make them leave their shelter. Which is great for us snorkelers.
Often in summertime, water starts to lack dissolved oxygen. Especially in hot climates. As soon as rain hits the ocean surface, this surface is mixed with fresh air (also called aeration). Fish love that! Not only because of the fresh air, but also because it cools them down a little. Summer can be hot, even for fish.
In other words, rain can enhance your snorkel experience in hot climates. Just make sure to remember everything we talked about in this article. Beautiful fish are not worth taking any risks. Maybe you want to finally spot that yellowtail or black and white fish species you read about online. Remind yourself: Always stay safe!
Snorkeling in the rain is definitely possible as long as the weather conditions are comfortable. The rain will only affect the top layer of the ocean, which should be out of your snorkel sight.
As soon as clouds arrive and it gets darker, your visibility will decrease, which makes snorkeling in the rain less fun. You may want to wait for the clouds to disappear, or who knows some sunshine will find it’s way towards you anyway. If you’re scared to snorkel, just be patient and wait for some sunshine.
When rain is accompanied by winds and currents you have to be careful. The water will be blurry and possible danger lies ahead. Especially when storms arrive. Avoid snorkeling under these conditions. Not just because of the turbid water, but most of all for your own safety.
To avoid any risks, always ask a local lifeguard if it’s safe to snorkel. Keep an eye on the weather conditions at all times, stay close to the shore, and never snorkel alone.