Snorkeling (British and Commonwealth English spelling: snorkelling) is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped breathing tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn. Use of this equipment allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods with relatively little effort and to breathe while face-down at the surface.
Snorkeling is a popular recreational activity, particularly at tropicalresort locations. The primary appeal is the opportunity to observe underwater life in a natural setting without the complicated equipment and training required for scuba diving. It appeals to all ages because of how little effort there is, and without the exhaled bubbles of scuba-diving equipment. It is the basis of the two surface disciplines of the underwater sport of finswimming.
Essential equipment includes the snorkel for breathing, and a diving mask or swimming goggles for vision. Swimfins for more efficient propulsion are common. Environmental protection against cold, sunburn and marine stings and scratches is also regionally popular, and may be in the form of a wetsuit, diving skins, or rash vest. Some snorkellers rely on waterproof sunscreen lotions, but some of these are environmentally damaging. If necessary the snorkeller may wear a weightbelt to facilitate freediving, or an inflatable snorkelling vest, a form of buoyancy aid, for safety.