How Long Can You Breathe Underwater With a Full Face Snorkel Mask?

Summer is here or maybe you have just booked a winter getaway to the warm/tropical climate of Australia north! No matter the occasion, a common question we get here at Reef Masks is how long can you snorkel underwater with a full face snorkel mask? The answer to this question depends on a lot of factors such as the quality of the full face mask, the conditions of the ocean, is it warm or cold waters, your overall fitness, the size of your face mask and your swimming level. Being prepared and doing appropriate research before you go snorkelling is strongly advised by the team here at Reef Mask, ensuring your comfort and safety can make a huge difference in your snorkelling experience.

How Long Can You Breathe Underwater With a Full Face Snorkel Mask?

How Long Can You Snorkel Underwater Depends on Mask Quality

What kind of full-face snorkel mask you have, plus the overall quality will make a huge difference in your underwater experience. If you use an old, traditional snorkel, you will be able to stay underwater for as long as you can hold your breath, which for most of us isn't long! Once out of breath you will need to return to the surface and expel the water from the breathing tube. Full face snorkels cover the head and face, with a recommendation of only 2 minutes spent diving underwater.  The majority of people spend most of their time floating on top of the water, peering down onto the ocean bed. A full-face snorkel is ideal for this but is warned that ocean conditions can play a factor in the overall experience. Wavy and choppy water can lead to water getting overtop and into the breathing tube, this can cause panic and dangerous situations.

A full-face snorkel has a dry top that stops water from entering the breathing tube, this is done via a floating ball that seals the valve once the tube goes underwater. If large waves are crashing over the top then the ball valve won't lock and water can enter, so it's best to only go out snorkelling in calm waters.

How Long Can You Snorkel Underwater Depends on Weather

Weather and water conditions play a major factor in how long you can use a full face snorkel underwater. If the weather is bad with choppy, cold waters and strong currents, it's probably best to avoid going snorkelling all together! This is especially true for kids who are using a full face snorkel. Your health and fitness level is also another strong factor. When you first start snorkelling you may need some time to get used to the sensation and build aerobic endurance. The team at Reef Mask always recommend that you listen to your mind & body, any discomfort, pain or fear, remove the face mask and return to shore.

When snorkelling with a full face snorkel there can be a desire to dive downward and join the sea life you're observing. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of snorkelling and something you should definitely try if you're new to snorkelling. Remember that if you are using a full face snorkel that you should only dive underwater for 2 - 3 minutes and once returning to the surface ensure the ball seal has returned to unblocking the breathing valve.

Get The Proper Wetsuit

If you are snorkelling in cold waters it's super important that you have the correct wetsuit. There are multiple designs and styles of wetsuits, with some being designed for cold and others warm waters! A thick full-body wetsuit will ensure your body temperature stays at a normal level, stopping hypothermia from occurring.

If you have never worn a wetsuit before it might take a few sessions to get used to the feeling. This will soon pass and the wetsuit will feel just like the second layer of skin.


How long you can snorkel underwater with a full face snorkel mask depends on a number of factors, the quality and fit of your face mask, the weather conditions, currents & swell, your snorkelling experience, how comfortable you are in the water and your overall fitness level. In most cases, we don't recommend diving underwater for any more than 2 minutes with a full face snorkel. Even if you are an experienced snorkeler who is going out in perfect conditions, we don't recommend diving for more than 2 minutes. Remember, snorkels are designed to be used floating above the water, with only limited time to be spent actually underwater.



Author Bio:

John - Manager at Reef Mask 

Passionate about the ocean & its beauty, John has been a passionate Snorkeler for over 10 years. Educating people on snorkelling techniques and equipment.