i know you've seen the pictures of me snorkeling and you probably think i'm experienced...but the first time i ever tried it was last winter in jamaica...and i was hooked! i grew up with a fear of the water and never learned to swim until i was older and never very well. i cannot dive, swim underwater or even jump into the water without holding my nose!

when my "waterbaby" husband suggested snorkeling last vacation, the thought did not appeal to me immediately. the only reason i agreed was that the water was warm and i could wear a vest. i made him take me to the swimming pool with our gear to teach me before i would even go in the sea. it was pretty comical and i was more than a little embarassed to have anyone watching me practice...but i gathered up my nerve and after a few instructions, i waded into the pool, adjusted the mask and snorkel and started to float face down. it took me less than 15 seconds to get the hang of it. i stood up after a minute or so and said..."OK...i can do this...let's go!"

once in the ocean, i was a little less confident, but it only took a few more minutes to start to relax and enjoy myself. it was so amazing to discovering a new world i didn't know was awesome! i came up smiling and laughing and excited...over and over...and i couldn't get enough of seeing what i was seeing.

if you aren't a strong swimmer, you might want to invest in an inflatable vest. i got one this year and it was wonderful for me...just the extra security made the experience so much more enjoyable. i've also been able to snorkel without a vest for brief periods...i can float really well...but still prefer a vest, especially when the water is choppy or i know i'm going to be out for awhile.

a very good place to practice is at ramon's pier. you can step down into the water from the dock there. the water is clear and inviting and you are in a protected area. a friend of mine tried snorkeling there for her very first time when we were took her several minutes to get into it...but she ended up having the time of her life too!

one more bit of advice...invest in your own snorkel and mask. get one that fits well and feels comfortable...and get a "dry" snorkel. you won't be sorry...and you WILL use it many more times!!

can't wait to hear all about your first time!!