There have been a lot of cool advancements in snorkel technology in recent years. New gear like dry snorkels and masks with purge valves have gone a long way toward increasing both safety and good times for snorkelers of all skillsets.
But, for me, the most fun advents in snorkel technology over the last decade or so don’t have anything to do with the snorkel gear itself, but instead with the technology that the average person can now bring with them into the water.
It used to be that if I wanted to do something like film my adventures while snorkeling, I would have had to invest thousands of dollars in an underwater camera set-up. Now, I can strap on my GoPro or another action camera for a few hundred bucks and capture memories that will last a lifetime while easily sharing them with friends. This was impossible without a lot of effort and cost before not too long ago.
Now, it seems like the next bit of technology that’s far more accessible for the average snorkeler are smartwatches (which probably has you interested if you’re wondering if you can snorkel with an Apple Watch or a similar smartwatch).
It used to be that if I wanted to have something on my wrist that monitored anything having to do with me or my environment in the water, I would have had to spring for an expensive dive watch which itself could run well over $1,000 (and sometimes over $10,000). Now, with the prevalence of mainstream smartwatches, I can always be wearing something much more intelligent for tracking my fitness and environment on my wrist, and at a much more inexpensive cost.
But, smartwatches can still be delicate in certain scenarios, and water is traditionally the enemy of electronics. I definitely want to protect my smartwatch investment and know what’s possible before I do something like snorkel with an Apple Watch, so that brings us to our overarching question…
Can I snorkel with a smartwatch? Yes, you can snorkel with a smartwatch provided that your watch has an appropriate water-resistance rating like the common IP68 rating at 5ATM which typically protects devices in full submersion for up to 30 minutes at 50 meters of depth.
(Note: You’ll soon notice that the IP68 ratings that are found on most modern smartwatches only talk about water-resistance for up to 30 minutes. That 30 minutes is a minimum and based on continuous submersion, so more than likely you wouldn’t need to get out right at 30 minutes of snorkeling on the dot to protect your watch since your watch likely isn’t being continuously submerged (with your wrists exiting the water while swimming and what not) and the water pressure is fairly low at the surface, but the manufacturers don’t officially guarantee anything past that.)
But, how do I know if my smartwatch has the right water-resistance rating? We’ll walk through whether or not it’s possible to snorkel with an Apple Watch specifically (along several other types of smartwatches) below, plus drop a few tips at the end on the right way to snorkel with a smartwatch to avoid damage to both your shiny new gadget and you yourself.
Which Smartwatches Can I Snorkel With?
Whether or not your smartwatch is waterproof and the degree to which it may be waterproof varies a lot by company, watch type and model. So, let’s dive in and look at the key points for each of the most common smartwatches.
Can I Snorkel with an Apple Watch?
The Apple Watch is one of the most popular smartwatches on the planet, so asking if you can snorkel with an Apple Watch is a common question. The answer varies a bit by which “series” of watch you have, and with seven series being released (thus far), there’s plenty to consider. Fortunately, the answer is pretty simple.
Can I snorkel with an Apple Watch? Yes, you can snorkel with an Apple Watch as long as you have a Series 2 watch or higher since the Series 2 and newer Apple Watches have a water-resistance rating of up to 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010, but the Series 1 watch is only splash resistant.
Ultimately, that means that if you have a Series 1 Apple Watch, your watch is only splash resistant and should not be taken snorkeling, but your Series 2 or newer watch is water resistant and may be used for shallow water activities like swimming or snorkeling in a pool or ocean [source].
However, Apple does state that in-water use should be kept to shallow-water activities at low velocity and low pressure if you want to have confidence in the watch seals. This means that swimming and regular shallow snorkeling are in, but scuba diving, water skiing or cliff jumping are out.
If you’re still working with an older Apple Watch (or no smartwatch at all), the Apple Watch Series 7 (here on Amazon) is definitely worth checking out as one of the best fitness- and health-tracker smartwatches available, and it does those things fantastically while snorkeling or swimming.
Can I Snorkel with a Samsung Galaxy Watch?
Samsung has come out with a whole bunch of Galaxy Watch versions over time, but fortunately the answer with Samsung is even simpler than Apple. So…
Can I snorkel with a Samsung Galaxy Watch? Yes, you can snorkel with a Samsung Galaxy Watch since the smartwatch can withstand water pressure equivalent to a depth of 50 meters at full submersion for 30 minutes through its 5ATM And IP68 water-resistance ratings.
That holds true for the Galaxy Fit, Galaxy Fit2, Gear S3, Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch3, Galaxy Watch Active, Galaxy Watch Active2, Galaxy Watch4, and Galaxy Watch4 Classic, Galaxy Watch5, and Galaxy Watch5 Pro according to Samsung [source].
Similar to the Apple Watch, the water integrity of the watch can’t be guaranteed for high-pressure activities (like water skiing) or after big temperature changes (like being in a sauna) or after significant hard drops. But, swimming and snorkeling are on the thumbs-up list.
If you’re an Android phone user, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 (Amazon) is our pick for the best full-on snorkeling smartwatch for Android. It has the required water-resistance to hop in the water, a dedicated snorkeling workout mode to track your fitness exactly as it pertains to your snorkeling-specific exercise, water lock, and a bunch of other useful features for the rest of everyday life.
Can I Snorkel with a Fitbit?
Fitbit is so well-known in the fitness tracker space (since it’s highly regarded as one of the original fitness tracker successes) that many people still use “Fitbit” as a blanket term for all smartwatches. Fortunately, being fitness- and workout-focused from the beginning, Fitbit has a good handle on water resistance.
Can I snorkel with a Fitbit? Yes, all Fitbit models in the Ace, Charge, Flex, Inspire, Ionic, Luxe, Sense, and Versa series except for the original Ace, Charge 1 & 2, and original Flex models are designed to be swim-proof and are rated as water-resistant to 50 meters.
If you’re in the market for a solid fitness tracker but don’t care as much about the extra features of a full-fledged smartwatch (like being able to use different apps, send and receive calls and texts, connect to Bluetooth headphones to play music, etc.), Fitbit has some of the best that work great for snorkeling like its Fitbit Charge 5 (here on Amazon).
Fitbit has also broken into the full smartwatch market with excellent water-resistant, affordable, fitness-first watches like the Fitbit Sense (Amazon), and all of their offerings are worth a look for fitness enthusiasts.
Can I Snorkel with a Garmin Smartwatch?
Garmin is an interesting smartwatch manufacturer in that they have a ton more models of wearables and smartwatches than someone like Apple or Samsung, and they often each have a different focus (e.g., hiking, running, swimming, etc.) or combination of focuses. That makes the question of snorkeling slightly more complicated, but we can still find our way.
Can I snorkel with a Garmin smartwatch? Yes, you can snorkel with a Garmin smartwatch if you have a model that has at least a 5ATM water rating, allowing the watch to withstand water pressures equivalent to a depth of 50 meters and which makes the watch suitable for swimming, diving and snorkeling.
The list of Garmin models that have at least a 5ATM water rating is long, but Garmin has put together a helpful list to allow you to quickly check for your model and avoid having to try to find the documentation that originally came with your watch.
If you’re looking for a super-durable, specialized smartwatch for snorkeling (and plenty else), Garmin has a lot of options ranging from the more-affordable and versatile Garmin Vivoactive 4S (Amazon) all the way up to the super high-end, special-ops (yes, including snorkeling) oriented, solar-charging, night vision-compatible, ballistics-calculating Garmin Tactix Delta Solar (Amazon).
Tips for Snorkeling with a Smartwatch
Now that I have the info I need to be confident that I can snorkel with my Apple Watch, let’s nab a few quick tips on how to make sure snorkeling with a smartwatch is both a fun and safe experience.
1. Use a Wrist Cover for Safety from Aquatic Life
One of the best parts of snorkeling, whether with or without a smartwatch, is the incredible array of marine life that we might come across on any given swim. From the big to the small, whale sharks to sardines, shallow to deep, it’s always a privilege to join marine life in their world while they go about their daily lives.
And, part of daily life for plenty of those animals is being a hunter. It’s part of the circle of life of the oceans, and if we follow certain guidelines (like not swimming with any dangerous animals, keeping a safe distance, etc.), we can have a safe and fun time in the water with fish who eat other fish.
So, why does this matter as far as whether I snorkel with an Apple Watch (or some other smartwatch)? One common trigger that might turn a curious passerby (like a barracuda, which are usually harmless to snorkelers) into an engaged hunter is a flash of light. Many prey fish have scales that reflect light when they move around, which can activate a primal hunting instinct in a lot of marine hunters. And, you guessed it, the surface of your smartwatch is perfect for reflecting light in a way that might look like a struggling fish.
To eliminate that potential misunderstanding, I always wear a wrist cover over my watch when I snorkel with my Apple Watch or something similar. That way, the sun won’t accidentally reflect off of the watch face, clasp, or any other part of my set-up and entice something to come munch on my wrist.
I use the Sexyeye Compression Wrist Sleeves (here on Amazon) which work perfectly for this purpose. They’re inexpensive, made of material (nylon/spandex) that is totally fine to get wet, they’re breathable, and they rinse out easily (which you should do after every trip into the water).
The compression sleeves come in several sizes which you can choose between when ordering. They should be snug on you with your watch on, and if you have smaller-to-average-sized wrists, the large should work well while the extra-large will work well for large-wristers. If they happen to be just a touch too snug, you can also wrap them around a water bottle (or something similar) for a few hours to gain a little extra circumference.
2. Use the Right Wrist Strap
Now that we know that we can safely snorkel with an Apple Watch, etc., we want to actually keep it on our wrist so it doesn’t accidentally come off and sink to the bottom of the sea. The biggest player in that is having the right wrist strap correctly attached to our smartwatch.
There are literally thousands of smartwatch wrist straps here on Amazon, so you have tons to choose from (just make sure that they are the right size for your watch). My recommendation, though, would be to avoid leather, fabric and metal wrist straps and instead use something like silicone that is inherently waterproof. Fabric and leather wrist straps degrade more quickly over time when used in and out of the ocean (and can even become more flexible and less tight in the water), and metal can potentially rust or lose its finish.
Instead, if you use a silicone watch band, you won’t need to worry about degradation or flexing, and instead can just focus on having a good time in the water.
3. Rinse Your Watch After Every Swim
Next, after each time you snorkel with an Apple Watch or your smartwatch of choice, take it off your wrist and rinse it thoroughly with clean tap water before drying it off. Every single time.
Salt water is much more taxing on pretty much everything than fresh water, and that means the components of your smartwatch (including the waterproofing seals) will degrade faster if left to sit with salt water and its residue.
Plus, with the extra organisms naturally found in sea water potentially getting trapped underneath your watch, your wrist might start to get a little smelly if you don’t rinse your watch and wash your wrist. This is good advice for all of your snorkeling gear and snorkeling body parts, really.
(Note: Make sure not to use soap or any cleansers on your smartwatch, however, since they may compromise your water-resistant seals.)
4. Treat Your Watch Properly Outside of the Water
Smartwatch water resistance can diminish over time, and can be especially negatively impacted by dropping the device from great heights or onto hard surfaces, showering with the device daily, hitting it with high-velocity water (like on a wipeout during water skiing), or exposing your watch to things like soap, shampoo, insect repellant, sunscreen, or other foreign substances.
So, pick and choose what you expose your watch to when you’re not snorkeling and your water-resistant seals will be much happier for much longer.
The Deep Dive
Advances in technology like action cameras and smartwatches really can make snorkeling more fun, allowing us to do things like capture underwater memories and keep track of our health, fitness and environment in really high-level ways that cost far, far less than the needed equipment would have even 10 years ago.
That said, we always want to make sure that any device, smartwatches included, have the appropriate water-resistance rating before we dive in with them. If your watch has an IP68 water-resistance rating (or similar) with at least a 5ATM pressure rating, you’re all set to snorkel with your Apple Watch or device of choice for up to 30 minutes (officially) at 50 meters depth, according to the manufacturers.
Then, make sure that you exercise that one bit of watch-related personal safety while snorkeling (using a wrist cover) while also ensuring that you’re using the right straps, giving everything a thorough rinse after you finish your swim, and also taking good care of your watch while out of the water. By using the right equipment and following some simple guidelines, you’ll be able to safely and smartly track your fitness in the ocean just like on land for a long time. It’s amazing how far we’ve come!
First, here are the quick-links to the product pages on Amazon for the main smartwatches that were mentioned:
Next, the “can you snorkel with…” questions are exceedingly popular here at Coral Nomad, so check out some of our other guides on related topics to answer those burning questions: