Snorkeling is not for the claustrophobic and I'm a bit claustrophobic. Nothing puts me over the edge faster than the thought of being underwater and breathing. Just thinking about it gives me the "willies." It's true, just now a big shiver went up my back. So planning snorkeling trips in Hawaii, later in the Caribbean, back again to Hawaii, again in Mexico kind of creeps me out thinking about it, even though I love doing it.
Before my first trip I donned gear and tried it in a pool. I couldn't do it. I tried just walking around out of the water breathing through the tube and other than hyperventilating until I was dizzy, I was fine. Put my face in the water and I was lost - choking, gasping, panicking.
So I wasn't terribly hopeful that it was going to work out when I actually got to the big, wide ocean where I couldn't touch and there was nothing to grab onto... it gave me more than a few nightmares. I waded in waist deep, put my face in, gulped frantic breaths of air, panicked - but I kept trying and then, out of nowhere a huge "flock" of fish swirled around me, then swam slowly away and I followed them. They were so beautiful and serene and I couldn't stop watching them... three hours later I was getting hungry!
Once I started fish-watching, I never thought about how scared I was, never thought about breathing through the tube, nothing! It was just an incredible world under there.
I've snorkeled St. Martin island, Maui several times, Mexico several times and every time I get nervous thinking about it, but once I'm in that quiet, amazing world following tangs, angels, parrot fish, puffers, sea turtles, I'm completely relaxed. You should try it some time.