So you're going snorkeling? Nice! Don't forget to bring your GoPro. This is what they were made for – high resolution, underwater video. In this post, you'll learn how to use your GoPro snorkeling – plus the mounts, settings, and tips you need to get amazing footage.
More about how to use a GoPro underwater
GoPro Snorkeling Guide
Snorkeling is a great way to explore the underwater world and it’s an activity that just about anyone can enjoy. So if you’re planning on snorkeling anytime soon, why not capture everything on your GoPro … and make your underwater adventures last forever?
GoPro cameras are perfect for those that love snorkeling. They’re some of the best underwater cameras on the market and you’ll be able to capture some truly incredible high definition pictures and videos.
But before you plunge your GoPro into the ocean, here are some tips to help you capture the best possible footage and photos while snorkeling.
- Best GoPro for Snorkeling (jump to section)
- 12 GoPro Snorkeling Tips (jump to section)
- 7 GoPro Snorkeling Gear and Accessories (jump to section)
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Best GoPro for Snorkeling: Hero8 Black
Thanks to the waterproof housing for the older GoPro models, any GoPro camera is going to work as a high quality underwater camera. But if you want your underwater footage and photos to be as clear and high quality as possible, you’ll want to know which GoPro has the best underwater capabilities.
But if you don’t want to bother with a housing, the Hero7 and Hero8 are both waterproof without a case down to 10m. Both of these GoPros also have image stabilization, so even if you’re filming while swimming, your footage should be fairly smooth.
The Hero8 is perhaps slightly more suited to underwater filming and photography because of its auto underwater white balance and better image stabilization.
Here’s a video that shows the difference between the GoPro Hero 5 and Hero 6 underwater, so you can decide for yourself whether you think the Hero 6 is worth paying slightly more for:
What about snorkeling with the GoPro Max? We’d recommend steering clear of the GoPro Max, as whilst it may be an impressive camera, it’s not too great underwater.
If you already have a Max camera, you can still use it underwater, as it is waterproof. But because it’s a 360-degree camera, the water can interfere with the viewing angles, meaning that the two lenses don’t quite stitch up correctly.
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12 GoPro Snorkeling Tips
1. Use burst mode for still photos
Underwater photos can be impressive and provide a great snapshot of life underwater. But capturing the perfect underwater shot can be hard, especially if the water is causing you to bob up and down.
Set your GoPro to burst mode, and when you press the button to take a picture, rather than just one picture, your GoPro will capture 30 pictures in one second.
Why would you want 30 pictures of the same shot? So that you can choose the best one later! The chances are that you’re not going to look at your photos and videos until you’re out of the water, so shooting in burst mode means you’ll have more chance of capturing a few clear and quality pictures.
When you take just one picture at a time, your shots are inevitably affected by shake, regardless of how steady you tried to be. And shake can cause blurriness. So shoot in burst mode, and you’ll reduce shake, and have multiple pictures to choose from.
2. Use lens filters to enhance the color
When shooting underwater, the water has a tendency to make the color of your photos look washed out or faded. Filters can be used to bring color back into your underwater shots.
Filters are also a cheaper and easier alternative to using lights. Just remember not to use both filters and lights, otherwise you’ll have some very red or magenta footage.
Red filters are used in blue water and magenta filters should be used in green water. Don’t worry though, this isn’t going to make your photos and videos look weirdly red/magenta. Instead, it’s just going to help your GoPro more accurately set the white balance.
The following video shows just how much a color correcting filter can improve your footage:
3. Stock up on anti-fog inserts
GoPros may be waterproof but they still fog up from time to time when being used underwater. If you’re using a GoPro that requires a waterproof housing, like the Hero4, you’ll want to stop them fogging up with condensation when the camera warms up. This’s a simple fix, you just need some anti-fog inserts.
You can pick these up fairly cheaply online, or if you need a quick fix you could always make some makeshift anti-fog inserts at home. All they are is silica gel inserts that you can insert into your GoPro’s housing to soak up any moisture. But if you want to make your own, you can always use paper towels, folded to fit in your GoPro’s housing.
Learn more about your cameras capability in our GoPro Waterproof Guide for all models.
4. Get some stationary shots and different angles
It’s tempting to strap your GoPro to your head or snorkel mask and leave it to film your whole snorkeling experience, but this is just going to leave you with a lot of footage that looks the same.
Point-of-view footage can be great to include in your snorkel videos, but you don’t want that to be all your videos are. This is just going to leave you with a lot of footage that’s simply looking directly down, with no variation of angles, or close-ups. POV footage can also be quite shaky, which reduces image quality.
Try out some shots and videos from a stationary perspective and you’ll be able to capture some clearer stills, and footage from unique angles.
5. Use a dome port
Some of the most effective snorkeling shots are half under and half above water. But if you’ve ever tried getting this effect with just your GoPro, you’ll know that you can’t really capture this type of shot without additional accessories, namely, the dome port.
The dome port is just a big transparent dome that attaches to your GoPro, putting distance between your GoPro’s lens and the water.
With this accessory you’ll be able to capture classic half-underwater videos and stills, and you won’t have to worry about water droplets on the lens.
Here’s a video demonstrating just how incredible your underwater footage can look with a dome port:
6. Fit in some shots of your underwater self
Getting close-up shots of the underwater wildlife is what GoPro snorkeling is all about, but don’t forget to get some pictures of yourself on your snorkeling adventure too!
Clips involving people can add variation to your videos and put the underwater world into perspective. By including yourself in some videos, those who watch it are going to feel like they’ve come along on your snorkeling journey too. Plus, you’ll come away from your snorkeling trip with some great pictures for your social media.
7. The best resolution and frame rate settings
For snorkeling footage that you don’t plan on editing too much, 30fps is a good frame rate to go for and to use as your default. At this frame rate, most GoPros will be able to film in 4K, so you can expect some top quality footage.
Should you film snorkel videos at 4K resolution? While you can film at this super high resolution, I'm not sure that it's necessary. Super high resolution footage (like 4K) has a limited use and eats up your storage space – on your SD card and your hard drive.
I recommend either 1080P or 2.7K, depending on the planned use.
But if you plan on slowing down any of your footage during the editing process, you’ll need to film at a higher frame rate, and drop your resolution to 1080p.
8. The best color settings
If you plan on using a red or magenta filter, it’s easier to film using the standard ‘GoPro Color’ setting, rather than Protune flat. With Protune flat the colors are washed-out looking, because the idea is that you edit your footage and photos post-production, and bring back the color during that phase. So if you shoot in Protune flat with a color filter as well, your footage will likely look too red or magenta.
So if you’re using a color filter, GoPro Color is best, but if you’d rather use Protune flat, it's better to go without a color filter.
9. Avoid water droplets
If you’ve used your GoPro while snorkeling before, you’ll understand the struggle of water droplets ruining your shots. Water droplets on your lens can blur the clarity of your photos and videos, so you want to avoid water droplets as much as possible.
Kind of like this…
If you’re constantly shooting underwater, this won’t be so much of an issue, but if you plan on getting some half-submerged shots, or above water footage, that’s when droplets start to get annoying.
So if you want crystal clear footage and photos of your snorkeling adventures, there are a few different ways you can stop water droplets once and for all.
The easiest way is to simply lick your GoPros lens. Sounds a little crazy, right? But it works! Just lick the lens of your GoPro, and wipe down across the lens afterwards. This will help water droplets to slide off, rather than stick to the lens. The only trouble with this method of avoiding water drops is that you’ll need to do it fairly regularly, which can be tricky and downright annoying if your GoPro is mounted out of reach.
Another, more effective way to avoid water droplets is to coat your lens or housing with Rain-X. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s what’s used on car windscreens to help the rain slide off more easily, and it’s actually recommended by GoPro for use with GoPro cameras.
One coating will last a little while, and for a number of uses, so it’s often a preferred method to licking the lens (a technique that can make you look a little strange).
10. Attach a ‘floaty’
GoPros may be waterproof, but they don’t float – at least not on their own. And the last thing you want is to capture incredible underwater footage, only to drop your GoPro and lose it to the ocean.
So if you want to keep your GoPro safe, visible and within easy reach, attach a floaty to it. The GoPro floaty is a flotation accessory that you can easily attach to the back of your GoPro, so that if you happen to drop it underwater, it’s going to bob safely to the surface. The floaty is also a bright orange color, so you’re definitely not going to lose sight of it.
11. Get close, but respect marine life!
GoPros aren’t really able to zoom, and the wide angle lens often makes things look further away than they actually are. So if you want detailed shots and footage of the beautiful underwater world and marine life, you’ll need to get fairly close up.
That being said though, you don’t want to disturb or harm the marine life. So keep a bit of distance between you and them. The chances are that your GoPro won’t be able to focus on anything that’s within 12 inches anyway, so use 12 inches as a guideline for how close you can get. A selfie stick is a great way to get a little closer to the wildlife.
12. Keep your GoPro on and filming when underwater
When you’re snorkeling, you never know when you’re about to see something amazing. And if your GoPro isn’t already set up and filming, who knows what could swim by before you’ve even powered on your GoPro?
So to avoid missing some spectacular sights, keep your GoPro rolling while you’re snorkeling! You may need to pack a few extra batteries, or bring a portable charger, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
7 Best GoPro Accessories For Snorkeling
While none of these are required, they will help create better photos and videos. And make it easier too. Let's get started.
The dome port is one of the best accessories for filming and photographing your snorkeling adventures. You’ll be able to capture some great half-submerged shots, and you won’t have as much trouble with water droplets covering your GoPro’s lens.
2. Transparent extendable GoPole
Extendable selfie sticks are always going to come in handy. With this accessory you can capture shots of both yourself and your surroundings from up high, down low, from the side – there are so many different angle possibilities.
But what makes this accessory even more appealing to snorkelers than the regular extendable selfie stick is the fact that it’s transparent.
This means you can capture professional footage and photos, without the pole invading your shot. People won’t be able to see the pole, so you’ll have them wondering how you managed to capture such a unique shot.
3. GoPro snorkeling mask
Rather than wearing both a head mount and a snorkel mask, it makes sense to combine the two and wear a snorkel mask that can mount a GoPro.
4. Floatable hand grip
You may want to get some handheld footage as you swim. This can give you more control over your GoPro, as you’ll be able to see exactly what you’re filming. But if you’re going to get a handheld grip for your GoPro to use whilst snorkeling, it’s best to get a floatable one.
The floaty is a must-have accessory for anyone planning on using their GoPro in water. It can be easily attached to any GoPro with a self-adhesive sticker and it will keep your GoPro from sinking if you drop it. Note: This floaty is only for GoPro's that use an additional waterproof case.
For the newer GoPro models, that don't require a case (Hero5 and Hero6) there is a great floaty case by Bodhi. It just slips over the camera
Underwater lens filters can improve the accuracy of color in your underwater videos. If you’re swimming in blue waters you’ll need a red color filter, and if you’re swimming in green waters you’ll need a magenta color filter.
These filters enable your GoPro to automatically adjust the white balance more accurately.
Make sure to get the right filter for your camera. Filters for the Super Suit Housing or Direct Mount
GoPros get a little warm after they’ve been filming for a while and when this happens, it causes the waterproof housing to fog up a little. The humidity inside the case condenses on the inside of the housing – ruining your footage.
Obviously you don’t want foggy footage or photos, so a simple fix is to stock up on anti-fog inserts. These can be slotted into your GoPro’s housing to absorb the moisture.
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What are your snorkel plans? Have a question or tip? Or maybe a clip to share? Join me in the comments!