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Heavy Snorkeling: Is There a Weight Limit for Snorkeling?

When you think of snorkeling, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a tropical island with crystal clear water and lots of fish? Or maybe just floating around aimlessly in the water watching other people swim by? Whatever your answer may be, one question that might not have crossed your mind yet is: “Is there a weight limit for snorkeling?”

Any limit to snorkeling will be on transportation to the snorkel site or within the gear, they have to fit a snorkeler. Since snorkeling is entirely in the water it is accessible to anyone but for safety reasons, there can be reasons to exclude specific weight-related issues.

If you’re worried about this and want to know if there’s an appropriate weight limit for adults before you book your next trip, don’t worry! There are tons of different factors involved in determining how much someone can weigh when they go snorkeling.

In today’s post, we’ll be going over all those factors as well as giving you some recommendations to help you figure out if your weight is appropriate for snorkeling.

Bodyweight and Snorkeling

For the majority of people, weight isn’t a cause for concern when snorkeling, bigger bodies are naturally more buoyant in most circumstances and this makes you float easier.

Much of the weight issues are due to legal guidelines for the transportation of people to the snorkel site, these rules can limit people based on the overall boat size and its weight capacity to the number of expected riders.

Outside of this the only other issue for someone would be a unique facial structure due to being overweight as it could cause the masks they have to not fit right and expose you to dangers.

What is Title 49 USCG Code of Federal Regulations

When reading and researching I did find that some US-based companies did have some maximum weight restrictions due to some federal regulations, this appears to be fully related to boats’ overall weight divided by max passenger load and the ladder system to get you back out of the water.

So you want to make sure that when you are searching for a trip with a snorkeling tour that you pay heed to this limit if they state it as you may be restricted from entering the vessel before you even start if you exceed their weight restriction.

These aren’t something the company can not pay attention to as they could be a cause for them to lose their business licensing at a minimum should anything occur. As an example from a snorkel company website:

Per Title 49 USCG Code of Federal Regulations, passenger weight is restricted to 195 pounds per person. Vessel ladder and platform weight restricted to 250 pounds.


This isn’t a rule against you being overweight but on how the federal regulations force a vessel to carry a max weight (See § 178.215 Weight of passengers and crew) but this max weight is EVERYTHING on board the boat, from gear to pilot and crew, and all passengers.

Is It Safe to Snorkel When Overweight?

For a majority of people, the answer is yes. If you’re not snorkeling in extreme conditions like rough water, strong currents, or a great distance from shore, then you’re likely going to be just fine.

The biggest limitation to being overweight in snorkeling is diving as fat people tend to have more difficulty than skinnier individuals due to natural buoyancy within body fat that doesn’t exist in muscle mass.

The amount of weight someone can safely be while snorkeling depends on a few factors including age, health conditions, and overall fit the person is.

There are several people out there who don’t understand their limits when they’re doing an activity that requires physical exertion, so it’s important to have a level of humility when doing anything.

General Health

The biggest thing is your overall health, snorkeling while being mostly a floating activity, does take a large amount of cardio effort while moving around to see the area you’re visiting.

If someone has a condition that limits their ability to do such activities, then they must understand this and plan accordingly by choosing an easier activity.

The last thing you need while out in the middle of the ocean is a stress-related heart attack or similar problem where you are in a very bad position for immediate rescue.

Your Fitness Level

Snorkeling does take a lot of consistent effort to move and explore, you need to be able to swim which means you can’t have any mobility issues that prevent this.

You need the ability to stay afloat but also move around for extended periods, especially if snorkeling in shallower waters where weed items and other things are at risk of tangling your arms or legs.

The best thing about snorkeling is that you can do it at your speed, no one else matters but yourself so this means even if you’re not in the best shape of your life, don’t have amazing swimming capabilities or anything like that.

If someone wants to get into snorkeling they need to make sure they are able-bodied and mobile

Managing Diving When I’m Overweight

The other part is centered around exploring deeper into the water by diving down, for the bigger individuals this will be challenging as you are more buoyant because of your body fat weight.

You need to adjust how you dive by kicking harder or using a flutter kick, don’t try and use the same techniques you use for diving when skinny or muscular since it won’t work the same.

Equipment Considerations

For most snorkelers who aren’t exceptional swimmers, they will want a snorkel vest to help them stay on top of the water, though most of these come in specific sizes which may limit your ability to use depending on your size.

The same can be said for masks and the snorkels themselves, they come in standard sizes and if you’re not within that range then it can be a deal-breaker.

One good thing about snorkeling is the low weights of everything you wear, meaning your options for what to use isn’t as limited as other activities like scuba diving where weight requirements are very specific.

For most people who want to do some snorkeling but are worried about weight limits, it’s important to remember that you can always go at your own pace and aren’t forced to do anything with the group.

Are There Any Positives to Being Larger When It Comes to Snorkeling?

As long as you’re honest with yourself and don’t go into it thinking that your weight isn’t going to play a factor, then there’s no reason why an overweight person can do just about anything.

Unlike others you do have a more innate ability to float and relax without overly stressing your body through the constant need to tread water to stay up, this can save you a lot of effort throughout a day snorkeling.

The biggest thing is understanding what you want out of snorkeling, if the idea of floating around in calm waters is your main interest then you don’t have to worry about anything.

If you want to go deeper and see things from a different perspective, then you need to make sure your body can handle the demands of this before going any further.

Snorkeling is an activity that doesn’t take much in terms of equipment or even specific knowledge so it’s easy for anyone to jump in and get going.

Final Thoughts on Weight Limits for Snorkeling

If you are an overweight individual, there is no weight limit for snorkeling specifically but more a limitation in the transportation and support of people in the water at the snorkeling spot itself.

Heavier snorkelers who want to explore deeper into the water should use a flutter kick rather than their standard diving technique because they are more buoyant due to overall body fat.

This isn’t meant to demean anyone but more as a protection to you as an emergency in the water becomes incredibly more dangerous with additional weight and those are measured by companies and policies.

If you are looking for snorkeling gear we have a huge list of lists to help you find just the right snorkeling gear to get you up and moving, check it out here!

Just make sure to talk through their policies and understand if they have limits before purchasing and be upfront on your weight so that way no one gets left off the boat for the trip when you get to the adventure!