Dec 13th, 2006, 12:22 PM
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I've already gotten some really good tips from some of you "seasoned" Grand Cayman travelers for our trip in May, but I have been trying to find info on whether it is a good idea to wear a dive suit or "rash guard" apparel when snorkeling? I read on an old GC post where "thimble jellyfish" can be a problem, and they can get "trapped" in t-shirts or bathing suits...but we don't want to be roasting in a rubber wet suit either! I think the idea of sun protection is good, as I expect we'll be spending a LOT of time in the water with our backsides to the sun! Any suggestions or advice in this area of apparel?
chellyroo is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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A "skin" is what you need. It fits and looks like a wetsuit, but it is lycra - like a heavy swimsuit material.

I have several in different thicknesses depending where I am going and what time of year. I have some with double thickness on knees and elbows - that is nice for kneeling in sand.

I have one with Polartec lining. That one is good for chillier water.

You can find them at your local dive shop or online. I have gotten some very expensive barely used dive equip. on Ebay.

Diana is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 03:58 PM
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You are going snorkeling, not diving, correct?

I have been snorkeling in the Caribbean for almost 20 years and have never worn a wet suit/dry suit/dive suit.

I keep thinking about getting one simply because after about 45 minutes of snorkeling I get cold (I get out of the water but am having so much fun I don't want to stop).

I'm not saying you won't have a problem with jellyfish but no one I know has ever had a problem with any in GC. Don't recall if I have ever seen them in GC.

We've been at several conventions (as well as our own trips) so we have snorkeled with several people - no one I have ever snorkeled with has used a wet suit in the Caribbean (Hawaii - yes, the water is colder there).
LvSun is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 05:24 PM
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Hi, LvSun! Thought you might pop in here on this one! Yeah, we're going snorkeling, not diving. My concerns were a) sunburn and b) the jellyfish issue. If you do a search for jellyfish in the Cayman Islands board, you'll find an older post (2002) where a few people did have problems with the "thimble" jellyfish (also called sea lice). I did an internet search on that and found info that they are tiny (pepper speck sized) and lodge in the insides of swimsuits and cause rashes which can be pretty bad and last for days.We're going mid-May and that's when I've read the thimble jellyfish can be worst. Maybe it was a problem a few years ago but not now?? Also, I read posts of experienced snorkelers who use the dive skins, and remarked about the "lobster" snorkelers who told them they wished THEY had. I tan easily but will burn in prolonged exposure.

Diane, thanks for the post. When they state a mil thickness, is it the higher the number the THICKER the suit?
chellyroo is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 05:31 PM
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Several years ago we were lucky enough to go on the Belize Adventure week, staying at a remote island in Glover's Atoll for 4 days. The people there all recommended wearing a wetsuit or skins for 3 reasons: protection from the sun, protection from jellyfish or other stingers, and so we could stay in the water longer. We've never gone back to the t-shirt over the bathing suit, it works great for us.
rickandpat is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 06:59 PM
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I won't snorkel or dive without a wet suit - not only because I get cold easily -- but for protection from sun, potential scrapes on coral, jelly fish, etc. Also, if you get a neoprene suit you'll enjoy extra bouyancy. If you like watersports -- I think a suit is a great investment. Get a lightweight one -- then, if you go someplace where the water is colder you can always get a vest to keep you warmer. I always wear a neoprene hat too. Yeah, sometimes people laugh at me when I'm some place warm fully dressed for cold water diving - but I don't care -- being cold can really spoil a snorkeling/diving experience.

Having said all of that -- when I was diving in GC I still got a nasty rash on my neck (the only place I wasn't covered) from the jelly fish or something else in the water. Some people in our group were affected and others weren't -- not sure why.

Once in the water I don't think you have to worry about being "too hot" wearing a wet suit - I've never heard anyone complain about that. On land or boat you might feel a bit uncomfortable/hot wearing a suit -- but just wait till right before you get in the water to put your suit on. And -- make sure you buy a snug (very snug) dive suit. You might want to ask someone in a dive shop to help you with the fit. Lots of people make a mistake buying their first dive suit -- big is not better

cm318 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 03:19 AM
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Appreciate all the advice! I thick for our own piece of mind (this being our first REAL snorkel experience and first trip to the Caribbean) we will invest in a suit. I was looking on Ebay, but after reading the advice about making sure of the fit, sounds like we should just bite the bullet and go to a pro shop. I will suggest the cap to my husband, too, since he shaves his head! THanks again!
chellyroo is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 03:27 AM
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I've snorkeled for years. My carryon for the plane is my snorkel bag (and I stuff a thin beach towel, swimsuit, toothbrush and change of clothes - in case my checked bag gets lost or delayed). In other words, snorkeling is important to me. I've never worn either (dive skin or rash guard).
starrsville is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 04:06 AM
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We are novice snorkelers and have snorkeled in a few places. We are also going to GC this summer for the first time
We have never worn a suit or encountered jelly fish (thank god!), but we do wear the rash guard shirts.
It is so much easier than getting fried! We are all light skinned and it is just too easy to get the backs burned! Anyway rash guards are great and can be found in places like Costco (timing is everything there) for reasonable prices. You can also buy them online and at surf shops!
girlonthego is online now  
Dec 14th, 2006, 04:21 AM
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Hi again,

A 1 mil is a neoprene suit so still technically a wetsuit. It's just one step above a skin and a good compromise. Yes, the higher the mil number, the thicker the suit. A 6 mil is very thick.

I get cold easily, and so I always take my 1 mil along to the Caribbean if I'll be diving. Henderson makes a very nice Hyperstretch 1 mil that you can find reasonably on Ebay. (I got mine brand new off of there - someone bought it, it didn't fit, and they never wore it.)

I was on a drift dive once in Mexico, and the boat broke down, and was not there when we surfaced.

It was OK until it started to rain, then the thimble jellies came.

An hour later, those of us wearing wetsuits were fine - I got a couple of mild stings on my throat/chin where my wetsuit did not cover. The poor guy wearing a T-shirt and shorts was cold AND got stung many times.

I've seen thimble jellies many times while snorkeling. I wear a skin to keep warm, to protect again sunburn and the jellies.

LvSun, I have found that a vest works well if you don't want to wear a skin or suit but get a bit chilled. My husband has a Polartec one with a hood, and I have a neoprene one. Since fashion is always important to me, you won't get me into one with a hood.
Diana is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 06:07 AM
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For a number of years, my wife and I have been using a product called Sharkskin rash guards. They made of polyolefin, so are a little heavier than a lycra skin. They are great at protecting from the sun and thimble jellyfish, as well as keeping us a little warmer. They have the added benefit of drying very quickly. We wouldn't go snorkeling without them.
Angler973 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 06:27 AM
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I've been following this thread with interest. I love to snorkel but I never stay out very long for some of the same reasons others have mentioned.

How much would one reasonably expect to pay for a light skin to wear while snorkeling when buying new? What about used or on eBay as Diana suggests? And how much room does it take up in a suitcase?

ejcrowe is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 06:40 AM
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Hi ej, the dive skins take up very little space in a suitcase - about the same as two or three one-piece swimsuits - and are very light. They are longsleeved and full length and have a big plastic zipper up the front. The best ones also have a "thumb loop" you can put over your thumb to help you get it on. They are snug, so it's a little like wriggling into a full-body girdle.

Here are some links:


This one is NICE! I bought this exact one on Ebay, but it was too small, so I sold it. This one I think is Polartec, so it is a bit warmer.


This is a .5 mil. Technically a wetsuit. Nice kneepads and has thumb loops.


This is a traditional skin. Takes up little space, provides minimal warmth but good protection from stingey things and sun. Inexpensive. Can get a better brand for about $45 at local dive shop.

Happy snorkeling/diving!

Diana is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 07:20 AM
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Thanks, Diana. How do sizes run? Should I buy for the largest part of me since they're all one piece? So go by my pants/hip size?
ejcrowe is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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For some reason, they do seem to run small. I am tall with long legs, and wear a pants size 4, but wear a 10 in many wetsuits or skins.

They go by weight and height normally.
It's kinda like pantyhose in a way! I've had 'em before where the crotch ended up almost to my knees if I got the correct weight size. Best to try on if possible.

If it's on Ebay, I go to whatever mfr's site the name brand is and look at their size charts to determine what I need to get.
Diana is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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"I am tall with long legs, and wear a pants size 4"

OKay, I officially hate you now!
I'm short and dumpy, which means I'd probably have to order XXXXXL and then cut them off at the knees to fit my short legs.
ejcrowe is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 03:25 PM
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You are tooo funny. I am sure you will be able to find something that fits you quite nicely! (That's the very good thing about lycra - it gives AND it is slimming.)

BUT, better to go up a size than get one too small. I am rather - ahem - bootylicious, and we were in Mexico doing a shore dive with a big group of people. I was the only female. I was a little damp because it was so hot, and so could not for the life of me get my wetsuit up over my junky trunk no matter how I tried - much to the amusement and entertainment of my DH and the other divers.

I finally ended up having to have TWO men grab it - one on either side and work it up over my tush. quot;)

Sooooo, get a size that fits so you don't end up being the unhappy center of attention as you try to work yourself into it. Ack.
Diana is offline  
Dec 15th, 2006, 01:06 PM
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After a lot of internet research (and consideration of all the fine advice from all you posters!) hubby and I decided on the Evo 6.5 oz Lycra Dive Skin. We ordered online from Diversdirect.com and they were $49.99/ea. The reviews were great, stating lightness, comfort, fast drying among the benefits. One poster specifically mentioned buying hers for Grand Cayman and how well it worked for her.
chellyroo is offline  
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