A waterproof snorkeling bag is a really useful tool for protecting your valuables from theft. It is not a good idea to leave your keys, money, ID or cell phone on the beach or in your car parked at a beach. More and more beaches are having problems with car break-ins. Strap on a waterproof waist pack and you don't have to worry about it.
We have used a waterproof box with a waist strap for years whenever we are in public areas and entering the water from the beach.
These are the things we keep in our waterproof case:
Just the small important stuff. We don't worry about our snorkel gear bag, towels, clothes, sunglasses, etc.
We are fortunate that we haven't had anything stolen on a trip. Using a waterproof snorkeling bag is probably one of the reasons we have been lucky. We highly recommend them for your peace of mind. Because when we are away from home if any of those things got stolen it would really waste a lot of our travel time. We much prefer to take our valuables with us like this rather than leave them in the car or hotel.
So there are a variety of products you can use to do this. None of these products are perfect, but we have found that hard boxes or cases are more consistently waterproof. The seals are not flexible so are less likely to leak.
These are normally translucent plastic bags with some sort of waterproof seal at one end. Don't be tempted to use what is called a dry bag. The waterproof closure is made by folding over the top several times and attaching some sort of clip (or velcroing it down). These are not waterproof if dunked and they are bulky.
Get a bag that has a simple and secure waterproofing clamp at the top, like the ones made by Aquapac. The best sized model for snorkeling is the Aquapac Beltpac Waterproof Snorkeling Bag (pictured at right). It is the ideal size for passports, money, cell phones, etc.
Aquapac also makes a smaller pouch sized for keys, money and ID, called the Keymaster (picture at right).
Kwik Tek makes a waterproof snorkeling wallet and a cell phone pouch that are comparable to the Aquapac ones (pictures at right).
This is what we use (pictured on the top of the page), because it is very reliable and fits two passports, a wallet, keys, an iPod and a cell phone. But if you only have keys and some ID and money, we would probably go with one of the bags above.
There are two major brands of waterproof boxes. The most well known and available are Pelican Cases. But we greatly prefer OtterBoxes. Why? If you look at the fine print, Pelican only claims to be water-resistant, and OtterBox guarantees they are waterproof down to 100 feet.
Whatever you get, go for a clear color so that you can look in at times and make sure it is not flooding. We used the vertically loading one at right for years. It's small lid means less chances of leaks. We now use a bigger OtterBox because we haul along more stuff (like a folding wireless keyboard for typing up notes after we snorkel).
OtterBox Pursuit 40
OtterBox has two new waterproof boxes in the Pursuit Series that are superb for snorkelers. They have better latches, better seals, and great belt loops on all corners. The larger size 40 we feel is perfect for most snorkeler's needs. It will just fit two passports in width, with room for keys, and a few other items. If we did not need a bigger box we would definitely use one of these. There is also a smaller size 20 that might be OK for just keys and money.
Once you have your chosen bag or case, check your seals for any dirt or hair before you close your case EVERY SINGLE TIME. A tiny thing in your seal can cause a flood and your stuff is ruined.
No matter what method you choose, do this....put everything in a good quality zip-lock bag, and zip it closed, before putting it all in your waterproof snorkeling bag or box. It is very inexpensive backup plan so you won't get ruined stuff if your case or bag floods. You can also throw some silica desiccants in there to help keep moisture down.
We greatly prefer to strap one of these around our waist and wear it like a fanny pack. Putting things around your neck is not a good idea. It will hang in your way in the water and be a nuisance. The companies always have pictures of people standing on beaches with these around their necks, but that is not how we use them (we are laying down in the water).
So long as you don't get too big of a box or bag, you won't even notice it in the water. Our box floats, so Nicole (she normally wears it) says she almost never feels it. In the picture below you can just see the otter box Nicole is wearing.
If you freedive, you may want a bag instead of a box, so that you can relieve it of extra air (a floating box is a pain when diving).
If you get a box or a bag, just make sure that your waist strap is positively connected to it. We would not use the supplied belt clips that some come with. We just used a strap we found, threaded around the box loop twice (to keep it from sliding), and there you go.