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Underwater noise maker | Should you get one?

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When snorkeling with a buddy, it can be a little difficult to communicate. If they’re looking the other way, how do you get their attention? Flail? Yell into your snorkel and hope they hear you?

Whether it’s because you saw a cool fish or want to alert them to danger, sometimes you just need to point something out. In this post, let’s have a look at a handy tool that really improves snorkel communication.

Communicating underwater

Scuba divers have long solved the underwater communication issue. They can bang on their air tanks if they want to communicate, but since that isn’t always loud enough or convenient, the underwater noise maker (or scuba rattle) was invented. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to have caught on much yet at all with snorkel enthusiasts.

Basically, an underwater noise maker consists of a hollow metal tube with a weight inside (the “clapper”). If you need to communicate something to your snorkel group, you just shake it and it will make a very clear, easy-to-hear sound that carries quite far in water.

Should you get an underwater noise maker?

I bought one of these rattles for my stay in the Caribbean. I love underwater photography and need to be able to signal to my snorkel buddy when I’ve seen something and want to stop moving for a bit. Sometimes they also want to point out some cool underwater life to me for a photo.

Conclusion? I totally recommend carrying one of these! You don’t realize how much you struggle getting someone’s attention until it’s suddenly made easier. No more crazy waving, just shake the rattle and they’ll hear you even if they’re quite far ahead.

I will be bringing my rattle every time I go out to snorkel now. It’s small and not bothersome, and it just comes in very handy. Situations that I would especially recommend an underwater noise maker for include:

  • Longer snorkel tours, especially further off the coast
  • If you’re a snorkel guide
  • In waters that have risky elements (jellyfish, strong waves, etc.)
  • For scuba diving

Planning your next snorkel trip?

The best underwater noise makers

Yep, even something as simple as this comes in varying quality levels. I’ve since tried a few different ones, and have come across a few things to keep in mind while buying.

Here’s what makes a good underwater rattle, in my opinion:

  • It has a magnetic cap to prevent unwanted noise. I’ve tried ones where the rattle would make a slight sound with every brusque movement, and it gets confusing with all the “false alarms”!
  • It’s small. Some of these are really quite large, which becomes bothersome. The smallest are just an inch or two long but work just fine, so that’s ideal.
  • Wrist lanyard or attachment clip? I personally prefer a clip. They’re meant to attach to a diver’s BCD vest, but they also clip fine to my bikini strap. If you don’t have any place to attach the clip, go for a wrist rattle instead.

An example of an underwater noise maker that ticks all the boxes is the one by XS Scuba. It’s small, has a cap and is pretty darn loud.


When exploring the underwater world, an underwater rattle can help boost safety (which should be your priority!) and really improve your experience. Give it a try!

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