Good snorkel equipment makes your time in the water a lot more fun, compared to a leaky fogging mask, a snorkel that floods easily, or fins that blister your feet. Perfectly fitting snorkel gear gets out of your way, out of your mind, enabling you to relax and focus on the great stuff underwater. Here you’ll learn all of your snorkeling equipment options, and how to get a perfect fit for your face, feet and mouth. That’s why it is best to buy vs. rent, even for beginners. Rentals rarely fit right. And once you have a good set of snorkeling gear, it will last you for years with minimal care. Our snorkeling gear guide will answer all your questions. If you are looking for the best places to snorkel, visit here for our Top 10 Snorkeling Spots.
Snorkel masks come in a large variety of styles and sizes and materials. You can get them with one window, or up to four. Some have plastic skirts, but 100% silicone is far better. The main thing is to get one of good quality that fits you perfectly.
Make sure your mask of choice is a “real” diving or snorkeling mask. By this I mean that it should be made for the purpose of diving or snorkeling, rather than a cheap mask bought in a supermarket. Properly constructed masks will feature shatterproof glass, and are made so they can withstand pressure if you go for breath-hold dives.
When choosing a mask, pick one with a relatively small volume, meaning that the air space trapped inside the mask isn’t larger than necessary. This will make it easier to clear if water should come in, and makes it easier to equalize it if you dive below the surface.Go for one with a good field of vision.
Fit of the Mask
The fit of the mask is crucial. Check the fit by puttingthe mask on without putting the strap around your head, inhaling lightly thru your nose, and then letting the mask go. If the mask sticks to your face simply from the vacuum you create by inhaling, it has a reasonably good fit. Put the mask strap on and exhale from your nose. You should be able to force the exhaled air out under the mask skirt without too much effort. Otherwise, emptying the mask if water comes in will be difficult.
Top 3 Snorkeling Masks:
Luke Full Face Snorkel Mask
Optimum fit, comfort and superior optics in a full face respirator. 180° wide viewing allow you to see more fish and sea creatures than ever before, and it is the biggest of any snorkel mask on the market today. Full-face snorkeling mask for you to breath naturally through the nose and mouth. Separate Inhaling and exhaling channels effectively prevent fogging. The snorkel mask is equipped a floating ball which will seal the top of the snorkel when submerged, prevents salt water from getting into your mouth or nose. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
X-Lounger Snorkel Mask
With a 180 degree field of vision and flat lens, X- Lounger full face snorkel mask offer superior views better than a standard diving mask and open up a whole new world of underwater adventure. Skip from traditional mask’s trouble, X-Lounger’s easy breath masks offer you a better underwater experience. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
Unigear 180° Full Face Snorkel Mask
This snorkel mask provides 180º Panoramic view, makes it easier than ever to breathe comfortably through your mouth or nose while you are snorkeling. This mask will serve you for a long time and perfectly solves the non-folding snorkel masks’ problem and the installation difficulties, like easily damaging the buckle and easily lose your snorkel mask. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
There are two choices of snorkel fins, close and open foot. The primary reason to use an open foot fin is it allows you to wear a boot. Mostly divers wear boots because they need the insulation (colder water at depths), and because they often are walking with a lot of heavy gear, over rocky shores. A snorkeler can also benefit from wearing boots. If you enter the water on a rocky beach very many times, you will know why.
There are a couple reasons why a closed foot fin is a good choice. First, compared to heavier dive fins, they weigh less. Extra weight at the end of your foot means you have to work harder to move it. Second, efficiency tests have proven that a closed fin is more efficient than an open fin. I am not exactly sure why. It could be because they are less bulky, offering better hydrodynamics around the foot area. Or it could be because your connection to the fin is more positive (without a boot between).
Top 3 Snorkel Fins
Atomic Aquatics Full Foot Split Fins – Best Choice
Split fins have become the most popular style fin in diving today. Just look around when you are out beach diving or on the charter boat and you will soon discover that more divers are making the switch to this style fin. Why are they so popular? They are popular because they work, and you, work less! A split fin performs more like the combination of a whale’s tail and a propeller. When you kick the two separate blades twist and create more of a propeller surface which will increase your propulsion and lift. You feel as if the fin is not strong enough to keep you moving as fast as you are accustomed with your full bladed fin, yet you cover the same distance in the same time. Less Drag, More Thrust and most important Less Strength is Used. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins– 2nd Choice
This is the ideal fin for travel and for dives in warm waters.The orthopedic foot pocket with variable thickness provides superior comfort. The blade is constructed of Tecralene® and Thermoplastic rubber for extended durability.When water spills over the sides of the blade, it reduces thrust, and decreases efficiency. Mares design was derived from observing marine mammals such as manatees in their natural environment. When swimming they bend their tail to form a channel, which optimizes thrust. When proper channeling occurs, all of the displaced water contributes to thrust.The “Channel Thrust” technology maximizes the channeling of water and moves a much greater amount of water compared to other fins of the same size. The result is greater thrusting power with the same amount of effort. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
U.S. Divers Sea Lion Floating Fins – Most Economical
Compact length is great for travel. Buoyant rubber, full-foot pocket fins that are great for snorkeling or body surfing. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
Other Important Items for Snorkeling
Stream2Sea Biodegradable, Tested and Proven Reef Safe Sunscreen for Face & Body
Guard against the sun with mineral sunscreen that is safe for more than just your skin. Like all of Stream2Seas beauty products, when it washes off either in the ocean or the shower it wont harm marine life. The antioxidant-rich formula provides uva and uvb protection that isn’t greasy, but is biodegradable and organic. Stream2Sea is a tested and proven reef safe, biodegradable sport sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA and UVB sun protection, with a powerful antioxident blend of organic Green Tea, Tulsi, Wakame and Olive Leaf. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
Rash Guards For Sun Protection
Using sunscreen is good, but when you go in and out of the water several times in a day, it becomes a pain to re-apply every time. So it’s a good idea to wear long sleeve rash guard shirts when you snorkel. This reduces the area you need to sunscreen by a bunch. And the rash guard provides a small amount of insulating warmth and jellyfish sting protection.
O’Neill Men’s & Women’s Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard
World-renowned O’Neill quality at value-driven prices. The Basic Skins offers U.P.F. 50+ Ultraviolet Protection with cleanly designed graphics and minimal seam placement for rash prevention. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here For Men’s >> or << Click Here For Women’s >>
Stinger Suits (Full Body Suit)
In some places, tours often require you to wear a full body rash guard, which includes covers for your head and hands. They call it a stinger suit. It prevents sunburn, but is primarily worn to prevent getting stung by the Box Jellyfish, the sting of which is lethal.
Seavenger Odyssey 3mm Neoprene Wetsuit
Go right from snorkeling at the surface to diving in the deep; this 3mm neoprene full-body wetsuit forms to your body for maximum comfort and doesn’t irritate your skin. Super-stretch panels around your knees and armpits make sure your wetsuit flexes where it should and doesn’t lose its elasticity. Special knee pads and shoulder pads have anti-abrasion technology, making it perfect for water sports that require extra gear, like scuba diving and snorkeling. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a beginner to wearing a wetsuit, this one lasts through the wear and tear. For more information or to purchase, << Click Here >>
Visit here for the Top 10 Best Snorkeling Spots!
Very informative post! I didn’t know that split fins existed to tell you the truth. I think I may buy me some gear to do a little snorkeling in the summer. I live in Greece and there is water all around us although the sea isn’t exactly what it used to be when I was a child. Decades of tourism and fishing have altered the panorama but then again, the sea is always of interest even if it may be for our lack of contact with it. Thank you for the article. It was good and interesting reading. Cheers!
I am glad you enjoyed and you live in a very beautiful country! I know that you will find a great snorkeling spot near you. I would love to know where you ended up and how it turned out with your new snorkeling gear!
What an excellent guide, I really enjoyed the reading!
I am sailing to the Bahamas, more precisely in the Exumas and I wouldn’t miss for the world to see the underwater sea creatures and coral reefs. As I had an awful experience with a snorkel tube and a mask, I will opt for a full face mask so I can breathe like I usually do on land.
And I will also need a wetsuit to protect my skin from the sun.
If something wrong with the product, will it be possible to return it?
I don’t want to be a pessimist, but We never know:)
Thank you for this great post!
Yes, you will be able to return any item I have listed with free return shipping and generally a full refund within a couple of days of the return. Any I have listed will be great, as they are all the best for your money. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
I usually only snorkel when we’re on vacation somewhere. I know that plenty of people rent gear but the idea of using a mask used by someone else really grosses me out. I don’t care how well they say they cleaned it. I often don’t have space to pack everything I’d like to take but I can make room for a high quality mask so that I can have the best experience possible. Plus, rental fees add up so I save money by bringing anything of my own that I can fit in the suitcase. These recommendations are very helpful.
I agree Ginger! I don’t use used snorkeling gear. I’d rather have something that fits me and I know it’s clean, and only I use it LOL. And yes, the mask does not take up too much space in the suitcase and well worth it!
This is a great site. We have always wondered why we couldn’t get a mask to seal. Guess they were all rented masks while we were on vacation.Your set up of the site is appealing and we wanted to keep reading until the end. The length was just right. The photos and the images are all where they are supposed to be, makes for easy reading. Your explanation of the “Atomic Aquatics Full Foot Split Fins” gave us a whole new outlook on what we used to call flippers. First time I have ever seen split fins.The site has a real good feel about it. It feels happy and makes you want to get out and get into the water and start snorkeling with the right gear. Your presentation has left a lasting impression on us, and when we go snorkeling we will come back to the pros and cons you covered here. It will make snorkeling much more pleasurable with some simple fixes on our part.Invaluable for anybody that only goes out occasionally (that’s us) and hasn’t had the experience of knowing the latest trends in this quite specialized field. Felt like it brought us up to date with the latest in snorkeling gear.We cannot think of anything you could add or take away from this site. We’d be proud to have built it.Thanks,
Rob & Michelle
Great Rob & Michelle! Now you are ready to go snorkeling with the proper gear, and enjoy it a whole heck of a lot more! I just don’t like to rent gear that is that personal for me, and when it can just take away from the whole experience. Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.
I love beach vacations but has never thought of venturing into snorkeling ,i see all these amazing pictures of the underwater life and think it would be incredible to see them firsthand. I now pride myself as knowledgeable on matters snorkeling gear and may just consider joining one of the training clubs in my area,i know what brands are best and that i will not find them in supermarket shelves.Good stuff.
Great Florence, glad you agree 🙂 You will absolutely love snorkeling. It is awesome to see the marine world come to life. Thanks for visiting my snorkeling gear guide.
Thanks for such a comprehensive and helpful Snorkeling Guide. I learned so much from this one article. To be honest with you, I was going to simply settle for the U.S. Divers Sea Lion Floating Fins, the most economical of the fins that you have listed. However when I learned of the mechanics of the other two fins and how they were made(by observing Marine life), I gained a more deeper appreciation and ultimately changed my mind to go for the best.
Thanks for all the help.
See you at the sea!
Yep, the U.S. Divers Sea Lion Floating Fins are best if you just cannot afford the other two options. They are a lot better for sure. But you do have to start somewhere for sure. Thanks for stopping by my snorkeling gear guide.
This was exactly what I was looking for! Myself and my hubby are planning a trip to Cuba in the new year, and I wanted to try snorkeling while we were there. I absolutely love the Unigear 180!
As a person who is very new to snorkeling, this page was very helpful. I was able to everything in one spot! 🙂 Wish me luck in Cuba LOL
Great Brenda, have a wonderful time in Cuba…..it’s beautiful! Please let me know if you have any further questions.
The snorkels are really the best to go deeper, i really love swimming but not to go deeper , i used to watch my friends diving deeper. i am just imagining my self diving deeper on my snorkels seeing all the beautiful animals underwater will give me a great and wonderful experience. I really would love to have my own snorkels because they also can last me longer.
Yes, owning your own gives you a personal fit that won’t leak and only you have worn. You take care of them, and they will last a long time. I don’t go deep under water when I snorkel. I only hover at the top looking in. I think a scuba diver is what you are thinking of, yes they do go way deeper in the water to see some things really close up that are lower in the water. It is beautiful for sure. I think you will love snorkeling!
I’ve had two full face snorkel masks and they have been superb. I only got the second one as I lost my first one.
The field of vision they give you is superb. I like the fact that if you go below the surface you don’t get a mouth of sea water and it’s very easy to clear the water out of the snorkel when resurfacing.
I’m pleased to see you included sun lotion as this can be overlooked sometime!
Oh yes Darren, a lot of people don’t even use sunscreen, which is a must in my book. Glad you enjoyed the read and I agree that full face snorkel masks are the only way to go.
I have been wanting to go snorkeling for a while now, and just starting to look to see what I need. Snorkeling sounds like a wonderful experience. To see what the underwater life looks like with all the little fish and turtles and all kinds of sea life. It’s a good thing to know what you need, and to have all the right equipment, so that you can enjoy the world under water. You have answered all my questions for me, thanks.
You will have a lot of fun snorkeling. It really is an amazing experience. Thanks for visiting my snorkeling gear guide.
What a helpful guide! I’m new to snorkeling, so I’ll definitely be needing all this gear.
If I’m buying gear online, do you have a recommendation for finding the right product without being able to try then out first? I usually bank on being able to return items, but maybe there is a better way for snorkeling gear!
Thanks for the info!
All of the equipment I have listed can be returned with free return shipping. All are great buys and the best equipment 🙂 You would be happy with any selection. Please let me know what you end up with!
The fit of the mask is quite important. However I have never tried one and I am thinking of buying one. Do you have any recommendation for someone like me?
One of the three masks I have listed would work, any of them actually. They are all great 🙂
Thank you for a very informative snorkeling gear guide, I found it very helpful.
As someone who is new to snorkeling and doesn’t have the proper snorkeling gear, I am so happy I came across your site.
I now have a much better understanding of what to look for when buying snorkeling gear and I feel more confident in what I need to buy.
Thank you again.. keep up the good work!
Thanks Moni! It is important to buy the right snorkeling gear the first time. Then you are not throwing money away. Snorkeling is amazing, and the right gear makes the experience! Thanks for visiting my snorkeling gear guide.
As a British expat living and working in Thailand for over 16 years now, I can recommend many beautiful beach and island destinations where snorkeling is great. There’s also a lot of PADI diving courses available, and the place here to go for that is mostly Koh Tao which is near Koh Samui, a larger island.
I’ve suffered through wasting money on cheap snorkeling gear bought in supermarkets and shops near beaches. It’s definitely worth the extra effort to get decent gear in a decent shop before you go snorkeling. It’s such a big let down having leaky gear, especially.
Great read, thanks.
I agree James! Cheap snorkeling gear ends up just being thrown away, yes because it just ends up being super leaky. Thanks for visiting and yes great snorkeling in Thailand!