Snorkeling essentials : mask, snorkel and fins

Unlike many other water sports, snorkeling requires rather simple equipment: a diving mask, a snorkel (or full face mask), as well as fins, are all you need to get into the water and explore the underwater world. For comfort, but also for security reasons, it is important to get snorkeling gears adapted to your practice, to your level, and also to the water temperature and the environments you explore.

Traditional or full-face snorkeling mask: make your choice!

Traditional snorkeling mask

The traditional snorkeling mask is a diving mask. It covers your eyes (so you can see underwater), and keeps water out of your nostrils. Since this mask is airtight, you will only breathe through your mouth, using a snorkel.

This traditional mask is the only one to allow snorkeling both on the surface and on immersion. Indeed, a flexible membrane on the nose makes it possible to perform the Valsalva maneuver (equalize the pressure of the ears).

When choosing your traditional mask, we recommend you to particularly focus on its field of vision. The distance between the glass and the eye is the main indicator: the shorter the distance, the wider the visibility.

Single-glass masks will offer you a large field of vision, but they come with a larger air volume than double-glass masks. If you like to immerse yourself more than 2-3m deep, you should go for masks with a small air volume, which avoid the pressure on your face. Last but not least, for safety reasons, choose a tempered glass mask.

Single vs double lens snorkeling masks
Double lens (left) vs single lens (right) snorkeling masks.

The skirt, which surrounds the glasses and seals your face, is also to be chosen with particular attention. Avoid plastic skirts and opt for a silicone skirt, a material that reduces the allergies and irritation risk. Soft silicones have been developed, and offer optimized comfort for the skin contact. The skirt color is also fairly important. Transparent, it will let in a lot of light if the weather is dark. Black and opaque, it will protect you from too much light and reverberation, especially in tropical and sunny environments.

Clear or black skirt snorkeling mask
Clear skirt (left) vs black skirt (right) snorkeling mask.

Are you wearing prescription glasses?

Good to know: some traditional masks allow the installation of vision corrective glass.

Full face snorkeling mask

The full face mask is a “2 in 1” mask, which replaces both the traditional mask and the snorkel. Wearing a full face mask is considered more pleasant by many snorkelers because it covers the whole face and allows breathing naturally through the nose or mouth without having to “bite” into a snorkel.

For the time being, the full face snorkeling mask only allows surface snorkeling. Indeed, its current design does not give access to the nose area, and therefore, you will not be able to equalize the ears pressure. Our advice is simple then: avoid immersion with a full face mask because not only it will create an unpleasant sensation, but also the immersion without pressure equalization could seriously damage your eardrums. Moreover, the air volume of a full face mask being much greater than a traditional mask, it would create a very uncomfortable pressure on your face (even at 1m deep).

Full face snorkeling masks
Most of main diving equipment manufacturers have now designed full face snorkeling masks.

The full-face mask generally offers a very wide visibility. The air circulation in the mask should also helps prevent fogging on the glass. These masks are certainly the most suitable for snorkeling beginners, or for those who are happy enough with exploring the underwater world only from the surface.

Are you discovering the snorkeling? Our beginners guide is here to help you make your choice!

Always be sure to choose a certified, quality full face mask that meets the latest standards. This is your guarantee that the CO2 residual level inside the skirt during inspiration remains well below the safety limits.

Good to know : some full-face masks have a built-in action cam mount.

Have you made your choice ? 👇

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Snorkel

If you want to use a traditional snorkeling mask, you will also have to equip yourself with a snorkel. It will enable you to breathe while keeping your face in the water so that you can explore the underwater world non-stop!

The snorkel mouthpiece material (i.e the snorkel part that you keep between your teeth) is an important parameter to keep in mind when buying one. Prefer flexible silicone mouthpiece, more comfortable than hard ones, especially for long explorations. They also prevent gums or inside cheeks injuries.

We will strongly recommend snorkels wearing a valve that makes it easier to drain water from it by blowing through the mouth, especially when returning to the surface after immersion. Snorkels not equipped with valves also allow this maneuver, but it requires a little more breath. Some snorkels are also equipped with a mechanism that reduces the unexpected ingress of water, especially when you receive splashes or when you swim in small waves.

palmes

Swimfins

Fins are an essential snorkeling equipment if you want to easily move into the water and travel great distances, exploring the most beautiful underwater landscapes. Not only that, they also contribute to your safety, allowing you to be more efficient when dealing with currents, for example.

For occasional explorations, over short distances or in calm seas, short fins may be ok, especially if you are not very comfortable with the idea of ​​wearing them. However, to fully enjoy your sessions, quickly opt for medium fins, longer and more rigid. If you have to put in a little more effort to swim, long fins are also the key to your freedom in the water: long distances, immersions, accelerations … the underwater world is yours!

You will find on the market several types of slippers (adapted to a particular size or adjustable using a strap). Whichever you choose, try them carefully, as your comfort in the water will depend on it.

Mares long sleeve

Rashguard and wetsuit

When snorkeling, the back of the body is strongly exposed to the sun. The freshness of the water removes the feeling of heat, and the magnifying effect of the water on the skin further enhances the power of UV. For this reason, it is recommended to wear a rashguard, preferably long sleeves.

Designed in a very fine material, they offer UV protection, reducing the need of sunscreen, often harmful to the environment. Rashguards also reduce the feeling of cold and wind on the skin.

If you want to snorkel in temperate seas or outside the hottest seasons, wearing a wetsuit may be essential. Thicker, they protect against the cold, the sun, jellyfish or even injuries that may happen through involuntary contact with rocks or corals.

In tropical seas or during the summer, a suit of 1.5mm thickness can help you stay in the water longer. In temperate seas (water at +/- 20 ° C), prefer a wetsuit of 2.5 to 3mm. Below 20 ° C, you can opt for thicker ones, or complete your 3mm with an undersuit.

Complete your equipment, for more safety and comfort in and out the water!

Ethical Zinc sunscreen

Sunscreen

Ingredients contained in conventional sunscreens are extremely harmful to the marine environment, and in particular to corals. In addition to your rashguard, apply a cream without chemicals or nanoparticles, more environmentally friendly.

Choose high levels of UV protection (preferably UPF 50+), as the effect of the sun’s rays is further enhanced on the water.

Seac biogel antifog for snorkeling

Anti-fog

Fogging in the mask is a recurring and very annoying problem in snorkeling. It occurs by condensation due to the temperature difference between the air inside the mask, hot and humid, and the water, colder, in contact with the glass.

If some tips exist (such as the use of saliva, toothpaste, shampoo or else, which are not very eco-friendly), prefer the ecological anti-fog products.

Olympus Tough TG-6 (red)

Cameras

Colorful fish, strange creatures… The seabeds abound in captivating subjects for underwater photography. The cameras for underwater shooting have never been so high-performance and affordable and from now on everyone can bring home wonderful memories from their snorkeling explorations.

Discover our snorkeling underwater photos tips, and our selection of underwater cameras for snorkeling.

Reef fish ID: Florida Caribbean Bahamas

Fish ID Guides

Want to learn more about the species you observed or photographed under water? The identification guides are true treasures for those curious to know more about the undersea world!

Check out our online reef fish identification guide, where you can ID species from 13 iconic fish families, sea turtles and starfish, and our choice of the best fish ID books for snorkelers!

Inflatable Float and Flag Bouy

Diving flag

Think about your safety! In many countries, if you plan to snorkel outside swimming areas or in boat traffic areas, it is recommended (and often compulsory) to signal yourself using a floating buoy equipped with a diving flag, red with a white diagonal. This will definitely help you avoid any unfortunate accident.

You can find this item, as well as many more in our snorkeling guide shop.