Snorkeling essentials : mask, snorkel and fins

Unlike in many other water sports, snorkeling equipment is very simple: a diving mask, a snorkel and fins are all you need to get into the water and explore the seabed. But for more comfort, enjoyment and safety, you can add to your equipment.

This page will help you choose your equipment so that you can have the best possible experiences.

The mask

The mask is the centerpiece of your equipment. It does two things: allows you to see under water, and prevents water from getting into your nostrils (in snorkeling, you only breathe through your mouth).

One of the main features of a mask is the field of vision it gives you. The wider the field of vision, the more you will see under the water. It is recommended to have a diving mask with an angle of vision of at least 100° horizontally, and 90° vertically.

The appearance of the silicone skirt, which surrounds the glass and is placed against your face, should also be taken into account. If it is transparent, it will let in a lot of light. If it is black and opaque, it will protect you from too strong light and from reverberations, especially in a tropical environment.

Some diving masks come with a valve that allows you to get rid of the water that sometimes filters into the mask, simply by breathing out through your nose into the mask.

Lastly, the quality of the glass is also important. It can have an anti-reflective and UV coating, it can be shock-resistant, anti-mist and scratch-resistant… You should choose according to your preferences and your activities.



The snorkel

The snorkel enables you to breathe while keeping your face in the water so that you can carry on observing the seabed.

Our tips:

Choose a snorkel fitted with a valve, which means you can expel the water from the snorkel easily, by blowing out, particularly after freediving. You can do the same thing with snorkels that are not fitted with valves, but it is less simple.

Choose a snorkel with a mouthpiece (which you keep between your teeth) made of soft silicone, which is more comfortable than hard mouthpieces, particularly for long explorations.

Lastly, you should choose a snorkel that is flexible and relatively wide, making breathing easier, and adapted to your body type.


The fins

Fins help you move easily through the water and increase your safety. The features of the fins you choose will depend on your snorkeling activity.

For occasional explorations, over short distances and in calm seas, short fins (XXX) are enough. But for a more regular activity, over long distances and / or in areas with a current, or for freediving, you should choose long and flexible fins (about 70 cm), of the scuba-diving type, which will reinforce your strength in the water.

A number of types of full-foot or open-heel swimfins are available (adapted to a particular foot size or which you can adjust with a strap). Whatever your choice, take your time when you try them on, because your comfort in the water will depend on them.


The “full face” mask

These 2in1 (mask + snorkel) snorkeling masks feels more natural to many snorkelers since it covers the entire face. They offer the ability to breathe naturally through the mouth or nose, without having to “bite” on a traditional snorkel. Full face masks are designed not to fog up, and offers a large field of vision.

These masks are probably the best snorkel mask for beginners or anyone who just wants a “from the surface” snorkeling experience, but are not recommended for freediving. Indeed, you have more air in the mask, so it gets more difficult to dive down. Moreover, you don’t have access to your nose, so you have no way to equalize the pressure in your ears that increases when getting deep.

Some full-face masks have a built-in action cam mount.


Be confortable and safe during your snorkeling session

Rash guards are designed to protect you from the cold, the sun and from injury in the event of contact with rocks or coral. They can cover the top of the body only (with long or short sleeves), which is usually enough, or all the body (a complete wetsuit). The choice is yours.

In any case, choose an anti-UV rash guard, since your body (the back of your neck, shoulders, the back of your thighs, calves) is particularly exposed to the sun when you are in the water.

Adapt the thickness of the rash guard to the temperature of the water. Although a thickness of 3 mm is enough in tropical seas and in summer (water at +/-25°C), choose a 5 mm wetsuit in temperate seas (water at +/-20°C). In water below 15°C, opt for a thickness of 7 mm, because your body will get cold very quickly.

The mist in your diving mask is a recurrent problem for snorkelers. It is caused by condensation resulting from the difference in temperature between the air inside the mask, which is warm and humid, and the water in contact with the glass, which is colder.

Although home-made techniques exist (such as using saliva, toothpaste or washing-up liquid, which is not very ecological), a large number of manufacturers have developed lines of anti-mist products. A few drops spread over the inside of the glass generally guarantees that you can swim without problems from mist. Choose ecological products so that you don’t leave behind harmful substances in natural environments when you rinse your mask.

If you are snorkeling alone and you don’t want to leave your things on the beach, or if you are swimming along the coastline without returning to your starting point, it can be practical to have a watertight bag. It is strapped to your wrist and floats at your side during your swim.

We recommend cylindrical bags that you can close by rolling the top down. The capacity will depend on the amount of things you want to carry with you, but 25 to 40 liters is generally enough. The bag must not be too large or else it will hamper your movements in the water.

One of the biggest dangers of snorkeling is the sun. All the back of your body is strongly exposed to the sun during an exploration. The coolness of the water makes the feeling of heat disappear, and the magnifying-glass effect of the water on your skin reinforces the power of UV rays. As an alternative or a complement to an anti-UV wetsuit, use a sunscreen with a high index (40 to 50, or even 60) on the uncovered parts of your body. Apply the cream carefully, in particular to the back of your neck, on your back, behind the thighs and knees and on the calves. To limit your impact on the environment, use ecological sunscreens. Many manufacturers now sell this kind of product, which is in keeping with the snorkeling spirit.
In snorkeling, the spectacle is so impressive that you will soon be tempted to carry your photo memories with you. The market for waterproof cameras has become much wider and more accessible over the past few years. Take a look at our photo equipment page to make your choice.
Children, beginners or people who are ill at ease in the water can wear a snorkel vest or a torpedo buoy placed under their chest so that they will float with a feeling of greater safety.

If you snorkel outside swimming areas and / or in areas where boats are sailing, then it is recommended (and often obligatory, depending on the country) to signal your presence with a signaling buoy fitted with a diving flag (red with a diagonal white stripe).