Essential Snorkeling Gear List & Buying Guide
Snorkeling is an accessible water activity that doesn’t require a certification to partake in. As a fun activity for family vacations, many resorts and dive shops in the area will have plenty of tips and tricks and also offer snorkeling trip packages. If you and the family are looking for a snorkeling adventure, research the area you’ll be staying at.
Thinking about making snorkeling a must-do part of your future vacations? Consider buying your own snorkel gear versus renting the equipment—it’ll be more cost-effective in the long run.
Snorkeling isn’t just for tropical beach vacations; you can snorkel in all types of water, including oceans, lakes, rivers, quarries, and even pools!
There are popular locations in the US, like Florida and San Diego, that offer prime locations to snorkel. Maui and Oahu are two of the most famous places in the US to snorkel.
Because snorkeling doesn’t require a certification, it’s much easier to jump into the activity than scuba diving. And, you can still reap many of the same benefits, such as exploring marine life, swimming with underwater creatures, and experiencing the vast biodiversity of living in the water.
Getting started is easy, and our list of the best snorkeling gear and essential snorkel checklist will cover all your bases so you can quickly hop in the water and start your adventure!
What’s In the List
As with most water excursions, high-quality and properly fitting gear is essential. Whether you’re dealing with oceans or lakes, you’ll want to have snorkeling gear that can withstand the elements and give you the best possible experience.
The initial investment will pay off in both the short- and long-term as you’ll be confident that your products will hold up to the test of time whatever your snorkel plans are.
Essential snorkeling gear includes:
- Snorkeling Masks
- Snorkeling Fins
- Snorkeling Wear and Clothing
- Snorkeling Vests
- Snorkeling Accessories, Gear Storage, and Transportation
Use this checklist as you’re shopping for quality snorkeling products to ensure success in your swimming adventures.
Snorkels are the most important equipment you’ll have for a snorkeling trip, as they are your breathing apparatus and let you skim the surface of the water.
For optimal performance, you’ll want a snorkel that is designed to help you breathe easier and minimize drag. SCUBAPRO snorkels are hydrodynamically designed for this kind of quality performance, letting you swim through the water with ease. One-way purge snorkels protect against water entry from waves. This is helpful if you decide to swim down and get a closer look.
Consider these options when deciding what snorkel will work best for you:
- The Spectra Dry Snorkel – A companion to SCUBAPRO’s Spectra masks, this is an ideal snorkel for any water adventurers. With an efficient purge valve that expels any water that makes it into the airway, a dry top design preventing the need for clearing during resurfacing, and a quick-connect clip that makes it easy to attach or remove from the mask strap.
- The Nexus Snorkel – A premium snorkel that minimizes drag (resistance in the water) and maximizes airflow, the Nexus is designed to deflect surface water, divert bubbles out of your line of sight, and has a rotating mouthpiece that can be tailored to give maximum comfort. With a flexible upper barrel, this particular snorkel is easy to store.
- The Apnea Snorkel – The Apnea snorkel easily attaches to your mask strap. When it’s not being used, it folds easily and can fit snugly into an accessory pocket in your wetsuit. The snorkel pops back into shape when you come back to the surface and is an extremely versatile surface breather when you need it.
The next important piece of equipment that works in tandem with your snorkel is your snorkel mask. When you’re choosing a snorkeling mask, you’ll want to consider a variety of features and benefits.
One of the most important things to look at is a proper fit. You’ll want a mask that has a skirt—the rubber portion of the mask that fits closely to your face—that creates a watertight seal. An ill-fitting mask with a bad seal can cause a plethora of problems such as leaking or fogging. Keep these other important features in mind:
- Materials – Look for a silicone skirt on your mask versus a rubber one. Rubber tends to become brittle over time.
- Defog – A defog for your mask is important when you’re snorkeling. This component is typically a gel that is applied on the inside of your mask preventing water from condensing on the lens, allowing you to see better.
- Wide skirt – Wide skirts are optimal for snorkel masks as they typically give a better seal than narrow skirts. The more your skirt comes in contact with your skin, the better seal you’ll have.
Many masks are sold together with snorkels, so you know that the snorkel you are using is fit to use with the mask you choose. For example, the Trinidad Adult Snorkel Mask Combo combines the Trinidad 2 dive mask with the Trinidad snorkel.
This duo offers frameless lenses for better peripheral vision, a low volume mask making clearing and equalizing a breeze, a silicone water-tight seal, along with a snorkel that breathes easily with a splash guard top and lower purge valve.
A popular mask that doesn’t come with a snorkel but works with a wide variety of SCUBAPRO snorkels is the Spectra Dive Mask. The dual lens gives snorkelers a wide view, a comfortable seal, and can be used as a scuba diving mask. The purge valve can protect against water entry from waves and it’s helpful if you decide to swim down to get a closer look.
Finally, snorkelers with poor eyesight don’t need to worry about issues seeing underwater. Snorkeling with glasses isn’t exactly feasible, which is why there are prescription scuba masks available for those who don’t have 20/20 vision.
You have a variety of options to choose from, from drop-in lenses to magnifiers and bifocal options.
Just like your mask and snorkel, it’s important to get the type of fin that works for you. When choosing your fins, think about these tips:
- For snorkeling, fins with medium-length blades tend to work the best to help surface swim.
- Fins with powerful blades are helpful, but you’ll also want to make sure that the powerful blades are flexible, as well.
- Your fins should fit snugly so that they don’t fall off or cause painful blisters.
- Consider wearing dive socks so that you can prevent uncomfortable rubbing during your swim.
Finally, many snorkelers prefer to wear open heel fins that come with adjustable straps. That way, you have leeway on sizing. Snorkeling fins are available in full-foot and open-heel options. If you prefer to wear booties (or you’re snorkeling somewhere with a rocky entry) you may prefer open-heel fins.
The Go Travel Fin covers all of these considerations and more. The unique design gives snorkelers the benefit of an open heel fin while also allowing for the comfort and barefoot freedom of a full foot fin.
It’s a lightweight piece of equipment that is a nimble performer in the water. While comfortable against a bare heel, it also accommodates neo socks for those who prefer to swim with the added protection.
Another popular option for snorkelers is the Jet Club Full Foot Fin. Its ergonomic foot pocket gives unparalleled comfort and offers impressive kicking performance. The blade generates a lot of power for swimming, and the construction helps to maximize thrust while minimizing leg strain.
Snorkeling Wear and Clothing
Snorkeling wear and clothing should be a priority for both beginners and advanced snorkelers. Stretch, comfort, and durability are essential for a successful water excursion.
There are countless options for clothing, including wetsuits, dive socks, shorts, shoes, and more. Explore our entire line of snorkeling and diving clothing as you build up your inventory. Our comprehensive snorkeling gear section shows you all the potential options, with descriptions that will give you the confidence to buy exactly what you need.
SCUBAPRO’sshort and long sleeve rash guards for both men and women are a must for surface and underwater swimming. If you don’t need a full wetsuit, rash guards can help to protect you from both sunlight and abrasions. Rash guards are ideal for sunny days in temperate waters.
Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF, is the fraction of rays that can penetrate the fabric of clothing and is used to indicate how well your clothing will protect you from harmful UV rays. The higher the UPF rating, the more protection you have. For example, a clothing item with a UP50 rating blocks approximately 95% of UV-B rays. It’s recommended to wear UPV clothing with a rating of at least 30.
Many snorkelers also love our Sport Shorties. Available for men and women, shorties offer comfort and stretch for casual snorkelers. Ideal for swimming in moderate to shallow depths, these super-soft suits allow for a wide range of motion and provide thermal protection. The shorty is easy to put on and off while fitting like a second skin.
Snorkeling vests act as a tool to increase both safety for strong and newer swimmers alike, as well as fun in the water. They provide snorkelers extra buoyancy support on the surface, helping swimmers stay where they want to.
For stress-free snorkeling, vests are the secret to staying comfortable on the surface, giving plenty of buoyancy, and even giving some extra accessory storage options in the water.
Snorkeling Accessories, Gear Storage, and Transportation
Now that you’ve got the essentials, it’s time to talk about snorkeling accessories. This gear isn’t essential for a successful snorkel trip, but they do come in handy and make for an easier trip.
- Bags and Backpacks – Useful when needed to safely separate and store snorkeling gear both for when you travel and for transportation. The lightweight XP Pack Duo Bag has enough compartments to fit all of your essential snorkeling gear, plus extras.
- Dry Bags – Dry bags help to keep clothes and other items dry and free from sand. The Dry Bag 45 works as both a backpack and a dry bag. Keep clothes, electronics, and other personal belongings safe and dry.
Before You Buy Snorkeling Gear
Now that you’re armed with the right information to make a purchase don’t forget some of these tips and tricks before you make the investment. Know how much you will probably spend on all of your gear, as well as finding the best snorkeling gear package either through SCUBAPRO, your local dealer, or the resort that you’re staying at.
How Much Should You Plan to Spend for Quality Snorkeling Gear?
The cost of quality snorkeling gear can vary. For essential pieces, these are the prices you can expect:
- Snorkel – $35–$75
- Mask – $80–$180
- Fins – $60 dollar for high-quality fins, professional fins around $200
- Snorkeling Sets – $75–$100. This Mini Vu Combo Snorkel Package comes with a mask, snorkel, and fins.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that the price range is dependent on the type of travel trip you’re going to take, how much experience you have, and how long you want it to last. As with most hobby equipment, the snorkel gear on the higher end of the price range will be of better quality and last longer. If you eventually want to move on to scuba or free diving, invest in products that will transition into more advanced areas.
Investing in High-Quality Snorkeling Gear Now Can Save Your Money Down the Road
With our essential snorkeling gear list, you’ll be ready to hit the water in no time. Use this guide to understand why some of the equipment we choose is the best snorkeling gear.
While it’s important to invest in high-quality items, it doesn’t mean that you have to blow your budget. Snorkeling is a great first step to other water activities, such as scuba diving.
Snorkeling can absolutely just be a fun vacation hobby, but with the opportunity to explore the waters outside of the ocean, it’s a great summer activity to stay busy and see all the amazing things under the water’s surface close to you.