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Planning an exciting snorkel trip in a beautiful underwater destination? Be sure to bring your own gear! Find out why with these tips on how to choose the best snorkel gear for beginners!
Best Snorkel Gear For Beginners
For snorkeling trips, I 100% recommend bringing your own quality set. Many times, tour operators use cheap gear that’s quite worn and hardly (if ever) gets replaced.
Unfortunately, the downside of bringing your own gear is packing it. Fins are awkwardly shaped, so they never fit a suitcase in space efficient way. A snorkel and mask are the two most important items for you to bring.
You have two options when choosing the best snorkel gear for beginners:
Cressi Scuba Diving Snorkel Set
Traveling without fins
My biggest tip for the best snorkel gear for beginners is to save space and travel with just a quality mask and snorkel like this one.
Usually you can easily rent fins–their quality isn’t as important as the other two items. If you’re an experienced swimmer and the sea isn’t rough, you might even be comfortable snorkeling without fins.
You have no idea how many times a snorkel trip is ruined by a poorly fitted mask that leaks and fogs and makes you so uncomfortable that you never want to do it again.
As a snorkel guide in Thailand and an underwater fanatic, I’ve not only witnessed this time and time again, but it has happened to me as a snorkeler and a scuba diver, too. Now, I never travel without my mask.
The secret to traveling light is to create a functional but minimalist capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!
How to Choose the Best Mask:
In order to find the best snorkel gear for beginners, you need to understand how to choose a mask. Start by looking for one with tempered glass. These are better quality and will be a worthwhile investment throughout your travels.
Test the way it fits by standing up straight and facing the floor. Place the mask firmly on your face BUT DO NOT put the strap around your head. Breathe in, and if it stays securely on your face, it fits! If there are gaps around your face when you breathe in or it doesn’t stay on, you need to try a different mask.
There’s no point in investing in your own snorkel mask if it doesn’t fit. Don’t let this ruin a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Tip: Before getting in the water, rub a tiny bit of shampoo on a dry mask. Rub it in the lens and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse it thoroughly with sea or fresh water so the shampoo doesn’t get in your eyes. When it’s clean, spit into the inside of your mask and rub it in the lens–I know this sounds weird but all scuba divers do this to avoid fog. This is another reason to travel with your own mask!
How to Choose the Best Snorkel:
Another of the best snorkel gear for beginners is a good snorkel. One of the problems with cheap sets is that the water gets in through the purge valve quite easily and you can’t comfortably breathe. This makes you constantly cough up water and does not make for a happy snorkel trip.
Choose a semi or fully-dry snorkel–a splash guard is a bonus. Because of the awkward shape, I usually pack the snorkel at the very bottom edge of my suitcase or even carry it in my “personal item” on the flight if I have space.
Alternatively, roll up snorkels are available, but I haven’t tried them personally!
To increase the longevity of your mask, store it in a soft but protective case like this one. Because I have an expensive Cressi mask, this is always with me on my carry-on; I don’t like to check it in.
You can also add your case to a packing cube for extra protection in your suitcase!
Cressi Bonete Adult Snorkeling Set | Cressi Rocks Kids Snorkel Set
Traveling with fins
If you are staying in a destination for an extended period of time or you feel most comfortable having your own fins, choose a travel-friendly version. Unless you’re scuba diving, I suggest you look for a snorkel set with short fins.
These are good for two reasons: they fit into your bag easier and they also help avoid kicking the coral, reducing the possibility of damage to the delicate ecosystem.
This is a sample adult snorkel set with short fins and here is one that’s more appropriately sized for children.
What are your tips for the best snorkel gear for beginners? Share in the comments!
For packing tips on underwater activities, please read:
- Scuba Gear Packing Tips for Liveaboard and Diving Holidays
- Liveaboard Diving Travel Essentials And Giveaway
- 5 Top Waterproof Cameras You May Need for Your Next Adventure
- The Most Lightweight Scuba Gear for Travel
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I wear eye glasses. Is there a mask that you can wear your eye glasses with?
Hi Michelle, thank you for reaching out! Take a look at this article for options for Scuba Masks: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/best-scuba-diving-mask/
Hope this helps you in your search!
I am heading to Jamaica in a few weeks, and want to snorkel, for the first time ever, so I got a mask, snorkel and fins for Christmas. I got long fins though!? I will be bringing a checked in bag, and should have room for them, but should I look for shorter fins instead? My dad bought it a diving store.
Hi Ditte, Long fins tend to be more powerful but either short or long will work for snorkeling. I’d only get shorter ones if you don’t have space. Hope you had a phenomenal time on your trip!! 🙂
Thank you for the useful information as usual! Do you recommend the full-face mask/snorkel sets? If so, which ones?
Hi Lyda, thank you so much for your feedback! We’ll share your question here so the author of the article can reply. 🙂
It gives nice information
I was so glad I read this before we went to Curacao. We would have only been able to use the resort’s for an hour and our room was clear across the property. We were able to swim without fins when we wanted with our own masks and snorkels.
To store them, we left them in our carry on bags along with our water shoes
Yay! So glad you were able to make the most of your time in Curacao 🙂
As avid snorkelers my husband and I have continued to pack our own equipment including shorter fins but often times just rent the fins and take just the mask and snorkel. It saves space.
I totally agree 🙂 The mask is the most important bit!