In this Guide
Snorkeling is one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities out there. It’s a great way to get exercise, get in the water, and get a glimpse at some of the amazing aquatic life that’s all over the ocean. Whether you’re taking a snorkeling holiday in the Caribbean, or making weekend trips down to your local beach, there’s nothing like cruising around for the day and taking everything in!
However, it’s also an activity that requires lots of equipment to be enjoyed properly. You’ll need a mask, fins, and a snorkel, just to cover the basics. Getting set up can be tricky, since you’ll have lots of options to choose from!
Plus, your equipment all needs to work together to help you snorkel smoothly. If you’re not an expert, it can be hard to know where to look for quality equipment that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
We’ve put this guide together to take you through everything you need to know about snorkeling gear. We’ll show you all our favorite individual items, as well as some convenient package options.
We’ve written our own in-depth reviews of all our recommendations, and put together a guide to help you narrow down your options as you shop!
We know you’ve got lots of questions, so let’s get right to it! Here are our overall top three picks for gear, whether you’re looking for just a snorkel, or to get all your gear in one fell swoop:
The Benefits of Sets vs. Individual Pieces
Snorkel gear is sold both as individual components and in the form of bundles, which usually include most or all of the components you’ll need to get started. All snorkel sets will come with a mask and a snorkel, and many come with a pair of fins as well.
Sets have a few benefits. The main advantage is, of course, cost! As with most things in life, snorkel gear is simply cheaper when it’s sold together. You’ll save money on each component by buying them all together, and those savings can be pretty substantial. They’re simply a convenient way to buy your gear.
A package tends to be the best solution for people who are snorkeling on a vacation, or trying it for the first time. Plus, when packages are put together by the manufacturer, care and effort goes into choosing components which work well together! A given package will have components that suit the same skill level, activity style, and budget range.
As a general rule, new snorkelers, people who are going on snorkeling trips over vacation, and people who don’t have too many specific needs can do very well shopping for a package. If you have specific needs in just one area, though, you can get a set with two components, and purchase the third separately.
For instance, if you want a general purpose snorkel and mask, but need stiffer fins for swimming against currents, you could buy a package and a separate pair of fins.
On the other hand, there are a few advantages to buying components individually as well. First, packages are built for the average person in a given category. That means that they might not fit you perfectly. Masks in particular fit differently on each face, and a one-size-fits-all approach is sometimes a poor choice.
Buying separate components allows you to suit each component to your specific needs! You can choose the style of mask that best suits your face, for instance, and pair it with fins which suit your strength level and swimming style.
Instead of approximating or compromising, you can get a perfect fit in each area! Just be aware that to shop for your own components, you’ll need to have a clear idea of exactly what you need and want from each component. For instance, you might want a longer, dive-style fin, but with a more flexible construction than a full technical fin, so that it’s comfortable for longer trips.
In general, we think it’s a better idea for casual snorkelers to buy packages, and for more advanced swimmers (especially people who also dive) to buy components individually. Most components that are sold as part of a package won’t be a good choice for diving.
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Best Mask and Snorkel Set
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Best Snorkel Set Reviews
This budget set comes with a mask and snorkel pairing that’s perfect for introducing new snorkelers to the water. It’s ideal for people who are shopping for kids, or looking for something to take on their vacation.
The lenses are made from tempered glass, just like the more expensive models. It’s safety glass, which makes it super safe for people who are new to it, especially kids.
The silicone edges on this mask are double-layered, with a spread, feathered design. That’s twice the seal of single-layer masks. The silicone material seals easily and securely, without feeling too firm or uncomfortable.
The headstrap has a push-button adjustment feature which makes it easy to tighten or loosen the fit of the mask even when you’ve got gloves on. We also like that the attachment points where the strap meets the frame of the mask swivel.
The best feature of the strap is the split design, which holds to the back of your head in two places. That complements the natural curve of your skull, and prevents the mask from slipping off or loosening (which could break the seal).
It’s a low-volume mask that fits close to the face, so you get a wide field of vision without seeing the frame of the mask around the edges. We particularly like the low cutouts under the eyes, which give you excellent downward vision.
While this isn’t a dry-valve version, it does have a splash guard at the top of the intake tube to prevent any water from getting to your mouth.
The mask also has a simple pocket adjustment for equalizing your ear pressure. That’s a nice feature which you won’t find on many competitors’ masks, even the more expensive models.
The snorkel has an oval-shaped top opening for streamlined performance with minimal drag.
At the mouthpiece, there’s a one-way self-draining purge valve for getting rid of any water that might sneak in the intake tube. You can easily blow out any excess water, without any more entering the mouthpiece.
There’s a simple, one-touch clasp which connects the snorkel to the mask. That makes it easy to connect and disconnect when you’re on the go. The lower part of the tube, including the mouthpiece, also swings out of the way for scuba diving, if you’re going to be submerging with the same mask.
It’s extremely inexpensive. This package is available for less than you’d spend on most individual pieces of equipment.
While Phantom Aquatics does market this set as being scuba-compatible, it’s really not a good choice for diving. While you could certainly do some shallower dives, the feathered silicone edges tend to collapse in a bit under higher pressure. That doesn’t affect the seal, but it does make this one a bit less comfortable than a real scuba mask.
The snorkel has a splash guard, but it’s not a “dry” snorkel. It won’t block water if you swim under the surface, so this one’s only a good choice for swimming at the surface.
Some buyers found the clasp connection system between the snorkel and the mask tricky to use.
As with some other packages at this price, quality control isn’t great. We found some reports from previous buyers who said that their masks leaked, or had faulty purge valves. Overall, we found that even buyers who liked the set said that the purge valve simply didn’t work as well as nicer models. It sometimes required a bit more force to clear the water out.
This ProDive set is priced similarly to the Phantom Aquatics kit, but it’s slightly better in a few departments. It stays fog-free more consistently, it has a dry valve in the snorkel, and the set comes with a waterproof carrying case to keep the mask and snorkel in. We think it’s a better choice for choppier, splashier environments, as well as people who want to occasionally go underwater.
Like the Phantom Aquatics, the ProDive’s mask uses tempered glass for its viewing window. It has the clarity of glass, but it’s impact and shatter resistant to keep your eyes safe. It can handle impact, scratching, and deep water pressure equally well. The skirting edges are soft silicone, and the straps are adjustable to help find a proper seal.
The lens is coated with a fog-resistant material. While most masks will require you to do some sort of treatment with dish soap or shampoo before you hit the water, this one’s good out of the box. Some reviewers gave it a wash anyway, but we found that most previous buyers didn’t have any issues with fog.
The snorkel is “dry”, which means that it has a special intake valve to block any water from entering the top of the tube. That’s especially important for people who want to occasionally dive under the surface.
It’s also just a more reliable way to keep water out of your mouth than a splash guard or other feature. This model also has a purge valve at the mouthpiece, like the Phantom Aquatics.
We also prefer the mouthpiece on this model to the Phantom Aquatics, since it’s adjustable. Mouthpieces are a very subjective experience, so it’s nice to have some wiggle room for you to find your perfect fit!
It’s all covered by a satisfaction guarantee, which means that if you’re not completely satisfied, you can return it for a full refund. Reviewers who ran into issues said that the company was very prompt in sending out refunds or replacements. That satisfaction guarantee is for life, which is something of a rarity at this price point.
Previous buyers said that the mask was very easy to fit to a variety of faces. They said that this was a great set to use for the whole family, from 9-year olds to grandparents.
It’s almost as cheap as the Phantom Aquatics.
Feedback from previous buyers was overwhelmingly positive. They said all the components felt surprisingly well-made, and were particularly impressive given the price.
As with the Phantom Aquatics, some buyers of the ProDive set said they had issues with quality control. A couple of reviewers mentioned broken straps, leaky masks, or snorkels with faulty valves. However, the percentage of reviewers who had problems was actually lower than with the Phantom Aquatics model.
While lots of reviewers complimented the fit of the mask, some said they simply couldn’t get a seal. The silicone skirt is wide and soft enough to fit most faces, but the single edge is a bit less foolproof than the Phantom Aquatics’ double-edged skirt.
This Cressi set provides a big upgrade in quality over the ProDive and the Phantom Aquatics, even though it doesn’t cost too much more. While the other two sets are made in China, this one’s made completely in Italy.
It’s smartly designed by a company with excellent quality control and a very impressive warranty. You get a mask, dry snorkel, and a carrying case for a very reasonable price.
It’s made completely in Italy! The mask, snorkel, and even the included carrying bag are all made by a family-owned Italian company that’s a real stalwart of the dive market.
Because it’s made in Europe, you can be assured of higher-end, better-quality silicone and other materials than you’d find on the cheaper Chinese versions. Plus, Cressi has much better quality control. That means you’ll see far fewer reports of leaks or other issues than with the Chinese options! That’s not even getting into the added ethical benefit of supporting proper workplace standards and pay in the E.U. Overall, the fact that this kit is made by a true diving company is a major plus.
Like the DivePro, this Cressi set features a dry snorkel. The valve on this one has a much better track record than the ProDive, which is down to smarter design and better construction. Previous buyers said it felt very secure, and rarely if ever let even a drop of water into the mouthpiece! In the case that any water does get in, you can use the same purge valve we saw on the cheaper models.
As with the dry valve, the purge valve is a smarter, more reliable feature than on our cheaper recommendations. Previous buyers reported that both valves were surprisingly effective, even in rough or choppy water!
It also has a flexible midsection, to help it stay in place as you move around.
The mask is a similar design to the other models we’ve looked at. It has tempered glass lenses, which are separated in the middle by a bridge support which makes the Cressi more durable than other entry masks. The strap is wide, so it doesn’t slip out of place. It’s also completely adjustable, and previous buyers said it fit very easily to most faces. In fact, we hardly found any complaints about the fit or seal of the mask!
On the whole, previous buyers said they were very impressed by the quality difference between this set and other cheap kits they’d used as rentals or had bought from resort stands. The best part is that it’s barely any more expensive than the cheapo sets.
It’s all covered by a 2-year warranty.
Some previous buyers found the mask rather small. They said that it fit too snugly on their head, and pressed into their faces too hard. This seems to be an issue only for people with larger than average heads.
One or two buyers had issues with breakages. However, most people didn’t report any problems. And, of course, any problems would be covered by the warranty for the first two years.
You’ll want to treat the inside of the mask, or at least give it a wash before you start snorkeling to make sure it stays fog free. Previous buyers said that even a quick spit treatment does the job.
This Seavenger kit is our cheapest recommendation for a package with a pair of fins in the box. It features a dry-valve snorkel, single-window mask, and a pair of soft, flexible fins for staying comfortable all day long.
We think that this set is a bargain, given what you get in the package. There’s also a case thrown in to pack your snorkel kit.
It’s a dry snorkel, like the Cressi and the ProDive. Previous buyers said the valve on this one works very well, and we only found one or two reviews from buyers whose snorkels didn’t work properly. Like the others, this one has a curved flex section, a streamlined air piece, and a silicone mouthpiece for comfort.
The snorkel has a quick-release tab for locking onto the mask. Previous buyers said it was more intuitive and convenient than the catches on other cheap models they had used!
The mask is a broad-view, single-window design, pretty identical to the ProDive or Phantom Aquatics. It uses very similar swivel buckles, with an adjustable strap and a silicone skirt.
The vast majority of previous buyers reported that they got a clean, comfortable seal without issue. The window is made from the same tempered glass as the other models we’ve looked at, and it provides great visibility without fogging.
It comes with a pair of fins. That’s super convenient, and sure to please people who want one package that covers everything for their snorkeling adventures. We like the open heel design on these flippers. The open heel has a backstrap to keep them on your feet, and it also allows you to adjust to find your perfect fit within a size. That’s more flexible than closed-heel dive flippers.
Overall, open heel designs are often more comfortable, since they have vents and room for adjustments. That’s why we prefer them for snorkeling! You get three sizes to choose from. Each covers about 3 different shoe sizes. That makes for a custom fit for you, and it also means you can share these with friends and family.
The fins are soft and pliable, without feeling flimsy. They work well with pretty much any kicking style, and have just enough power to keep you moving without feeling uncomfortable. We think they’re a great choice for recreational snorkeling, and they’re comfortable enough for day-long trips.
It comes with a waterproof carrying case, like the Cressi and the ProDive. We also like the shoulder strap on this bag, although you probably aren’t buying your package based on the carrying case!
The best part about this set is the wide range of color options. You get ten different combinations to choose from, which is great for families going on vacation. You can each have gear that matches your own style, and it’ll be easy to tell everybody’s gear apart.
This kit is twice the price of the Phantom Aquatics set.
It’s all made in China. While we found that the overwhelming majority of buyers were pleased with the quality of the components in this set, it’s a bit less durable than the Cressi set we just looked at. It’s also not covered by a warranty.
These fins are great for snorkeling, but we do want to point out that they’re not powerful enough for water sports or diving. You’d need something a bit stiffer, with a closed heel.
As with nearly every mask on the market, some Seavenger buyers just couldn’t get a good seal on their face.
5. Cressi Panoramic
This package offers fantastic visibility and breathability. The Cressi Panoramic is actually one of our favorite masks for diving as well as snorkeling, since it provides such a great view underwater.
Having it in a package is a great bargain, since it offers expert-level quality at an entry-level price. This is a set you can buy for snorkeling, and keep for when you start diving!
The Panoramic mask has a unique design which provides one of the best views we’ve ever seen on a diving mask. It’s the same basic shape as the other masks we’ve looked at, but it extends further around the edges of your face.
The huge difference is that the panels are flat, not curved. That means that you don’t have the slight fish-eye effect you get with most other wraparound designs.
We like the Cressi because it shows you the underwater sights as they really are! The joints between the side panels and main front panel are engineered to eliminate any disturbance between the panels.
We like that this model includes a double-feathered skirt around the edges. It’s a nice plus over the cheaper Cressi, as well as the ProDive. The double edging makes it a much more secure fit on your face, which means a much smaller chance of leaks.
It’s also an important feature to have if you’re planning on using this model for diving, as well! The skirt extends well above your eye sockets, so it doesn’t press into your bow uncomfortably.
The mask strap has a quick-adjust ratchet feature, which makes tightening and loosening very easy.
On the whole, people who had used cheaper masks in the past said that the Cressi was simply better in every regard. It fit more comfortably, leaked far less, and didn’t have the bad chemical smell that lots of cheap masks come with out of the box. They had the same praise for the snorkel.
While the Chinese-made options are technically made from the same material (silicone), they do tend to be a bit cheaper overall. That generally means a stinky smell or taste for the first few swims at least. No such problems with the Cressi!
The snorkel in this set is just as great as the mask. It’s a dry model, with a valve to stop any water coming in the top of your tube. It also has a purge valve in the mouthpiece, and a flexible midsection, like our other recommendations. Previous buyers wrote that while the purge valve worked very well, they very rarely actually used it. The dry valve works that well!
There are even more color options that with the Seavenger. This one has 12 different combinations to pick from!
As with other Cressi products, this set is covered by a 2-year warranty and an excellent reputation for quality control.
As with our other recommendation, we found that a few isolated buyers didn’t like the fit of the mask. The flat front lens is designed to fit close to the face, so as to present a perfect image. However, some reviewers wanted a bit more of a gap between their face and the lens. They said they would have appreciated a slightly thicker skirt in that area. On the other hand, the vast majority of buyers found the mask exceedingly comfortable.
While it does work well for most divers, it’s not going to be a good choice for advanced or technical adventures. For those conditions, we’d recommend a frameless model like the Cressi F1, which is even lower volume. The size of the Panoramic works very well at casual and recreational depths, but high pressures at lower depths could make it a bit cumbersome.
A couple reviewers had issues with the silicone strap breaking. However, it seems like a very isolated issue.
Previous buyers said the Panoramic required a few treatments with shampoo or spit to make it truly fog-free. That’s true of most masks, but some reviewers found it annoying.
Our all-time favorite gear package comes from Cressi as well. It’s a compact, lightweight set that’s perfect for travel. It comes with fins, a mask, and a snorkel, all in a very packable bag.
The Palau long fins are versatile, powerful, and adjustable to suit all sorts of swimmers and conditions. The mask is a simple, low volume design with a snug, comfortable fit and a secure backstrap. Overall, this is simply the perfect set for people who fly to their snorkel destinations!
The Palau fins provide surprising power and agility from a small, travel-friendly package. They’re supple and flexible, but with a longer length and a snappier response than some other travel models. We particularly like that the blade extends above the foot pocket.
That gives you a lot more surface area to work with in proportion to the fins’ total length. The resulting kick is fluid and untiring, while giving you superior propulsion. Previous buyers said they were surprisingly powerful, and much less heavy and bulky than other fins they had used before!
As with the Seavenger fins, the Cressis are open-heeled and adjustable. They fit a couple different shoe sizes in each fin size, so it’s easy to get a precise fit. Plus, you can share your fins!
The best part is that all that fin power is packed into a 21” length that’s perfect for tucking into your carry-on bag.
The snorkel is a dry model, very similar to the one in the Panoramic set. It has a silicone mouthpiece, flexible mid-section, and a snap bracket to attach to your mask. Previous buyers had nothing but praise for this one, and most said that water never once came in the top valve.
The Onda mask is a super low-volume model with a close fit that provides a goggle-like view with the extra comfort and protection of the mask shape. It has a feathered, silicone skirt for better sealing.
We especially like the strap on this one, which is divided in the back to better fit the natural curve of your head. Like our other recommendations, it’s all made from tempered glass and silicone. We think it’s ideal for snorkeling as well as scuba diving. A great choice for all aquatic activities!
Overall, this set has an extraordinarily high rating from previous buyers. Nearly 100% of buyers gave it 5 stars, and we couldn’t find any serious complaints about it anywhere! They said the fins were compact but adept, and the snorkel breathed easily. The mask fit comfortably and securely, and the price was very reasonable given the quality of the equipment.
The fins in this set aren’t as soft as some others, particularly closed-heel designs. That’s because they’re a hybrid material, instead of pure rubber. While most buyers found them quite comfortable with bare feet, a few others said they would be wearing them with socks or boots. With that said, we also read plenty of reviews from buyers who said that even their sensitive heels were perfectly fine in these fins.
The Onda mask in this set is perfectly suitable for scuba diving, but the fins are not. They’re a bit on the stiffer side, which gives them their power in a compact design. However, it does mean they’d be tiring for longer swims and ascensions.
It’s the most expensive set here, by quite a bit. This one can cost twice what the Seavenger will run you. Previous buyers were quick to stress that the superior quality of the Cressi components made them well worth the upgrade, but budget buyers may not be able to afford this set. It’s also a bit expensive for a one-time vacation kit. We recommend this to people who snorkel often and want something for the long haul.
Best Snorkeling Gear Reviews
As we’ve said, it makes sense in many cases to buy each piece of your gear individually. If you’re going to take that approach, we’ve put together some reviews of our favorites. They’ll make it easy to come up with your own set of gear!
Our cheapest recommendation comes from Phantom Aquatics, just like our cheapest package choice. It’s a basic dry-top design with a purge valve and dry valve. While it’s not the fanciest one in the world, it’s one of the cheapest dry models you can buy, and it works much better than others at this price!
The oval-shaped breathing tube makes this more streamlined than other snorkels. It creates less drag, and requires less effort from you as you swim.
It has a flexible joint section which moves naturally with you. You can also use it as a swing-away feature to switch between a snorkel and a scuba regulator. That’s good for people who do a bit of both diving and snorkeling, and want to conveniently store their snorkel on their mask.
It’s a dry snorkel. There’s a sealing valve at the top of the tube to prevent water getting in when you’re underwater. As with all the other dry models we’ve looked at, there’s also a purge valve in the mouthpiece, so you can easily expel any water that gets inside. Previous buyers said it worked much better than other dry models they had used for the price.
The mouthpiece is angled for comfort, and made from silicone. We like that you can replace the mouthpiece easily with another, to suit your preference. Previous buyers found it soft and comfortable, and we found that the vast majority stuck with the factory mouthpiece.
It’s extremely affordable. It makes a great one-time vacation purchase, or a good starter model for people who haven’t tried it before.
Some buyers found that the narrow oval shape of the tube made breathing a bit difficult. This definitely isn’t a good choice for anyone with breathing issues, or for doing strong or athletic swimming. A few buyers bought this for lap swimming and were disappointed. Remember that most snorkels are designed for light, casual swimming, not for working out at the pool.
While most buyers concurred that the dry valve on this model worked much better than other budget dry models, we did find a few reports of faulty valves which leaked or stuck. This is definitely on the cheaper end of the spectrum, so there are some issues with quality control.
This Cressi model provides some upgrades in build quality and design. It’s an ergonomic dry model with an all-silicone mouthpiece, corrugated pipe, and Italian build quality.
We think it’s the better budget buy for long-term value, so if you can spend the extra few dollars, you’ll probably be better off with the Supernova.
Like the Phantom Aquatics, this is a dry snorkel. It has a valve at the top of the breathing tube to prevent water getting in when you’re under the surface. When you’re at surface level, there’s a splash guard to keep any water getting into the open valve. That’s a big upgrade over the Phantom. Previous buyers said they hardly ever needed to use the purge feature, since the valve and splash guard worked so well.
The purge valve has an enlarged collection chamber and an enlarged elliptical valve to make expelling any excess water easier.
This one has a corrugated curve on the pipe to give it the same flexibility as the Phantom Aquatics model. The whole of the pipe is hydrodynamical in design to help it move more easily through the water, and it’s also been designed with anatomical considerations in mind. It’s angled naturally with your head as you swim.
The mouthpiece is made from soft silicone. We like it because it’s not as bulky as other mouthpieces, and it rests easily in the mouth without you having to clamp down constantly. It’s also angled to reduce pressure in your mouth while you breathe.
It comes in more than a dozen different color combinations. All of them are two-tone, with either a black or clear tube. The color flashes at the mouthpiece and air valve add a bit of personality and flair.
You can also choose a kids’ sized version. That’s a great option if you’re shopping for your family vacation, or introducing a young one to snorkeling for the first time!
It has a quick-connect bracket for attaching it to any Cressi (or compatible) mask. You can also swing the pipe of it aside without detaching the whole unit. That allows you to switch back and forth between a snorkel and a scuba regulator.
It’s all made in Italy. That means better quality control and more reputable materials than other models at this price! Sure enough, we found far fewer reliability complaints and comments about chemical odors or taste with the Cressi than the Phantom.
It’s covered by a 2-year warranty.
Some previous buyers had issues with sticking dry valves. They either closed unintentionally, or got clogged with sand. We found that sand was the culprit in most cases, so you’ll want to be wary of that.
A few reviewers found the whole thing a bit big and clunky. It’s designed to be compatible with larger faces, so some smaller individuals might find it large.
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This dry snorkel is incredibly well-rated by reviewers. It’s a similar design to the Cressi Supernova, with a long, flexible windpipe and dry valve to keep water out of your mouthpiece as you snorkel. It’s on the larger end of the spectrum, so we recommend it to larger users who don’t like having to clamp down on smaller ones to keep them secure.
It uses a very simple but effective dry valve design to keep water out of the breathing tube. There’s a floating ball which plugs the end while you’re underwater, and releases when you’re above water. Most previous buyers said it worked very well. Like the Cressi and the Phantom Aquatics, the Kraken also has a one-way purge valve in the mouthpiece for expelling any leaky water.
The quick release mask clip is compatible with pretty much any mask. That’s a big advantage over some other models, which only work with masks of the same brand. This one’s a good choice for people who have a generic or off-brand diving mask, which won’t be compatible with a snorkel from Cressi or other big diving names.
It’s larger than the Phantom Aquatics or the Supernova, so you’ll get a bit more air through this one. It’s a better choice for people with breathing issues, who need a slightly larger supply of air.
Like the Cressi, it has a solid tube with a flexible joint section. The Kraken uses silicone in the joint to lend some flexibility without it feeling flimsy. The joint section swings out of the way to let you use your scuba regulator without detaching your snorkel from your mask.
It only comes in black.
It’s a bit more expensive than the Cressi, and there’s no particularly good reason that we can see for the extra cost. However it is larger, so some people might find the sheer size of the Kraken a benefit.
It’s an off-brand from China, and while it’s very popular, it has some spotty quality control issues. We found a few reviews from people who had problems with leaks from the mouthpiece. There are also come reports that the the dry valve doesn’t work super well in fresh water.
Since it’s on the larger side, some reviewers found it a bit big and clunky. They also found that the mouthpiece was awkwardly large. As with the Supernova, we wouldn’t recommend the Kraken to buyers with relatively small heads.
This FINIS snorkel is probably the most distinctive of our recommendations. It comes from a company that was founded by one of the great Olympic swimmers of the 20th century, Pablo Morales.
This snorkel has a modified central air feed design which was designed for competitive swimming. We like it for snorkeling in rougher conditions or against a current, when you need a stronger air supply than a normal snorkel can provide.
It has a central air feed tube. That allows you to swim completely unimpeded by anything at the side of your head. While the design was intended to help competitive swimmers perfect their technique and balance without turning their head, it’s also a more balanced design for recreational snorkeling jaunts.
The windpipe is also designed like a blade out in front of your face, so it really slices through the water. It’s even more dynamic than the oval-shaped tube on the Cressi Supernova.
The windpipe is larger than average. This model was designed for competitive swimmers, so you can be assured that you’ll get plenty of air. that’s why we like it for snorkeling trips when you’ll need to work a bit harder! It’s ideal for snorkeling against a current or eddy. It’s also our favorite choice for anyone with asthma or other breathing difficulties.
One other benefit of the competitive design aspects is that this one’s pretty much impossible to knock out of place! This one comes with its own strap, rather than just latching onto your mask’s strap. That makes it much more secure.
Like our other recommendations, the FINIS has a purge valve to clear water, and a splash guard at the top of the tube.
We’ve been looking at the FINIS from the point of view of recreational snorkeling. It’s great for that, but we should also point out that it excels at its intended purpose, which is lap swimming and competitive strokes. If you swim laps at your local pool regularly, this is a good choice for you! You can take it on vacation to see the oceanic sights, then bring it home for your daily swim workout.
Obviously, having the windpipe located in front of you can be a bit of a visibility distraction. We’ve found that it fits close to the mask so as to keep from blocking view, but some reviewers definitely found it distracting. Again, this is a bit of an oddity as far as the rest of the market, and most buyers either loved or hated it.
The same goes for the headpiece and mouthpiece. They’re a distinctive design, and they simply may not be for everybody.
The other big downside to this model is that it’s not a dry snorkel. This one has a splash protector, but no dry valve, since it’s designed to be on the surface. This isn’t a good choice for going below the surface, unless you clear it after each dive.
Some previous buyers said they ended up using the purge valve more than they would have liked, because water got in the splash guard. With that said, those reviewers were testing the FINIS in the context of competitive swimming. You shouldn’t have as much splashing to worry about in a recreational snorkeling setting.
It’s fairly expensive. This one’s twice the price of the Phantom Aquatics.
This Aqua Lung snorkel is a real user-friendly, ergonomic winner. It has a specially designed mouthpiece and flexible tube which make it extremely comfortable for longer snorkel trips and day-long adventures.
We particularly like the easy-to-use purge valve on this model, which clears water more effectively and with less effort than other models. It’s a smartly-designed, super-dry snorkel for people who go on lots of snorkel adventures.
The patented mouthpiece design improves upon the generic silicone components you’ll find on most other models. The Aqua Lung’s mouthpiece is designed to reduce jaw fatigue with an anatomical shape and a low-stress angle that fits naturally into your mouth as you swim.
There’s also a smaller version of the mouthpiece available, which will provide a more comfortable alternative for people with a smaller than average jaw size. We really like having that option, since the one-size-fits-all mouthpieces on other snorkels can be quite uncomfortable for kids or people with smaller jaws.
The windpipe is bored out for minimal resistance as you breathe. When it comes to airway efficiency, this one performs nearly as well as the FINIS. Previous buyers found this model much less restrictive than other snorkels they had used in the past.
It’s a much drier snorkel than the other “dry” models we looked at here. While the Cressi Supernova and the Kraken have splash guards in addition to their dry valves, the Aqua Lung has a secondary annular valve feature which does an even better job. It diverts any splashing water that enters the windpipe through a second port. That keeps it free of the mouthpiece, and allows it to drain out a separate channel.
As with our other recommendations, if any water does find its way to the mouthpiece, the large reservoir and efficient purge valve help you get rid of it fast. All those little design tweaks make the Impulse 3 a more reliably dry snorkel than our other recommendations.
We’re super impressed with the purge valve on the Aqua Lung. Previous buyers report that it’s much easier to use than cheaper dry snorkels. Some other models require a big push to clear the valve. The Aqua Lung just needs one puff.
Overall, previous buyers said that while the AquaLung cost them a bit more money than the budget or entry-level models, they noticed a big difference in quality. They noted that the dry valve didn’t close accidentally with a splash or a wave, which can block breath on some cheaper options. The mouthpiece fit more comfortably, and seemed more smartly designed. The windpipe valves did a much better job at keeping water from getting in, and the purge valve was much easier to use and much more effective at getting water out. Previous buyers overwhelmingly agreed that the Impulse 2 was simply more fun and less of a hassle to use than the cheaper alternatives.
It’s fairly expensive. This one, like the FINIS, is twice the price of our cheapest recommendations.
A couple buyers have pointed out that the strap clip on this model is a bit of a letdown. Considering the smart design and high build quality of the other components, the strap just isn’t up to par. It’s harder to use and more finicky than other straps, like the Cressi models.
Our top quality recommendation for an individual snorkel is the Cressi Alpha Ultra-Dry. It’s as effective as the Aqua Lung at keeping water out of your mouth piece, and it has an even more user-friendly, ergonomic design!
Previous buyers agreed that the Alpha is simply a pleasure to use. We especially love the Cressi’s Italian build quality and excellent warranty coverage. If you’re looking for the absolute best snorkel to build your kit around, this is for you!
It’s made entirely in Italy. The Cressi’s components are all made in the E.U. to a high standard of ethical practices, environmental regulations, and most importantly-quality control.
That’s a big contrast to the Aqua Lung or FINIS, which are made in China. The Cressi uses higher-grade silicone than the Chinese alternatives. In contrast to some of our cheaper recommendations, we didn’t find any complaints about chemical smells or tastes with this one. Also, we couldn’t find any complaints about quality control with the Alpha, which is pretty impressive.
Like the Cressi Supernova, this is an all-silicone model, from the mouthpiece to the end of the air feed. All-silicone snorkels are safer to use and last longer than cheaper models with PVC windpipes.
The flexible section of the windpipe is corrugated to give you lots of flexibility. That reduces mouth strain, and allows for a more natural range of motion in the water. It’s made from the same soft silicone as the mouthpiece. This flex section is similar to the curved sections on our other recommendations. However, previous buyers agreed that with the Alpha, Cressi had struck a superior compromise between flexibility and sturdiness (some buyers found cheaper flex sections too flimsy).
The air tube has a wide bore, like the Aqua Lung and the FINIS. It provides you plenty of air, with minimal resistance.
It’s a super-dry snorkel, like the Aqua Lung. This one has a specially designed tip which keeps splashes and waves at bay. It also contains an upgraded dry valve over our cheaper recommendations.
We like it because it has a very snappy response, and closes as soon as you go under the water line. We especially like that it’s silicone instead of a floaty ball. Silicone allows for a total seal, instead of a near-block.
The purge valve is also as efficient and easy to use as the Aqua Lung’s. Overall, previous buyers said that the valve system worked perfectly, and impressed them no end! Experienced snorkelers and novices alike said this was the best they’d ever used.
The silicone mouthpiece is super soft for comfort, and it’s angled ergonomically to reduce jaw fatigue over longer expeditions. Previous buyers said it was softer and more flexible than other mouthpieces. That made it less awkward and intrusive for them to use.
Unlike the AquaLung, the Cressi Alpha has a mask clip that matches the quality of its other components. The clasp on this one is adjustable, and will connect with pretty much any mask on the market! Previous buyers said it was simple and easy to use.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty. This is the only one of our more expensive options to have a warranty period (the Cressi Supernova is the only other snorkel here that’s covered by warranty).
It’s fairly expensive. We’d recommend this one to people who snorkel often and at length.
One or two reviewers reported some issues with a sticky valve. That can happen when sand or other material gunks up the airway. Since the overwhelming majority of buyers didn’t have any issues, we think it’s a circumstantial issue rather than a problem with the design.
Which is the Best Snorkeling Equipment for You?
If you’re buying a package:
If you’re shopping on a budget, the Phantom Aquatics or the ProDive are your best bets. The Phantom Aquatics is the cheaper of the two, so we’re recommending it to people on the tightest budget.
If you can spend a bit more, though, we highly recommend the ProDive. It has a dry valve and anti-fog coating which make it easier and more pleasant to use. Plus, the price points are pretty close.
The Cressi Marea or Cressi Panoramic are both excellent choices for people who want a high-end mask and snorkel combination, but who will be buying fins separately.
Both of these masks are low-profile, comfortable, and easy to seal. Both sets come with similar dry snorkels, and they’re both made in Italy.
The Marea set is a bit less expensive, so it’s the best choice for people who want to get Italian-made components without spending too much money. The Panoramic will cost a bit more but we think it gives you better visibility than the Marea. The Panoramic also comes with lots more color options, so it’s a good choice for families who want to buy several sets that will be easy to tell apart.
If you’re looking for something with fins, we strongly recommend either the Seavenger or the Cressi Travel set. Both sets come with a dry snorkel, mask, and a pair of open-heel fins. The Seavenger is the clear choice for budget buyers, since it’s cheaper than the Cressi package.
The Cressi is more expensive, but we think it’s by far the highest quality set here. The fins are more comfortable, more efficient, and more packable for people who are taking them on air travel. All the parts are made in Italy, instead of China, and Cressi cover their gear with a 2-year warranty.
Overall, we think the Cressi Travel set is the best you can do. However, the price may be a barrier for some more casual buyers.
If you’re buying an individual snorkel:
The Phantom Aquatics is the cheapest of our recommendations. It’s an easy purchase for people who need some vacation gear that they may not use more than once.
The low price also makes this an ideal choice for introducing new swimmers and kids to snorkeling. On the downside, it’s a bit more constrictive in the windpipe than our other recommendations, and the dry valve isn’t as reliable as some other models. We recommend it to buyers on the tightest of budgets.
If you’re able to spend a few dollars more, we think the Cressi Supernova offers a pretty good upgrade over the Phantom in terms of both design and build quality. The valve on the Supernova is more reliable, and it’s made completely in Italy.
The other major benefit is that the Cressi is covered by a long, 2-year warranty period, while the Phantom is not. That makes it a great choice for budget buyers or casual vacationers who want something a bit nicer and more reliable without breaking the bank.
The Kraken might not be quite as nicely made as the Cressi Supernova, but it offers an expanded windpipe that provides more air than the Phantom or the Supernova. That makes it a great choice for people who need a less constricted air supply.
The Kraken isn’t particularly sophisticated (it has a ball valve at the end of the windpipe), but it’s a big, solid, affordable choice for people who want a no-nonsense snorkel with plenty of air.
The FINIS is our recommendation to people who want to use their snorkel for competitive or lap swimming in addition to sightseeing. It provides the largest air supply of our recommendations, and it’s nearly impossible to knock out of position.
However, the FINIS is a rather idiosyncratic design, and it may not be for everyone. The front-facing windpipe could be a visual distraction, and this model isn’t a dry snorkel.
The Aqua Lung Impulse 3 is one of the best-designed snorkels here. It provides a big upgrade in quality from the Phantom, Kraken, and our other cheaper recommendations. We especially like the secondary dry valve feature, which keeps this model drier than the Supernova and the other budget options.
Overall, Impulse buyers say it’s much more enjoyable to use, since it eliminates much of the need to purge or adjust the snorkel. The one big downside of the Impulse is that while it’s one of the most expensive choices here, it’s still made in China.
The Cressi Alpha combines the smart design of the Impulse with the superior Italian build quality of the Supernova. It has a nice wide windpipe like the FINIS, while maintaining a more streamlined design. It’s comfortable, ergonomic, and effective at staying dry — everything a great snorkel should be.
The Alpha is the most expensive snorkel we’re recommending, but it makes your snorkeling trips more enjoyable and less of a procedure. It’s probably overkill for casual daytrippers and one-time users, but we think it’s the perfect choice for serious, regular snorkelers.
How to Choose Good Snorkeling Gear
Choose between a package and a component setup:
As we’ve said, the biggest decision you’ll need to make is whether to buy a snorkeling set, or to build your own set from individual components. To reiterate, the big advantage of buying a package is the cost savings. It’s just plain cheaper to buy a package, and it’s a lot more convenient for casual buyers.
On the other hand, individual components give snorkelers who know what they want a lot more range to pick pieces that suit their own preferences. If you’re a new snorkeler, or a casual vacation adventurer, we’d recommend a kit. If you’re a frequent snorkeler, or someone who dabbles in diving or other water sports, we recommend buying components separately.
Decide on your budget:
Your cheapest options are packages that include a mask and snorkel, but no fins. You’ll pay more for something that includes a pair of fins as well.
On the whole, you’ll pay more for packages whose components are made in Europe rather than China. You’ll also find that more expensive kits have more reliable and sophisticated snorkels, with dry valves which perform more consistently and safely. The most expensive kits have fins which are comfortable, versatile, and packable for snorkeling getaways.
The cheapest models are open or semi-dry snorkels, which have an open or somewhat shielded airway. They won’t block water if you dive beneath the surface, but they provide a reasonable snorkeling experience to people who will be staying at the surface of the water.
You’ll pay more for dry snorkels, and you’ll find that the more expensive the model, the more sophisticated and reliable the dry valve and splash protection will be. More expensive snorkels are made with higher-grade silicone, and have better quality control.
Think about fit:
Snorkels all have their own unique shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to find one that best suits your head and mouth. You’ll want to have some idea whether your jaw is on the larger or smaller end of the spectrum. That way, you can find a snorkel that fits you appropriately.
If the snorkel is too small, it can be hard to keep in your mouth without clenching your jaw constantly. That can lead to cramps and soreness over a longer adventure. If your snorkel is too large, it can be awkward to hold in your mouth, and it could strain your jaw in the opposite direction.
To keep your jaw safe, and your snorkel secure, you’ll want to find one that hits the perfect Goldilocks zone. One pro tip: if you’re looking on the smaller end of the spectrum, but don’t want something with a narrow or constricted windpipe, you can buy a full-size snorkel and swap out the mouthpiece for a smaller model.
Lots of our recommendations allow you to opt for a smaller mouthpiece. Even if your snorkel doesn’t come with the option at the checkout, nearly all snorkels have replaceable mouthpieces. That means you can try it out, and if your mouthpiece fits awkwardly, you can simply replace it afterward with something more suitable.
If you’re buying a snorkel package, you’ll also want to consider how the mask and fins will fit you. When you’re thinking about a mask, you’ll be looking at the size of your head, just like with your snorkel. If you have a wider face, you’ll probably want a larger mask, and vice versa.
Fins are fairly straightforward since they’re sized like shoes. You’ll also find that most snorkeling fins have open heels with adjustable straps. That makes it easy to get an exact fit.
Look for durability:
When you’re shopping for your snorkel and accessories, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying equipment that will last as long as you need it to.
The most important part to look at is the valve feature. We’ve tried to make sure that even the cheapest of our recommendations has a reliable valve. However, you’ll generally find that the more expensive ones have more durable and reliable valves. Look for silicone dry valves, as opposed to plastic or PVC pieces.
The same goes for the windpipe and joint section. The more silicone, the better!
One of the easiest things you can do to ensure you’re buying a durable product is to look at the warranty coverage. Cressi and some other brands offer 1-2 year coverage on even their cheapest snorkels, which is a bargain. However, if you’re just shopping for a vacation or weekend getaway, you probably don’t need something super durable.
The one precaution we would stress is that while it’s always nice to save money, cheap or faulty dry valves can stick or jam, cutting off your airway. That’s a safety hazard, so we recommend spending as much as you can for something you can count on.
How to Put Together the Best Snorkel Set for You
Here’s what you’ll need:
You’ll notice that every one of our snorkel package recommendations comes with a diving mask. That’s because your mask is one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll buy, whether you snorkel or scuba dive.
The human eye can’t physically see in water, so your mask is essential to any aquatic activity. Your mask should fit comfortably, keep water out of your eyes, and give you a clear, unimpeded view of your surroundings. After all, the views are the whole point of snorkeling!
There are hundreds of masks out there, and they can be a bit tricky to tell apart. We’ve put together a whole guide to help you find your ideal one!
It’s a low-volume, high-visibility mask with a sleek frameless design. We love that it fits close to the face, so that the lens doesn’t distort your view in the slightest. The F1 has a tempered glass viewing window, and an all-silicone skirt which wraps around the whole thing to create a seal between your face and the lens.
It provides a buffer without creating any bulk. That’s a big advantage for scuba diving, since it’s less vulnerable to pressure. It also makes for a clearer picture when you’re snorkeling, since you’re looking straight through the lens. It feels like a mask, but it fits close and compact like goggles.
It’s made in Italy with excellent quality control, and backed up by a 2-year warranty. The best part is the price. While this isn’t the cheapest mask out there, it still won’t cost much more than a snorkel! If you’re building your own snorkeling kit, the F1 is a great place to start. Pair it with the Cressi Supernova, or the Alpha Ultra Dry!
Read our full review of the Cressi F1, and check out the rest of our recommendations for the best masks in our special guide!
Whether you’re snorkeling, swimming, or diving, fins are your best friend for moving smoothly through the water. Fins give you the efficiency and the maneuverability of a fish while you’re kicking around on your snorkeling adventures.
For snorkeling, you want a pair of fins that are soft and comfortable enough to use for a few hours at a time without getting sore or tired. At the same time, you need something with enough power and response to keep you moving in currents, and keeping up with friends and family. We’ll go into all the important differences between snorkel fins and scuba fins in our comprehensive guide here!
These hybrid fins combine the comfort of a snorkeling fin with a bit of the length and power of a scuba fin. They give you superior power, stability, and control without the stiffness of a technical fin. That’s thanks to Cressi’s innovative molding process, which allows these to be built from three different materials in one mold!
The Plumas are packed with smart design features, like the way that the blade extends over the foot pocket to give you more practical surface area to kick with. We especially like the added comfort factor of the closed-heel design. It’s much comfier than the strap and buckle on a closed-heel snorkeling fin, particularly for longer expeditions.
Overall, these are a versatile pair that will keep you moving smoothly and surely along. They’re also very affordable. The Pluma’s won’t cost you much more than our nicer snorkel recommendations.
Check out the full, in-depth review, and find more great fins here in our dedicated guide!
While snorkeling doesn’t require nearly as much technical gear as scuba diving, we recommend having a diving watch to take on your snorkeling jaunts. Diving watches are rugged, waterproof, and reliable to keep you on track in the water.
When you’re out snorkeling for the day, it’s important to keep track of time, and make sure you’re safe. Plus, if you’re a frequent snorkeler or scuba diver, it makes sense to have an everyday timepiece you can get wet and not worry about.
One of our favorite dive watches is this Hamilton model:
The Hamilton really hits our sweet spot for a great combination of function and form. It’s a sleeker model than other divers, and it fits easily in with classy vacation clothes or business attire when you’re back home.
At 41mm, it’s only slightly larger than your average stainless steel timepiece, and it’s much less bulky than big diving models. The Hamilton is rated down to 100m, and it has a sapphire crystal for precise, reliable timekeeping. This is an excellent everyday watch that you can take snorkeling without a second thought.
Read our complete review of the Hamilton, and find more of the best dive watches in our guide!
Want to compare more of the top snorkel gear? Check out the best sellers on Amazon!