Dry snorkel or semi-dry for snorkeling? – Learn how to choose the best one

Dry snorkel has many advantages that make snorkeling safer and more comfortable than using a classic J-type tube. This buying guide clarifies the differences between traditional and new dry top models, moreover helps you to decide what type of snorkel is the best to choose.

Why do you need a semi-dry or dry snorkel?

If you are new in the fascinating world of snorkeling, let us help you with a little explanation of how a snorkel works and why you need one. While snorkeling, the main purpose of your activity is observing the underwater life without raising your head out of the water, and this is the point when the necessity of having a good snorkel comes in.

The snorkel is a breathing tube that helps you to breathe air from the surface when you face down and your mouth is under the water. It consists of a tube and a mouthpiece.

Boy is snorkeling wearing mask and snorkel
A good snorkel is an essential part of your equipment

An interesting fact is that the first snorkel we have records about was invented in Greece in 400 AD. Technically, it was a piece of bamboo used for breathing while surface swimming. Luckily, equipment developed a lot and nowadays there are various models available.

Traditional open-tube versions are still in use and work perfectly for certain types of divers, but since water can get into easily, for a safe and comfortable snorkeling experience we recommend using a dry snorkel that won’t let any water enter the tube.

What are the different types of snorkels?

A snorkel might seem to be the simplest piece of your snorkeling equipment, but in fact, there are differences that determine how various models perform in the water. It depends on the underwater activity you intend to do what the best snorkel is for you.

For scuba diving, choosing a semi-dry is the best. Dry snorkels suit the most for snorkeling, while classic J-type snorkels work the best for freediving.

J Type snorkel

The traditional model is technically a simple tube with a mouthpiece at the end. Usually, these classic models are not so ergonomic because of the fixed mouthpiece.

Snorkelers usually find them not comfortable since the top of the tube is open and like this, water can enter easily when a wave comes over you or you turn your head. If you use such a snorkel, it is essential to learn how to clear the snorkel.

Cressi Corsica J Type

  • classic J snorkel from Cressi
  • light and comfortable
  • flexible and foldable
  • anatomical silicone mouthpiece
  • perfect for freediving, spearfishing and scuba diving

However, simple J snorkels have advantages too. They are lightweight and create less drag, therefore these models work the best as freedive snorkels.

Semi-dry snorkel

A semi-dry snorkel has a splash guard on the top of the tube that prevents water entry when a wave comes over, but doesn’t seal the tube.

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This means, that if you submerge, the tube will fill up with water. This feature makes it a good choice for scuba diving. Most semi-dry snorkels also include a flexible tube for the best fit.

Dry snorkel

For casual snorkeling, the best is to choose a dry snorkel. A dry-top snorkel means that there is a special part on the top of the tube that doesn’t let water into the tube when a wave comes over the snorkelers. It completely seals the tube if it is submerged. Since the snorkel remains dry, you can start breathing immediately after resurfacing without clearing the tube.

Aegend dry snorkel

  • bestseller dry snorkel
  • fully submersible
  • comfortable flexi tube
  • paddle dry top completely dry system
  • available in a variety of colors

A modern dry snorkel is usually equipped with a flexible tube part where it connects to the mouthpiece. This provides a more comfortable and ergonomic fit over rigid models.

Dual snorkel Ameo Powerbreather

There is a revolutionary design on the market called dual snorkel tube. The Ameo Powerbreather can be used by recreational swimmers, general snorkelers and by athletes too providing an advanced breathing experience.

With the Ameo Powerbreather dual tube design you inhale from the top tubes and exhale through the bottom. The air channels are completely separate.

Powerbreather from Ameo

  • a revolutionary new dual-tube design for snorkeling and recreational swimming
  • separate air channels for inhaling and exhaling
  • one-way valve system prevents water entry
  • breathe pure fresh air only and never used air that contains CO2

This patented fresh air system guarantees that only fresh air will enter your lungs and prevents inhaling used air containing CO2. The one-way valve opens for inhales only and keeps water out. Like this, you can stop worrying about gulping water.

The complete Ameo Powerbreather set includes different caps for different conditions. For open water swimming in choppy water, use the long vents that provide 1-inch extra length to keep the tube completely dry. The Powerbreather can be used with scuba mask or with swimming goggles. The Ameo Powerbreather Beach is designed for snorkeling and includes a mask and the long vents too. This set provides you a similar breathing experience like a full face snorkeling mask but allows you to equalize on the traditional way.

Tip: to make your snorkel gear complete, read our how to choose mask for snorkeling post too to know what are the best masks! If you need flippers too, the best snorkeling fins guide will help you to find the best!

The best dry snorkel models

Cressi Supernova

The Cressi Supernova Dry snorkel is one of the best-selling models since years. Splash guard and unique100 % dry-top block water from entering the tube in rough sea conditions or even if submerged. Large, easy-to-clear purge valve at the bottom helps to clear the water out of the tube quickly and effortlessly.

Cressi Supernova Dry

  • bestseller Cressi snorkel
  • fully dry system with float mechanism/li>
  • wide, elliptical tube for best airflow
  • easy-to-handle snorkel keeper

Hypoallergenic, replaceable angled silicone mouthpiece and corrugated, large-diameter elliptical tube ensure comfort and function. The quick-release snorkel keeper and ergonomic contoured shape make the Cressi Supernova Dry Snorkel a great choice for any water activity. Available in different colors, and in kids version too (Cressi Mini Dry Snorkel).

Tusa Hyperdry Elite

TUSA Hyperdry Elite II Snorkel combines the best features of the previous TUSA’s snorkels. This model is the refined and more streamlined version. With low-profile dry-top, angled purge chamber and closing the gasket, the tube remains dry in all conditions and you can have a better snorkeling experience.

TUSA Hyper Dry Elite

  • the best TUSA snorkel
  • comfortable and functional/li>
  • ergonomic angled design
  • swiveling buckles, flexible tube

It provides superior performance for snorkelers and divers. Comfort swivel buckles ensure a comfortable fit, while the two-part construction allows the snorkel to rotate and can be attached in horizontal position too. The silicone flexi tube and ortho-consciously hypoallergenic mouthpiece reduce jaw fatigue and increase comfort.

Aegend Dry snorkel

This Aegend dry snorkel with large diameter, advanced dry top valve and splash guard is perfect budget choice for adults. Quick-release buckles provides easy attachment and free customization so the user can set the tube into the most comfortable position.

Aegend Dry snorkel

  • long tube with dry-top and splash guard
  • effortless breathing
  • easy-to-clear 1-way purge valve
  • soft food-grade silicone mouthpiece

The dry top automatically closes when the tube is submerged. When waves crash overhead, the splash guard prevents water from entering into the snorkel.

Cressi Alpha Ultra Dry

Cressi Alpha Ultra Dry is one of the most reliable dry snorkel available today. It allows taking every breath with confidence without worrying about water in the airway. It features a float mechanism that closes when submerged and prevents water from entering the tube.

Cressi Alpha Ultra Dry

  • a great value for money snorkel from Cressi
  • completely dry system with float mechanism
  • elliptical tube for increased airflow
  • 100% high-quality silicone

Once the diver returns to the surface, he/she can continue breathing without having to make the effort to clear out the water. The snorkel has a highly flexible section that reduces jaw fatigue. The wide, elliptical tube increases air flow for effortless breathing.

Thanks to its flexibility, the Cressi Alpha Dry folds completely and therefore, it is perfect for traveling! Low purge valve positioning enables instant clearing if needed. The high-quality silicone mouthpiece is removable and replaceable.

Kraken Aquatics

The perfect snorkeling/scuba diving experience starts with a great snorkel! The Kraken Aquatics Dry snorkel features a comfortable, silicone mouthpiece that is flexible enough to fit any shaped mouth. One-way purge valve guarantees the fast clearing of the tube.

Kraken Aquatics

  • completely dry system that seals off water
  • easy attachment to the mask strap
  • flexible tube that reduces jaw fatigue
  • soft hypoallergenic silicone replaceable mouthpiece

The snorkel connects and disconnects easily to any mask with a quick-release clip that is adjustable up/down for the best fit. There is a floating ball at the tube’s opening to prevent water from getting inside. The system closes the opening when submerged and reopens at the surface. A convenient snorkel at a good price!

The best semi-dry snorkels

Cressi Tao

Cressi Tao is a flexible, easy to use semi-dry snorkel with splash guard that reduce water intake. The lower half of the tube is made of bendable, corrugated silicone and equipped with large purge valve for easy clearing.

Cressi Tao semi-dry

  • ergonomic design for maximum comfort
  • top splash guard to reduce water entry
  • soft silicone mouthpiece
  • purge-valve for easy clearing
  • flexible tube for a comfortable wear

High-quality silicone, angled mouthpiece provides comfort even during extended use. The compact size and lightweight construction make Cressi Tao ideal for traveling too!

Scubapro Escape

A top semi-Dry snorkel with a purge valve on the mouthpiece that provides easy clearing. The ScubaPro Escape features a large diameter tube for better airflow and easy breathing.

ScubaPro Escape semi-dry

  • budget semi-dry model, perfect for diving
  • lowest point purge valve for easy clearing
  • corrugated tube for comfort
  • easy to attach to any mask

A flexi lower tube section and ergonomic mouthpiece ensure a comfortable fit. The removable keeper provides easy attachment to any dive mask.


What is a purge valve?

Modern types of snorkels usually come with a purge-valve that helps to keep the tube clear by collecting a small amount of water in a sump area. When you blow out, a little one-way valve opens and the water flows out.

All types including simple J models, semi-dry and dry snorkels can feature a purge valve. It is important to rinse the purge-valve after each use to remove the salt and sand particles, otherwise the valve can get clogged.

How to clear your snorkel?

Learning how to clear your snorkel is an important step if it comes to snorkeling safety. There are two basic techniques to do this, the blast and the displacement clear. If you are snorkeling for the first time, the best is to practice this in a pool or calm, shallow water before heading to open water.

Blast clear

An easy technique that works with all types of snorkels! You need to blow the water out through the tube by exhaling sharply when resurfacing. If your snorkel has a purge valve, the water will flow out over that valve as well making the clearing faster.

Displacement clear

This method works if you don’t have a purge-valve on your tube. When underwater, exhale a little air into your snorkel. This air will expand when you surface and will force the water out of the tube.

Alternatively, if you don’t manage to clear your snorkel using this method and water conditions allow, stay horizontally in the water, raise your head out, remove the mouthpiece and let the water simply flow out.

Tip: read our snorkeling safety guidelines for more useful advice!

How to attach a snorkel to the mask?

All snorkels come with an attachment that will secure the tube to the mask. This can be a simple silicone snorkel keeper that fit any tube types and sizes, or a 2-piece plastic snorkel keeper. In case you have the second version, one part has to be on your mask strap while the other on the tube.

Man underwater with mask and snorkel
If your snorkel is attached to your mask, you won’t lose it even it is not in your mouth

If you would accidentally lose or break the keeper, don’t worry. You can attach the tube to the mask simply by putting it under the mask strap. Freedivers often use this trick in order to reduce the drag and get a more secure hold. You might wonder which side of the mask does the snorkel go on but it is super easy to decide! Because of the common mouthpiece design, the snorkel goes always to the left side of your mask.

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Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!