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Having good snorkeling fins is an important factor for an enjoyable and comfortable underwater experience. We started snorkeling more than 10 years ago and during the years we tested and used many different models, so now we know what makes a product good or bad. If your fins are too stiff, not efficient, too small or big, you can tire on easily and these factors can cause leg cramp too. In this step-by-step guide, we will explain to you what type of snorkel fins you can find and how to choose the best flippers. Moreover, we give you some tips on how to us find the correct size and show you the best models we recommend to buy.
Why do you need snorkeling fins?
Snorkeling is an easy-to-learn water sport that doesn’t require a lot of equipment. Technically, you can start it by having a snorkel mask only! But for the best experience and being safe in the water, we recommend having full snorkel equipment that includes a good snorkel mask with snorkel tube and fins.
Swimming with fin helps you to move in the water using your legs only and freeing your hands. The purpose of using snorkeling fins is to make swimming more efficient as well as making navigation between corals and around marine life easier. On the top of this, they provide the wearer with some flotation too that helps to stay horizontal and prevents the legs getting tired.
Tip: When you go snorkeling, make sure that your gear includes UV protection swim clothing too to protect yourself against harmful sun rays and jellyfish stings.
5 tips for choosing the best snorkeling fins
- models with medium length blades work the best for snorkelers
- choose fin with flexible yet powerful blades
- the foot pocket needs to provide a snug (not tight, not loose) fit
- wear them with neoprene socks to avoid rubbing
- buy open heel fins with adjustable straps if you need them to fit various shoe sizes
Types of snorkel fins
Fins come in two types that are the closed foot design and the adjustable open heel models. Full foot or closed models you can slip in even barefoot, practical to use them in warm water. Open foot models come with wider foot pocket with an adjustable strap around the heel that makes them usable with neoprene boots while diving/in colder water.
Closed foot fins
If you usually snorkel usually in warm water, a closed foot fin -also called full foot fin- is a perfect choice for you! Most snorkeling fins come with full foot open toe design with the purpose to be easy-to-slip in.
They are lightweight, spare space in the luggage and provide you with great efficiency. If it comes to sizing, it is important to find a good fit, although open-toe models allow some flexibility and you also can compensate with neoprene snorkel booties if the foot pocket is a bit loose.
Open foot fins
These models (also called open heel type) have an adjustable strap around the heel and usually made for divers who wear them with neoprene boot. Wearing a bootie gives you thermal protection that is important when swimming in cold water.
Although, diving boots are extra stuff in your package and open heel fins are heavier! Using open foot fin with booties are not effective for surface swimming. The neoprene material of the boot will keep your feet out of the water making swimming not efficient and tiring.
But you find adjustable snorkel fins too that provide you a greater flexibility if it comes to sizing, therefore are good if they will be shared with family members or will be used by kids with growing feet. You can use the open heel snorkel fin on barefoot too. However, it is more comfortable to use it with neoprene socks to prevent abrasion.
Split fins vs paddle fins
From both above categories, you can find paddle fins and split fins. Paddle fins are the traditional fins. Splits are divided in the middle. The statistic shows the majority of the best snorkeling fins are paddle fins that come flexible yet powerful blades.
Split fins are good for people who have weaker legs or suffer from joint problems. The split blades offer easy movement without tiring the legs. It is easier to swim with them but your efficiency will be worse. Therefore, split fins are not suggested in strong currents! Use them is shallow, current-free areas.
How to choose the right size?
To answer the question what are the best snorkeling fins, we say the ones you feel the most comfortable. Therefore, sizing is an important factor. But don’t worry, your fin doesn’t need to fit perfectly since the soft rubber foot pockets allow some flexibility. Especially the open toe full foot pocket fin models tend to fit for various sizes making a fin usable for a long time.
No matter which design you choose, closed or open heel snorkel fin, they need to provide a snug, but not too tight, not too loose fit. The general practice is that you need to buy the actual shoe size or one size bigger if you would like to use them with 2-3 mm thick neoprene socks what we strongly recommend to avoid irritation and rubbing.
We advise browsing snorkeling fins on Amazon where you find a large selection from the best brands and the good thing is that you can get extra small and XXL sizes too, that physical shops usually don’t keep on stock.
Tips on how to choose the right size:
- if your fin stays on your heel while trying stand on tiptoe, they are the good size
- when your heel comes out easily, it is big. Try to compensate with neoprene socks!
- if the difference is too big, get smaller size.
- go for bigger size if you feel them instantly tight. A small fin is not only uncomfortable but also can lead to muscle cramp
- see if you have a little space between your heel and the end of the foot pocket. Like when buying a normal shoe, the size is good if you are able to put a small finger in.
- check if the rubber parts are not squeezing your toes
Snorkeling fins and scuba diving fins differences
It is a frequently asked question if one can use diving fin for snorkeling and vice versa? Well, no one will tell you not to go snorkeling with diving fin because it is still better than going without fin, but if you a chance, use snorkel fin only for snorkeling, diving fin for diving.
At first sight, you might not notice a big difference between snorkeling fins and scuba diving fins. But if you look closer, it is easy to understand that they are designed to meet different criteria:
- usually closed full foot models to wear on barefoot or with thin socks
- lightweight design that makes them easy-to-carry
- soft blades for surface swimming, not enough powerful to use at deeper depths
- wider open-heel fins are designed to wear with neoprene booties
- thicker and stiffer blades that are efficient underwater but require more power to kick
- heavier and robust design
- blades feature channels and/or split design for easier navigation at great depths
Are travel size short snorkeling fins good?
Almost all snorkel fins are good for traveling too thanks to its lightweight design, but there are special travel size snorkel fins with short, wide blades. But are short fins good for snorkeling? It sounds good that they need less space in your luggage but in fact, they are not so effective in the water.
The super short blade fins are designed for pool training originally to increase the efficiency of the training. Also, short swim fins are good for bodyboarding, surfing but they are not effective on open water where you might need to swim against currents.
With a medium-length snorkeling fin your kicks get powerful, with a short travel fin you have to make more movements and you will use more energy. Choose a compact snorkel fin for traveling that is lightweight but has medium length blades like the Cressi Palau short fins or US Divers Trek Fins!
Are long fins good for snorkeling?
As mentioned above, short fins work well while pool training only but not enough powerful for snorkeling. But what about long blade fins? There are special freediving fins with extra-long blades that might seem a good option for snorkeling because they are extremely effective, but we don’t recommend them for snorkeling.
The reasons are simple; first of all, while swimming around shallow coral reefs, you need to be careful not to cause damage. A longer fin can break corals easily. Another reason is that long fins are designed for freediving, for swimming underwater.
Therefore, they come with stiff blades that provide great propulsion when diving deep. But the stronger, rigid material these fins are made of making surface swimming hard and tiring. With these in mind, the best is to choose a fin with medium-length blades for snorkeling!
Best Snorkeling Fins in 2023
Deciding what fins are the best for snorkeling depends on factors like efficiency, durability and personal preferences if it comes to design. Based on our personal experience and snorkelers’ reviews, the models below are the 5 best snorkeling fins that offer comfort and great propulsion, moreover are compact and easy-to-carry therefore perfect for traveling too.
Cressi Palau Snorkeling Fins
The name Cressi is well-known on the market of snorkeling and diving goods. This Italian company supplies gear for water-sports enthusiast and their products offer high-quality. Cressi flippers are one of the best snorkeling fins available for those who seek compact fins for traveling.
The Cressi Palau SAF (Short Adjustable Fins) are good for various watersport activities including snorkeling, swimming, surfing etc… With adjustable foot pockets this model can accommodate various shapes and sizes and can be worn on barefoot and with footwear too.
- Soft short blades that are efficient and powerful
- comfortable foot pockets with an adjustable strap for easy donning/doffing
- easy-to-carry lightweight design, perfect for traveling
- available from XS to XL and in a wide variety of colors
- fit for 3-4 consecutive sizes
These short paddle fins will satisfy all needs of casual snorkelers: they are super light, easy to use with short but powerful blades for increased propulsion in the water.
US Divers Trek Travel Fins
The ultimate compact-size fins for traveling! U.S. Divers offer a wide variety of products for watersport fanatics but their flippers are definitely among the best snorkeling fins. This open heel Trek Travel Fins are good choice for the whole family with comfortable foot pockets that fit a wide variety of foot shapes.
- compact size travel fin
- with adjustable strap to personalize the fit
- Quad-flex rail system for increased propulsion
- flexible foot pocket for best comfort
- available in men and women sizes
An adjustable strap makes easy to set up a snug yet comfortable fit. Short, dual composite blades improve the power of your kicks making your movements in the water efficient. These extremely portable fins are not only snorkelers’ first choice if it comes to find travel-size fins but also good for body-boarding and swimming too!
Cressi Rondinella Snorkeling Fins
The Rondinella full foot long paddle fins are the latest addition to Cressi snorkeling line but gained already popularity thanks to its lightweight, powerful designs and top usability.
- easy-to-use, high performing travel fins
- soft and light yet reactive blades
- thermo-rubber foot pockets for maximum comfort
- available in kids, junior, women and men sizes
- perfect for snorkeling and recreational swimming
Anatomic soft thermo rubber foot pockets providing extra comfort, while the reactive polypropylene blades offer super propulsion making Cressi Rondinella an unbeatable choice among paddle fins. Pull-tabs on the heel make donning/doffing easy.
Topside Snorkel Fins Wildhorn Outfitters
The company Wildhorn Outfitters came up with a revolutionary product that combines short paddle fins with a neoprene bootie. Topside fins are walkable, can be used on land and sea. No more rubbing, no more injuries when walking on rocky shore! Snorkel fins were never so comfortable!
Lightweight, compact design that is perfect for traveling. The inserted neoprene bootie makes the fin afloat so you won’t lose it if it falls accidentally in the water. Fits like shoes, you just simply need to slip in and customize the fit with the adjustable Velcro strap.
- revolutionary hybrid snorkel fins
- combine the functions of neoprene shoe and fins
- easy-to-use on land and sea
- lightweight design fits easily into backpack or carry-on luggage
- customizable thanks to the adjustable velcro strap
The fit needs to be rather tight when dry since the neoprene will expand in the water. High-quality materials like polymer blend base, premium neoprene and rugged strap ensure durability. If you are looking for a fin for casual snorkeling that is compact and multi-functional, Wildhorn Topside fins are the best snorkeling fins you need!
Everlasting Snorkel Fins – Cressi Clio
A classic but popular model from Cressi. The Everlasting snorkel fin, also known as Cressi Clio fins are on the market for more than 20 years but still one of the best snorkeling fins available on the market.
These traditional closed heel fins with responsive composite blades and with a special, computer designed foot pockets are excellent for snorkeling as well as for swimming. Cressi Clio is available in different colors and a wide range of sizes from small kids sizes to XXL sizes for men, making it the perfect choice for the whole family.
- Cressi's most popular model thanks to high comfort and durability
- computer-designed easy to slip in foot pockets
- responsive composite blades for powerful kicking
- great for traveling
- perfect choice for the whole family with a wide variety of sizes
High-quality materials secure durability and maximum comfort. Choose the Everlasting snorkel fin if you want powerful and truly long-lasting product!
Tip: If you are looking to buy flippers for children check out our kids snorkel fins recommendations.
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