Snorkel Gear Guide – What Equipment Do You Need For Snorkeling?

This snorkel gear guide will help you to find the best snorkeling equipment! We have more than 10 years of experience in underwater sports so we know exactly how important is to have the right gear out of safety and comfort. Therefore, we prepared a gear buying tips series where we share our experience and recommendations on how to find good equipment that you can trust and use for long years.

No matter you are a beginner who needs advice on what fins or mask to buy, or an advanced snorkeler who wants to add some useful accessories to the travel kit, this step-by-step summary will tell you what are the essentials and extras you need for the best water experience. For more information, refer to the linked articles that you find in each part and those take you to our detailed posts on the equipment pieces!

Snorkel gear guide basics – The must-have equipment

Many people choose snorkeling over diving because you need less stuff to do it. In the first part of our snorkel gear guide, we specify the essential items that your snorkeling kit needs to include and explain why are these crucial for a comfortable and safe snorkeling experience. It can be also a check-list when buying snorkel gear for beginners.

Your basic snorkel set should include the following equipment:

  • Snorkel mask
  • Dry snorkel
  • Snorkeling fins
  • UV protection clothing or ocean-safe sunscreen

Tip: If you are looking for gear for children, read our how to choose kids snorkel gear article!

Snorkeling mask

Goggles are the most important part of the gear that allows you to see the underwater world. With naked eyes, you would see only a blurry image underwater. Getting a snorkel mask that is made from high-quality materials and fits your face well is very important if you are a beginners snorkeler since you will have a more enjoyable time if you don’t need to deal with a mask that leaks or breaks while in the water.

man swimming underwater wearing snorkeling mask
The mask is the most important piece of your equipment – choose one that is comfortable and fits well

Buy a snorkel mask that is comfortable and has tempered glasses for safe use. It can be a traditional snorkeling mask or a full-face snorkel mask. Our detailed best snorkeling masks post will help how to choose the best model and right fit.

What if you wear glasses but still want to see clearly underwater? There are prescription snorkel mask types available that are customizable to meet your needs.

Models covering the whole face (Easybreath type) appeared on the market a few years ago. They allow natural breathing through the mouth and nose.

Tribord full face masks on the beach
Subea Easybreath full face snorkeling masks

Although they are extremely popular before buying one read about full face snorkel mask safety concerns and check what is the best full-face snorkel mask that meets safety standards. 

Tip: People who are afraid to use a mask, may try out a snorkeling window that allows them to see the reef life without putting their head underwater!

Dry snorkel

To be able to breathe while snorkeling without raising your head out of the water, you need a snorkel. Early models were rigid and caused jaw fatigue, but modern ones are comfortable and come with features to make snorkeling safe like a dry-top that prevents water entry and reduces the chance of gulping water.

Girl underwater with dry top snorkel
Dry snorkels prevent water intake even if they are submerged allowing a safer water experience

There are several versions available these days so everyone can find one that is comfortable and ensures effortless breathing. Should you need more information on the topic, see our best dry-snorkel recommendations.

Snorkeling fins

Swimming in open water means that you need to be prepared for changing ocean conditions. In some cases wearing snorkeling shoes might be enough (in shallow, current-free water near the shore), but getting caught by a stronger current can be a potentially dangerous situation and it is difficult to escape if you don’t wear fins.

man swimming over the reef with snorkel fins
Using fins make swimming effortless and helps you to maneuver

Using snorkeling fins makes swimming efficient as well as easy to navigate between coral reefs and shallow water. Good snorkel fins are lightweight yet powerful. Our detailed post includes all the information you need to know about fins and contains travel size snorkeling fins recommendations too.

Tip: If you don’t have your own equipment at all, buy your mask, snorkel, and fins in a package by choosing a snorkeling set.

UV protection clothing

We categorized the sun protection accessories to our snorkel gear guide essentials part because we believe that wearing UV protective clothing is as important as having a good mask or fins. Not only because it provides protection against harmful UV rays but also from jellyfish stings.

two snorkelers in the Red Sea in UV T-shirt
Wearing UPF50+ rash guard prevents sunburn and protects you from jellyfish

Our opinion is that the best solution is to wear long sleeve rash guard and sun protection pants. In colder waters, use a snorkeling wetsuit. Don’t forget about head sun protection too, wear a bandana or UPF50+ swim cap.

This sun protection for snorkeling article will give you ideas on how to achieve the best protection. If you want to use sunblock too, make sure to choose reef safe sunscreen that doesn’t harm the sensitive underwater ecosystem.

Safety equipment for snorkeling 

The second part of our snorkel gear guide features accessories that can increase the safety level while snorkeling. Carrying a high visibility swim buoy is recommended for good swimmers as well. You can rest on it if you get tired and it plays a key role as a marker too making you visible for passing boats and your buddy in case you lost each other.

Snorkeling Safety Tips Infographic

For weaker swimmers, wearing an inflatable snorkel vest is crucial. Although it is not a life-saving device but will keep you afloat with your head above water until help arrives. If you go through on our snorkeling safety tips list you will get more advice on how to stay safe while snorkeling.

Snorkel gear extras – For comfort and fun

This section of our snorkel gear guide includes practical accessories that are not must-haves, but using them definitely will contribute to a fun and more convenient snorkeling experience!

Snorkeling camera

The underwater world is magical, so it would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity of capturing its beauty! Waterproof cameras are the best for this purpose that you can use on land as well as underwater. Read our suggestions on the best waterproof cameras in our snorkeling camera guide.

swimming with underwater camera
An underwater camera allows you to record your adventures

Using a GoPro to record your underwater adventures is also a good choice! These action cameras are easy-to-use, though, and the newest models are waterproof without additional housing too. Check out our detailed article on this topic and find out what is the best GoPro for snorkeling or if you already have one, upgrade it by adding some GoPro underwater accessories to your photography kit!

Alternatively, you can use your smartphone as well for underwater photography. Nowadays modern devices feature outstanding photo quality, so why wouldn’t you benefit from this while snorkeling too? If you would go for this option, don’t forget to use a waterproof phone case!

smartphone underwater case
Nowadays you can use your smartphone too to take photos underwater

Although the latest models are waterproof for a certain period of time, keep in mind that they cannot be used in saltwater. Depending on the model you have, buy a Samsung waterproof case or iPhone underwater case.

If you like high-tech solutions you might try recording videos with an underwater drone. Such a fun way of exploring the ocean!

Snorkeling watch

When heading to explore the beauty of the sea, probably the last thing you will think of adding to your equipment is a watch, but in fact, it is a commonly used accessory by advanced snorkelers. It will help you to keep track of the time you spent in the water, tell you the water temperature, depth etc…(if the model you choose is capable to measure and provide such data).

Waterproof watch underwater

Needless to say, when you realize that timing is an important factor if it comes to enjoying the best conditions in the water (think about tides), using a snorkeling watch or even a dive computer you will also want to have one.

Dry bag for snorkeling

There are many different snorkeling bags available, but we think a backpack-style dry bag is the best way to transport your equipment. It protects your dry clothes, towels, and personal belongings from splashing water on a boat trip, from sand and dirt on the beach as well as from getting everything wet in case of sudden rain.

FE Active Eco-friendly Waterproof backpack

  • made of environment friendly certified PVC
  • lightweight yet durable construction
  • padded shoulder straps, back support
  • Mesh-lining for better airflow

On the other hand, you can put your wet swimsuits in the bag after snorkeling and avoid making the seats in your car or on the bus wet. Our pick is the waterproof backpack-style dry bag that is big enough to store 2 persons’ equipment but still easy to carry thanks to the padded straps.

Sea Scooter

Do you want to maximize the fun while snorkeling? Get a sea scooter! These propulsion vehicles are designed to increase the divers’ speed/range underwater but can be used as water toys too while snorkeling! Are you interested? Find out more about the best underwater scooters!

Waterproof key holder

If you don’t want to leave your personal valuables in your bag on the beach, using a watertight container or waterproof key holder is the solution! You can use it to store your car or scooter key, room card, money or small personal items.

WITZ Waterproof key holder

  • multi-purpose waterproof case
  • can store keys, credit cards and money
  • crush-resistant
  • floats in water

The holder stays completely dry and can be used not only while snorkeling but diving too! Before entering the water, make sure to close it properly and secure it to yourself.

Mask antifog spray

While floating on the surface and observing marine life, there is nothing as annoying as suffering from mask fogging. Don’t let your snorkeling trip be ruined by this problem that you can solve easily.

Happy Snorkel Mask Anti-Fog Spray

  • reef-safe biodegradable anti-fog spray
  • keeps your mask clean and clear
  • for about 50 uses
  • made in Hawaii

A cheap solution is to spit in the mask or use baby shampoo as a defogger, but if you find it more professional, add a biodegradable anti-fog spray to your gear and enjoy a clear view at all times!

Rent or buy snorkel gear?

It is a frequently asked question what is better, to buy your own equipment or to rent while on holiday? Although most snorkeling trips include basic equipment in the price and often hotels provide masks/fins for free or at a small charge, we highly recommend having your own snorkel equipment!

Why buying snorkel gear is better than renting?

  1. if you have your own stuff, you will know that everything fits you. No need to worry about sizing problems.
  2. you know that your equipment is well-kept and working properly. Less chance that a damaged mask strap or broken fin ruins your holiday.
  3. think about hygiene! The best is if only you use your snorkel or fins.
  4. you save money! Why would you spend money on renting if you can have your own stuff with a small investment? If you read through our snorkel gear guide, you will see that setting up a basic snorkel equipment kit includes only a few things that don’t cost big money.

Snorkeling Gear FAQ

What gear do I need for snorkeling?

Fortunately, basic snorkeling gear includes only a few pieces of equipment. Technically, snorkeling is possible using a snorkeling mask only, but a complete set of mask, snorkel and fins provides the best and safest experience. Wearing UV protection clothing is also recommended to avoid sunburn and jellyfish stings.

Where to buy good snorkeling gear?

Quality equipment for snorkeling can be purchased both online and in stores. Visit shops near your that sell exclusively scuba diving and snorkeling gear or retailers that stock a wide range of sporting goods or make a purchase through trusted brand’s online stores.

Are cheap snorkel gear good?

Your snorkel gear should be well fitting and comfortable, which is only possible when it is made of high-quality materials. Inexpensive pieces of equipment are questionable in terms of quality and are usually made of plastic that makes the pieces uncomfortable, poor fitting and non-durable. Quality materials that should be used when making snorkel gear such as tempered glass and food-grade silicone cost more, therefore it is not possible to find high-quality snorkeling equipment under a certain price.

How to clean snorkeling gear?

You should clean your snorkel gear after each use. Rinse your snorkel, mask and fins with fresh water to remove salt and dirt particles that are left on them. When you do not plan to use your equipment for a longer period or if it is extremely dirty, thoroughly clean all pieces by soaking them in lukewarm (not hot) water. Use dish detergent, mild soap or a special dive gear cleaning solution to get rid of debris, contaminants and grime accumulation. Use a soft brush if necessary and finally, wipe all pieces with a soft cloth.

How to store your gear?

To maintain the durability and quality of your gear, proper storing is also essential. To avoid bacteria and mold buildup, make sure that all equipment is fully dry before putting them away. Leave the gear out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place where the temperature and humidity are relatively steady. Keep the protective case of the mask for storage. Fins should be stored lying flat not hanging, ideally with foot-pocket inserts to prevent deformation. Other parts like the snorkel can be placed in a mesh bag. Wetsuits are the best to store hanging up.

Did you find our snorkel gear guide useful? Share it with your family and ocean-lover friends and help them when preparing for a snorkeling holiday!

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snorkeling equipment guide

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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!