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Good quality snorkelling gear will allow you to enjoy your time in the water in safety and comfort and last for years if you look after it. It can be a very cheap and enjoyable way to spend time exploring the oceans for years to come.
Avoid cheap bucket and spade or supermarket snorkelling gear as they are usually made with cheaper plastics which means they rarely seal correctly, causing leaking, discolour very fast and can leave rashes on your face as well as leave a nasty plastic taste in your mouth.
Here at Simply Scuba we offer a wide range of quality dive grade snorkelling gear all certified to CE safety standards so you can be sure that they'll be comfortable and practical so your first time exploring the underwater world is as great as you imagined it.
You only require a few basic pieces of equipment to get started: a mask, a snorkel and a pair of fins but there are some optional extras that can make snorkelling safer.
Choosing a Mask
It is possible to buy full face snorkel masks which cover your entire face and has the snorkel built in but these are only recommended for surface use as it is not possible to equalise whilst wearing one if you descend underwater. Equalising is explained below in the mask section. They also trap a large bubble of air over your face that wants to float so duck diving can be tricky.
A mask creates an air space in front of your eyes so your eyes can focus. Our eyes aren't made to focus underwater so we need an airspace in front of them to focus properly. Lenses in masks have to be flat otherwise they can act like magnifying lenses in the water that make it hard to see.
Masks also have a soft nose section which encloses the nose so that water doesn't go in but it also has a couple of other benefits when you go underwater. As you go under the water the deeper you go you will need to equalise your ears and the mask itself. As you descend underwater you will feel pressure on your ears similar to being in an aeroplane taking off which needs to relieved. To do this simply pinch your nose and gently blow against it, this will cause your ears to pop relieving the pressure. You will also need to blow a small amount of air into the mask as you descend to stop the mask pushing on your face too hard leaving your face marked. If you stay on the surface then you don't need to worry about equalising your ears or mask, it's only when you swim down.
Look for masks with a soft silicone skirt (the bit that sits on your face), silicone is a soft and hypoallergenic material used in all high quality masks. The softer the skirt the better if generally fits as the skirt can mould to your face better, around your cheekbones and temples. As a rule of thumb the more you pay the softer the skirt. As well as better skirts some masks have lenses with special coatings to improve colour perception and protect your eyes. Mirrored lenses can act like sunglasses and reduce glare on the surface and other lenses have reduced impurities so they're clearer.
If you are long or short sighted you can buy a prescription snorkel mask that has corrective lenses fitted to match your prescription so the underwater world can be as clear as dry land!
Masks we recommend for snorkelling (any of our masks will be great but here are some of our favourites):
Most popular mask: TUSA Ceos
Suitable for narrower faces (teens & ladies): TUSA Kleio
Budget mask: Mares Wahoo
Prescription mask: TUSA Ceos
Click for more advice on masks
Choosing a Snorkel
Snorkels are the tube which sits of the left hand side of your mask. The reason it's on the left is from scuba diving as your regulators come around the right hand side and confusing the two underwater would be bad! Our advice is if you are nervous or new get a good snorkel it makes a massive difference in keeping water out, look for one with a purge system at the minimum.
There are three types of snorkels; the basic snorkel which is a simple open ended tube with a mouthpiece on the end. These are best for people with better airway control and don't mind some water around their mouth. Purge snorkels have a one way valve at the bottom that pushes out any water trapped inside the snorkel. The trap is usually oversized so you can still breathe even if there is some water in the snorkel, just breathe out and it will push the water out. Dry Top snorkels have the valve at the bottom and a float at the top that actively blocks the top of the snorkel and stops water from getting in if a wave splashes over or if you swim under the water.
Snorkels we recommend for snorkelling (any of our snorkels will be great but here are some of our favourites):
Most popular snorkel: TUSA Hyperdry Elite
Budget snorkel: TUSA Imprex Hyperdry
Our favourite: Oceanic Ultradry 2
Click for more advice on snorkels
Choosing a pair of snorkelling fins
A pair of fins, we call them fins not flippers, allow you to propel yourself around in the water. Nervous snorkellers often feel more confident without fins at first which is fine where there are no currents and little distance to cover but most end up with a pair of fins. Most snorkellers in warm water will opt for full foot fins (those where you just slip your bare foot into), you can then decide between short reef fins which have a short blade which keeps the weight and size of the fins down for transporting or normal fins which offer better propulsion.
Adjustable heel straps make fitting much easier and allow for growing feet. All snorkelling fins are made to be worn barefoot but you can add some socks if you want to protect your feet from the sun or walking on rocks to get to the water. Most fins have a paddle blade which work a lot like an oar by forcing the water out of the way and making your footprint larger. Some fins have a split down the blade that we call a split fin, we're great at naming things, these work like a seals fins and reduce the effort you need to move through the water.
Fins we recommend for snorkelling (any of our snorkelling fins will be great but here are some of our favourites):
Short reef style fins: TUSA Sport Short Fins
Budget fins: Scubapro Fluida 2
Our favourites: TUSA Solla
Click for more advice on fins
Other snorkelling accessories to consider
Other items worth considering is; some form of exposure protection either a rash vest or wetsuit to offer protection from colder waters and sunlight (you can get sunburn really easily when snorkelling so be careful). They can also protect you from stings and scrapes whilst in the water. A wetsuit will also help you remain warm in the water (water below 32°C will chill your body over time).
Anti fog is available and if really effective way to ensure your mask remains clear and mist free.
If you have longer hair or just like things to be as comfortable as possible add a strap wrapper onto your standard silicone mask strap so your hair does not become tangled and caught in the strap.
If you plan to venture out a fair way or just feel some additional safety may be prudent the consider a snorkelling vest which is worn around your neck and across your chest which you can orally inflate for extra buoyancy.
A Snorkel bag holds all your kit together and works as a beach bag too. We also have small dry bags available to keep valuables safe from the elements. If you have multiple sets of kit to transport a mesh duffle bag is ideal.
An underwater camera will allow you to capture images of the underwater world. Modern underwater action cams have great resolution to obtain clear vibrant images.
Still not sure? Consider buying one of snorkelling sets that have been selected by our instructors. Go for the best one you can afford they will serve you well for many years.