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Snorkel Gear – What is Necessary?

by Dana Ward on Sep 25, 2010 2

snorkel gearSnorkel Gear generally consists of a snorkel, mask, swim fins, and flotation device.  But is all that gear really necessary?

Having the right equipment is key to making the most out of your vacation sports.  However, bringing too much, or un-necessary equipment can be a problem.

Bringing extra gear such as an entire snorkel set, can take up valuable space in your suitcase.  In addition to the inconvenience of the extra bulk, the increased weight may cause your suitcase to be over the limit allowed by airlines for baggage.  This can be quite costly.  If you carry an extra suitcase just for your water sports equipment, be advised many airlines also charge for additional bags.

Of course, once you are at your destination and ready to go on your snorkel excursion, you will want to bring several items with you.  A towel, personal items, waterproof camera, and sunscreen are just some of things you’ll probably want to bring.  So, carrying extra snorkel gear can weigh you down.  Only take what is necessary so you can fully enjoy the experience.

Snorkel Gear – Snorkels

First and foremost is the snorkel itself.  The type of snorkel you use can make or break your trip.  If you don’t already own your own, I strongly suggest you buy one.  Although most tours supply gear to their passengers, they are basic models and although they are “sterilized” know that  they have been in the mouths of strangers.  The design of these basic snorkels is a simple tube.  Water easily gets in the tube and you must use a lot of lung strength to blow out that tube of water.  This gets tiring really fast and can be difficult for children.  Then answer is to get a “dry snorkel,” which prevents water from entering the tube.  This item is worth its weight in your suitcase!  (And as a side note, the prices are much more reasonable online than at your vacation spot.)

The next piece of gear is the mask.  There are a lot of choices when it comes to masks for snorkeling and diving.  The features to consider with masks are the quality of the “glass” and the strap.  If you plan on snorkeling and or scuba diving in the future, you may want to consider getting your own mask.  However, if your budget at this time only will allow for one item, get the dry snorkel, and use the mask supplied by the tour company.  When you are ready to upgrade to your own mask, there are options.  For people with long hair, an optional strap is available.  These straps are much kinder and don’t  pull like the rubber straps.

Snorkel Sets – Masks

Did you know some snorkel masks have a digital camera and video integrated right in?  This is a good option if you would like to take pics but don’t want to carry an extra gadget.  There are pros and cons to this type of mask.  The “pros” include ease of access – you don’t need to fumble around for your camera that is flopping around in the water.  I  had a waterproof box float away from me while on a snorkeling trip, never to be retrieved.  (I imagine my license, money, and room key are somewhere in Tahiti now…)   The “cons” include quality of image.  The specs of the digital cameras incorporated into snorkel masks are not as great as what you can get in a standard waterproof camera, such as the Olympus Stylus SW.  This becomes a personal choice.  What is more important to you – quality of image or convenience – only you can make that decision.  Both are valid points to consider.

Snorkel Gear – Fins

Perhaps the most overlooked item of snorkel gear are fins.  This item can be bulky and a bit heavy, so consider if it is worth bringing your own pair on vacation with you.  However, to answer the question, are they really necessary?  The answer is yes!  Just try snorkeling without them and you will understand what I mean.  The large surface area of fins help propel you through the water.  You move faster and with less effort than without them on.  They are worth the inconvenience.  Make sure you have a good fit, though.  A loose fin will fall off in the water.  Again, there are basic models and more advanced styles.  Some features of the more advanced kind include a quick release strap, and more adjustments than the base models.

Snorkel Gear – Flotation Devices

Finally, the last item to consider is a flotation device, or life jacket.  Aside from the obvious benefit that they are designed for, another great thing about life jackets is they allow you to work less hard while swimming.  This enables you to focus on the underwater scenery and wildlife.  They can be a negative if you want to dive under the water to get a better look at something.

Image credit for snorkel gear article: Brandy Dopkins


  1. Angie (Losing It and Loving It)

    October 29th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Hubby and I love to snorkel in Jamaica! Heading back in Dec., can’t wait. As for the camera masks we have decided to pass on those BUT I would love to have a under water digital camera. Do you have a blog post about those? Would love to see what you recommend.

    I think after this year we might need to get new masks and snorkels. No fins for us yet as I would not want to travel with them plus the resort has plenty extra.


    • Admin

      October 29th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

      Dear Angie,

      I do recommend the Olympus SW underwater camera. Here is a link to a quick review:

      Olympus SW Underwater camera

      They have different models to choose from. The models vary as does the price range. Different models offer various pixel capacity.


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