6 Types of Snorkeling Fins You Must Know

Snorkeling is a super fun way to get some sun, get active, and get up close and personal with marine life. But before you dive in, it’s important to have the right gear, and one of the most necessary pieces of gear to have for snorkeling is the right pair of fins to help you successfully and comfortably maneuver the waters. 

How do you choose the right pair of snorkel fins? A general rule of thumb is that snorkel fins should be light and flexible and fit snug but not too tight; however, there are several other things you should consider when choosing just the right pair of fins such as the water you’ll be in, the water temperature, and how you plan on packing fins.

Keep reading to learn more about choosing just the right pair of fins, different types of fins available, where to buy fins, what purpose snorkel fins serve, and the benefits of snorkeling, and a few snorkeling tips. 

How to Choose Snorkel Fins

Choosing just the right pair or snorkel fins is an important task, but it can also prove to be an overwhelming task, especially if you’re a beginner. Keep in mind that as a general rule, snorkeling fins should be lightweight and flexible, and fit snug but not too tight.

As you begin shopping for your perfect pair of snorkel fins, consider the following: 

  1. Will you be in calm waters? You’ll need a fin best suited for the type of water you plan on being in to ensure your safety. After researching your snorkeling location, if you find that the waters are calm you can opt for a smaller fin with less power. 

However, if you find you may be up against some strong waters, opt for a fin that will give you enough power to successfully and efficiently move through the water. 

  1. What is the temperature of the water you will be in? Considering the temperature of the water you’ll be in will ensure that you’re comfortable while you snorkel.

If you’re snorkeling in cooler waters, you’ll need more protection and added bulkiness to stay warm; however, most will be snorkeling in warm waters, and fins won’t need those added layers for warmth. 

  1. How comfortable are you in the water? If you’re not super comfortable in the water or don’t feel like you have the most stamina, you’re probably going to want to shop for a high-performance fin that provides the most buoyancy and requires the least amount of power. 

If you’re a strong swimmer, you may choose to opt for a smaller fin that works your leg muscles a little more. Keep in mind that even the strongest of swimmers may face currents beyond their capabilities, and to always plan for possibly dangerous situations.

  1. How do you plan on packing fins? If you’re a frequent traveler and/or snorkeler and you need to be able to throw fins in your carry on, a shorter, more compact design will be the type of fin you’re looking for. If you have the extra space to put your fins in your luggage, size won’t necessarily be an issue. 
  1. When shopping for snorkel fins, do it the same way you would shop for any other footwear. If you’re shopping online, read reviews before you order and make sure you can return fins if they don’t fit. 

If you’re able to shop for fins at a brick and mortar store, do your research before you shop, talk to sales associates should you have any questions or concerns as you shop, and be sure to try fins on and walk around in them before you buy. 

Just a tip, make sure you’re familiar with a store’s return policy before you buy.

  1. Blades should be medium in length, not too long and not too short. Blades should also be flexible and not too stiff. A medium, flexible blade will allow you to snorkel for a longer duration, and won’t cause leg cramps of ankle strain.
  1. To avoid rubbing, especially if this is your first time snorkeling or your first time wearing a new pair of fins, wear some swim socks to avoid discomfort. Here are a few recommendations: 

Copozz diving socks are great for all water sports. These socks fit snug, dry quickly, and have an adjustable ankle strap. Thick material will keep your warm in cold waters, and material is abrasion and tear-resistant if you need a pair that will last on rough terrain. 

These neoprene socks have extra thick grip soles and are reinforced all over. Socks are suitable for any water sport, are available in a wide array of unisex sizes, and come with two pairs when you order. The only drawback to this particular pair is they are not designed for walking on rough terrain. 

Beach booties come in a huge array of colors, and are super stretchy, durable, and long-lasting even with frequent use. These socks have a low-cut design, adjustable strap over the ankles, and a loop on the heel to make putting them on and taking them off even easier. Socks are also reinforced, anti-slip, and keep you protected without feeling like you’re wearing anything. 

Getting comfortable

Taking the time to choose a fin that fits comfortably and is designed for the waters you’ll be in and the type of snorkeling you’ll be doing will make all the difference. Choosing the right pair of snorkel fins is worth the time and effort.

Also, spend some time in the water learning to relax and float horizontally instead of keeping your legs under you kicking constantly. You can float along effortlessly with a mask and snorkel even without a flotation device. Especially in salt water due to its higher buoyancy.

We’ve all seen swimmers with legs at a 45 degree or greater angle underwater struggling to stay afloat. That snorkeler will wear out very quickly, and will not enjoy their snorkeling experience. There’s also a risk of damage to underwater reefs and structures. Please master this for your own safety and for protection of the underlying shallow marine environment.

6 Types of Snorkel Fins On the Market

Travel Design Fins: Compact & Ideal for Calm Waters

Travel design fins are ideal if you travel a lot. Due to their compact size, fins often fit in a carry-on without taking up too much space. Since these fins are smaller in size, they offer less power and are more ideal for calm water snorkeling. 

Here are a few travel-friendly fins: 

The AQUALUNG snorkeling fins are small enough to throw in your carry-on which makes them great for traveling. Fins are an open heel style, have a paddle fin blade, and are super soft and flexible making them comfortable to wear for the duration of your dive. The only drawback to this particular fin is that since it is shorter, it will require more kicking. 

These Cressi Palau travel fins are light and compact making them perfect for travel. Although these fins are small, they are more powerful than other fins their size. Fins are open-heel style with an adjustable strap. Buyers have reported straps become uncomfortable after a long period of time, but swim socks help with any discomfort. 

The Seavenger Torpedo snorkeling fins are great for traveling and come as small as size XXS making them a great option for kids. These fins have flexible blades, are open heel, and have paddle blades. These fins also come highly recommended for beginners. The only drawback with these fins is that because they are smaller, they don’t have a lot of power. 

Traditional Fins: Classic, Dependable, & Large

Traditional fins are the classic snorkeling fins most of us picture when we think of snorkeling. These fins are long, dependable, and provide enough power for any kind of water. The only drawback to these fins is that they are usually pretty long, so packing them can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to conserve space. 

Here are a few traditional fins to consider for your snorkeling adventure: 

The Everlasting Family Fins by Cressi are traditionally long in length, durable, and give good power with any kicking style. Fins are available in both children and adult sizes. An added benefit of these fins is that they are great quality at an affordable price. 

These fins are designed for long snorkeling durations, and because they are so lightweight, they are easy on your legs and don’t tend to cause cramping. The foot pocket is comfortable with or without fin socks, and fins are easy to put on and take off. A bonus to these fins is that they are easy to walk in should you need to walk to your snorkel spot. 

These Mares Avanti fins are traditionally long fins that are both flexible and durable. These fins are simple in their design, but great quality. The bungee strap on these fins makes them easy to take off and put on. The only drawback is that it’s recommended you wear booties or socks with these fins to avoid any discomfort caused by the straps. 

Closed Foot Fins: Snug & Lightweight

Ideal for warm waters, these fins are full boot fins that you slip your foot into. The fit is super important when you’re considering this fin; they should be snug but not too tight. These fins are not ideal for people with a high arch, as the fit will most likely not be comfortable. Packing closed foot fins is convenient because they tend to weigh less than other types of fins.

Here are a few recommendations if a closed foot fin sounds perfect for you: 

These full foot diving fins come highly recommended for their comfort and power. These fins minimize cramping and ankle fatigue, are comfortable with or without socks, and fit true to size. Because these fins have a split fin design, not much effort is needed from the diver to feel their power. 

The HEAD by Mares snorkel fins are a stiff design that makes these fins great for fitness snorkeling. Fins are lightweight, but give you a powerful kick. Not only are these fins comfortable, but the soles of these fins are wide which makes them easy to put on and take off. 

Wildhorn Topside Snorkel Fins fit like a shoe and allow you to snorkel and walk on land comfortably. These fins have an adjustable velcro strap for even more support around each ankle to lessen the chance of leg and ankle fatigue. The only drawback is these fins are a shorter style, so you may need to work a little harder in the water. 

Open Heel Fins: Adjustable and Great for Cool Water

Ideal for cooler waters, these fins are best paired with booties. A huge benefit to open heel fins is they come with an adjustable strap that guarantees a good fit now, and over time, making these fins ideal for children. If you’ll be walking through any type of rough terrain to get to your snorkel spot, consider open heel fins for the added cushion and protection they provide. 

Check out these recommendations for open heel fins: 

The open heel design of these CAPAS snorkel fins means they can fit an array of sizes. The one-time adjustment strap on these fins ensures they’ll fit snug but not tight. Fins are made of high-quality material and are available in both kids and adult sizes. 

These Cressi Pro Light fins are great for beginners and experts alike. The foot pocket is placed beneath the blade for more power and efficiency. The blade of these fins is flexible, and the fin adjusts while kicking. It is recommended to wear fin socks with these particular fins. 

These fins have a stiff blade that is engineered to be both curved and tapered. Fins are reliable, durable, and made with strong rubber that won’t wear out or lose stiffness. 

Paddle Fins: Sturdy and Powerful

Paddle fins are single blade fins that are stiff and durable. Paddle fins are recommended if you know there’s a chance you may be swimming in a current. These fins also make it easy to maneuver in small, confined spaces. 

If paddle fins sound just right for you, check out these recommendations: 

SeaDive snorkeling fins are ideal for larger adults but come with an adjustable strap to fit a range of food width and lengths. These fins can be worn with fin socks or barefoot. 

These fins are color-coded by size, so be sure to refer to the size chart prior to purchasing. The long blade design of these fins increases leg strength and speed. These fins are great for all ages and all abilities and are made of soft natural rubber to ensure comfort.

These long, curved blade paddle fins are great for long-term wear and are available in sizes xxxs – xxl. These fins require a swimmer to give just enough power to get a great exercise while in the water. 

Split Fins: Best for A Long Snorkel Excursion

While split fins aren’t as stiff as a traditional snorkel fin, they do make kicking easier which can reduce leg cramping and fatigue. Split fins are ideal if you plan on going on a long duration snorkel. 

Check out these recommendations for split fins: 

Atomic Aquatic split fins are designed for maximum power and speed. These fins are super lightweight, but simple and powerful in both currents and calm waters. Fins have a soft full foot pocket and can be worn with or without socks. 

These split fins cut through the water with propulsion effect, and have less surface resistance since water can move across and through fins. Fins also have anti-slip bottoms and long-lasting full pocket long fins that go all the way around the foot. 

Seacurrent fins are made out of tough material that makes them strong and powerful in the water. Fins are comfortable, flexible, and power-resistant.

Read more about specific long fins for snorkeling if you’ve decided those are best for you.

Where to Buy Snorkel Fins (& Other Snorkeling Gear!)

If you live near water, you have the advantage of being able to shop small at a locally owned business that sells everything you could possibly need. Shop local for high-quality gear and to support your local community. 

If you don’t live near water, odds are you’ll be purchasing your gear at a sporting goods store or online. These are still great places to buy your snorkeling gear. Sporting good stores offer great customer service, and typically offer a huge selection to choose from no matter what you’re looking for or what your budget is. 

You also have the benefit of being able to try on gear in stores, ask associates for help, and if a store doesn’t have your size or brand preference, they usually have the ability to have items shipped for free from other store locations. 

Shopping online can be intimidating, but most places offer great customer service if you have any questions or concerns. You also have the added benefit of reading reviews from verified purchasers before you buy. Here are a few top-rated online retailers to buy snorkel gear from: 

Leisure Pro offers a variety of snorkels, masks, fins, sets, bags, vests, and accessories. You can also take advantage of free shipping, a 60-day return policy for a full refund, and a 120-day return policy for store credit. This website also offers a live chat option or 800 number to call regarding your purchases. 

Amazon guarantees speedy delivery if you’re a Prime member, and often purchases qualify for free shipping and free returns. Through Amazon you can contact sellers directly should you need to, and there are also a ton of buyer reviews for most products. 

Divers Direct offers a variety of snorkel sets, masks, snorkel, fins, kids gear, vests, and bags. If you spend over $49, you’ll qualify for free shipping, and if you place an order before 4 PM/EST you will receive same-day shipping. As for customer service, you have the ability to fill out a form on their website and receive an e-mail in return or call their 800 number between 10 AM and 6 PM EST. 

Free diving, covering more ground, saving energy, and being able to handle currents are some of the benefits of fins, as this female free diver shows
Fins offer many advantages, including ability to free dive

Are Snorkel Fins Necessary?

While it’s not illegal to go snorkeling without fins, it’s not recommended. No matter how strong of a swimmer you are or how many times you’ve been snorkeling, snorkeling fins serve many purposes. 

  1. Snorkeling with fins conserves your energy. Wearing fins means that your legs won’t get as tired while you swim, and you’re less likely to experience any leg cramping while underwater. 
  2. Fins give you the ability to swim faster. In fact, you’re able to cover a lot more ground and see a lot more things quicker and efficiently with fins on. 
  3. Fins give you buoyancy. Buoyancy is important while snorkeling for a couple of different reasons. One, it keeps your legs from dangling in the water and potentially harming marine life; and two, it keeps you from hurting yourself on rocks or coral. 
  4. They could save your life. Fins make it easier to swim in active waters should you find yourself caught in a current. 
  5. Not only do fins give you the ability to swim faster, but swim faster in all directions. Fins improve your vertical swimming as well as horizontal swimming, and both directions are important when snorkeling. 
  6. Snorkeling is not an extreme sport and wearing fins allows you to streamline, and not have to use your body as much. While there are many health benefits to snorkeling, it’s much more leisurely than most water sports and a good pair of fins will ensure you can move quickly and efficiently. 

Benefits of Snorkeling

Whether you’re new to snorkeling or an old pro, there are many health benefits to enjoy from snorkeling. 

  1. Snorkeling improves your mental health. All forms of exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Being underwater also naturally relieves stress just by being in a quiet, peaceful environment. 
  2. Snorkeling improves breathing. One of the first things you’ll learn as you prepare to go snorkeling will be how to breathe underwater; this deep breathing is also great for improving your respiratory system.
  3. Snorkeling strengthens your muscles. When you go snorkeling, you have to move your entire body against the water. Wetsuits and fins will make this movement easier, but your muscles are still doing a lot of work. 
  4. Snorkeling is great for joint mobility. If you suffer from pain and stiffness and you find a lot of other forms of exercise, such as walking or jogging, are more painful than beneficial, water sports are going to be great for you due to the low impact water has on your joints and muscles. 
  5. Snorkeling is fun for everyone. Whether you’re a strong swimmer, don’t know how to swim, are 10 years old or 100 years old, there really are no strict requirements to go snorkeling making this the perfect adventure for anybody. 

Snorkeling Tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you embark on your snorkeling adventure: 

  1. Take deep breaths to relax yourself. Breathing is going to feel a little different underwater, but don’t panic, just focus on taking deep breaths and you’ll stay relaxed. 
  1. Use the buddy system. Snorkeling is an awesome experience to share with someone, and it ensures that another person will be there in case something goes wrong, or you just need a helping hand with something. 
  1. Make sure your mask is comfortable, fits snug, and you know how to use it. Knowing your mask is the perfect fit and that you feel comfortable using it will give you confidence and a sound mind on your dive. 
  1. Know the weather and ocean conditions. Weather, currents, waves, and winds are ever-changing, be sure you’re aware of ocean conditions so you can plan accordingly. If you’re a beginner, you may not want to go out on choppy waters, while thrill-seekers will probably prefer the challenge. 
  1. Don’t touch coral or marine life, and don’t stand on rocks. Take it all in while you’re underwater, but think of it as a museum – look, but don’t touch. Touching living organisms underwater can actually be very harmful to them. 
  1. Consider a flotation device. If you aren’t a strong swimmer or don’t think you’ll have the stamina for your snorkeling excursion, either ask for or purchase a flotation device. If you go with a group and guide, oftentimes the guide has one that swimmers can use at any time for as long as they need to. For more on this, check out our full coverage on using flotation devices.
Snorkeling without fins doesn’t get you far and can be unsafe
Snorkeling without fins is really just floating

Final Thoughts

Snorkeling is a great way to do some underwater sightseeing, but before you go, it’s important to have the right gear including the perfect pair of fins for you. 

To choose the right pair of fins you’ll need to consider how calm or active the waters will be, the temperature of the water you’ll be in, how you plan on packing/traveling with your fins, the fit, the blade length, the fin design, and whether or not you’ll need or want swim socks. 

There are a number of fins to choose from including travel fins which are shorter and easier to pack, traditional fins which are long and durable, closed foot fins that are ideal for warm waters, open heel fins which are ideal for cold waters, paddle fins which are more ideal for currents, and split fins which are all-around high performance. 

Snorkeling fins are beneficial for a number of reasons including conserving your energy on your dive, giving you the ability to swim faster, and providing buoyancy. Happy diving! 


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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