Planning on a snorkeling trip this summer? Remember that your snorkeling ensemble is not complete without a reliable pair of long fins. While all snorkel fins may look the same, they do vary in quality and offer different levels of ease in underwater movement. So what are the best long fins for snorkeling?
Many premium-quality long fins come highly recommended by snorkeling enthusiasts. These include the light and durable Cressi Pluma Full Foot Pocket Fins and the comfortable and reasonably priced U.S. Divers Sea Lion Fins.
Before you go out to shop for snorkeling gear and head to the beach, there are several things you need to know about snorkel fins first. You need to understand what makes one product different from the other, and what makes one a good pair of long fins to use for your snorkeling adventure. Ultimately, the product you choose will depend on your preference, your budget, and your snorkeling skill level.
The Best Long Fins for Snorkeling
We have come up with a list of the best long fins available today. These products come highly recommended by snorkeling experts and enthusiasts, and they cater to different preferences. These fins also have a wide price range to cater to different budget limitations. We compared snorkeling fins versus diving fins in this article.
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Cressi Pluma is considered by many as an excellent multi-use fin, making it perfect for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. These Italian-made full-foot fins boast Cressi’s patented construction system and unique three-material molding process, which makes them extremely lightweight and super comfortable. They also guarantee excellent power transmission and high performance in the water.
These fins feature a non-slip elastomer thermo-rubber foot pocket inside that cradles your foot. The blades, on the other hand, are made of light and reactive polypropylene, which has a snappy rebound and which allows you to execute fluid and powerful kicks, even through current. You can enjoy hours in the water without suffering any undue leg muscle strain.
U.S. Divers Sea Lion fins are compact-sized fins that are great for travel. Despite their slightly larger design, they would fit in most suitcases or backpacks. They are full-foot pocket fins, so they come in specific foot sizes.
These budget-friendly fins are made of very soft buoyant rubber that is comfortable to wear, even for an entire day of snorkeling. They are ideal for snorkeling, as well as for other water sports.
The Atomic Aquatics Full Foot Split Fins is a great choice if you wish to go fast underwater without spending too much energy kicking. This is because split fins deliver more propulsion with less resistance in the water, with the water moving between the split down the middle of the soft elastomeric blade. This, as a result, reduces stress and strain when you kick, as well as higher sustained speed.
According to this review on Watersports Mag while these fins are suitable for beginners, they have to learn to master the flutter kick to use these split-fins well. So this product takes some getting used to.
These fins have a closed heel and open toe design. They are very lightweight at 3 pounds. In fact, they weigh less compared to most open-heel fins. They also offer a comfortable open-toe soft full foot pocket and inner soleplate that creates a soft yet rigid platform beneath your foot for better power transfer to the blade.
The Oceanic Viper Full Foot Fins are made of a composite polymer, which is tear- and scratch-resistant, so they can withstand rubbing against rocks and corals. The Viper fins have a longer blade design that makes them more efficient in the water than standard fins. Snorkeling longer distances will also cause less fatigue.
This product features the Flexible Power Thrust Channel that directs water off the blade’s tip for improved power. The fins have a very comfortable foot pocket, so it is no longer necessary for you to use a bootie. There are power vents near the toes, which reduces stress while you accelerate water over the fin.
Since it has a closed foot design and is not adjustable, getting the right fit is essential. This product comes in different color choices.
The U.S. Divers Proflex II Diving Fins are considered to be one of the best snorkel fins for those with wide feet. That’s because inside the fin is a soft foot pocket that conforms to your foot. Still, however, you will have to make sure that you try them on before purchasing because while they are great for wide feet, they are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. They are comfortable but not too soft. That means they can still cause blisters if you get the wrong fit.
These flexible fins promise not to put a strain on the muscles in your legs and feet. They feature flex zones that help cup the water, allowing you to move effortlessly and efficiently as you snorkel. Their long blades flex a lot, so if you don’t have hard kicks, these are a good match for you. They also have cutouts on the side of the curved-edged blade, giving less resistance or drag as you propel forward.
This dynamic product is excellent for casual snorkeling, where you won’t have to go fast. They are versatile and can be used in saltwater and freshwater and by both a first-time snorkeler or a seasoned pro.
The Phantom Aquatics Speed Sport Adjustable Snorkeling Fin features an extended soleplate that adds thrust, supports your foot, and relieves leg and foot strain. This fin has a simple yet reliable buckle strap adjustment system on an open-toe and open-heel design, making it easy for you to put on and take off.
This fin has a contoured foot pocket for utmost comfort, and you can use it with or without booties. It is made of high-grade polypropylene material, which delivers more propulsion with every kick. Its structurally optimized hinge point helps maintain the fin’s correct shape throughout the kick cycle and contributes to efficient energy transfer.
A mesh bag is included in this product and helps you dry the fins while you carry them.
The Italian-designed Mares Avanti Super Channel Full Foot Fins is something you should get if you are into snorkeling, as well as scuba diving and free diving. This multi-purpose pair of fins is good to use for all these water activities, so you don’t need to get something for each one. Each fin has a very flexible center area with channels that mimics a split-fin motion to some degree.
This product has a three-channel blade and is made of tecralene or thermoplastic rubber for superior performance. The side rails on the fins are made of a harder plastic. As such, this might not be the best fins to buy if you have tall or wide feet or if you have bunions.
It has a rugged and durable construction. You will also love its soft orthopedic foot pocket, which is both narrow and shallow and which makes it super comfortable.
The Frog Plus Snorkeling Fins is another product from Italian manufacturer Cressi. These fins have an open-heel design and are more flexible when it comes to sizing. They allow you to put on a bootie to protect your feet from the cold or from getting chaffed.
Cressi Frog Plus fins are made from polymer, which is both extremely durable and flexible, especially over a wide range of temperatures. Because of their flexible blades, they are able to give you the propulsion you need.
These fins utilize Cressi’s patented three-material injection molding process that gives you a comfortable foot pocket rubber that extends up to the side rails. They also feature channels on their edges, which add to the thrust and to their efficiency. Because of this, you will enjoy less fatigue in your legs and feet.
The TUSA SF-15 X-Pert Zoom Z3 Open Heel Scuba Diving Fins come highly recommended for those who are serious travelers with serious snorkeling goals. These fins are made for diving, but due to their design, portability, thrust, and performance, they are perfect for snorkeling, too.
This product boasts three materials used in its patented design, which features an optimal blade length, as well as an enhanced propeller-fin technology for maximum thrust. There is a split down the blade, and it is wider than the usual splits you would see in other brands. This is to deliver better efficiency while the reinforced blade rails keep the fins stable and steady. This feature also allows you to use different kick styles.
What snorkel experts love the most about this product is that it makes way for the efficient transfer of power from the foot to the fin, allowing you to move smoothly and quickly through the water with as little effort as it takes. Small kicks go a long way.
Moreover, the fins have quick-release straps that make them easy to wear and easy to take off with water shoes or boots (read more). Snorkelers who have tried this product warn, however, that while this is great gear to take with you on a trip, it is still heavier compared to plain snorkel fins. As such, you will need to plan your luggage accordingly. Additionally, the weight makes it necessary for you to wear booties, lest the back strap chafe against your feet.
The Aqua Lung Express Full Foot Fins boast customized techno-polymer alloy blade that generates a high spring effect. These fins are also flexible and responsive, and they allow you to move fast.
At the base of the blade is the Armadillo membrane technology, which absorbs energy while you do a power stroke and releases it before the upstroke. Then there are rubber side ribs that direct water down the fin’s length, therefore minimizing the amount of energy wasted from the spill-over. To put it all simply, your every kick gets a power boost, and every energy you put towards your leg work propels your movement through the water.
These fins have a mid-foot flex joint to attach the blade to the side of the ergonomic foot pocket. This reduces strain on your toes and ankles. There are also anti-slip rubber pads on the bottom of the foot pocket for traction outside of the water.
Why You Need Long Fins for Snorkeling
Wearing a pair of snorkel fins will make a difference when you are moving underwater. But what exactly does it do? These are the benefits of wearing fins when snorkeling:
- You can move faster in the water. Snorkel fins allow you to move and swim faster. This also means that you’ll be able to cover more territory within a given amount of time than you would without fins.
- You can save energy. Snorkeling requires plenty of kicking so that it can be exhausting for your legs. With a pair of good fins, you won’t tire as easily. It will reduce the amount of energy you will need to move around.
- Fins give your legs buoyancy. Fins give your feet, and the lower half of your body in general, buoyancy. So when you are snorkeling, you don’t have to worry about your legs dangling down and hitting a rock underneath.
- Wearing fins for safety and protection. If there is water current and you find yourself caught in one, having a pair of fins will make you more effective at fighting it. Fins also keep your feet protected from stings and cuts.
When Do You Need to Get Fins for Snorkeling?
Everyone knows that fins are a must-have gear when you are going scuba diving. But are they really necessary in snorkeling? When do you really need to get a pair of snorkel fins?
A pair of snorkel fins is something you can do without if:
- you only want to give snorkeling a try,
- you intend to go snorkeling for only a short while, and
- you don’t have any plans to go snorkeling regularly or do it again soon.
However, even if you don’t want to shell out money for this additional snorkel gear, you might want to consider renting or borrowing a pair. Most snorkel excursion venues or companies have snorkel gear for tourists to rent.
Meanwhile, snorkel experts suggest that you buy a good pair of fins if you are planning to go snorkeling frequently or if you want to snorkel for a longer period of time. Wearing them will enable you to swim more efficiently, to cover more ground and see more of the underwater life, and to have a great overall snorkeling experience.
Getting fins is also recommended if you are snorkeling somewhere with water currents. You should wear them as a safety precaution. Kicking and paddling your legs without fins can be difficult and exhausting as you fight the current. You should remember, though, that if you are not a strong swimmer to begin with, you should be careful when you go into the sea, fins or no fins.
Fins also come in really useful if you want to free dive when you go snorkeling, and more so if you are wearing a rash guard or a wetsuit, which gives you added buoyancy and makes it difficult for you to get below the surface.
Moreover, fins are an essential part of your ensemble if you are on an organized group trip and will be snorkeling from a boat. You might take a long route, and long fins will help you easily catch up with the rest of the group in case you fall behind. Snorkeling trips will also offer fin rentals.
Buying Snorkel Fins: Things to Consider
For you to have the most enjoyable snorkeling experience every time, you have to make sure that you will be able to propel yourself smoothly through the water. And you can do this by getting the best snorkeling gear available. This includes picking the best fins or flippers on the market.
What are the things you need to consider when choosing the best fins for your snorkeling adventure?
The length of your fin blades will determine their surface area, and this affects how much forward momentum you get each time you kick. Moreover, the length of the blade will determine how easy it will be for you to walk on land. Short fins are typically easier for walking than long fins. So more people think they are the better choice for snorkeling.
Short Fins or Long Fins?
If you are trying to decide whether to get a pair of short fins or long fins, there are a few factors you need to look into.
1. Will you be traveling with the fins?
Depending on where you are going and your mode of transportation, short fins might be more convenient to pack and carry than long fins. However, if you are not going too far away and are driving a car, lugging a pair of long fins around won’t be an issue at all.
2. What is your snorkeling skill level?
If you are new to snorkeling or if you are not a strong swimmer, short fins might be easier for you to use. Short fins are also a wiser choice if you feel like your legs are not strong and fit. Long fins give you better propulsion, but they take more strength and more control to kick.
3. Are there strong water currents?
If there is a strong water current, you will need long fins for the extra propulsion they provide.
Size and Adjustability
Some fins are available in specific sizes or for a particular fit, while others are adjustable. You might opt for adjustability if you think your feet are still growing or if you intend the fins to be used by other people too, like friends or family members. However, if you are getting fins for your exclusive use, it would be a good idea to pick a pair that fits comfortably and snugly around your feet.
Check out the flexibility of the fin’s blade as it will tell you about the amount of strength or force you need to put into kicking. As such, avoid fins with blades that are too stiff that they would require a lot of leg power. Instead, pick something that is flexible enough that it can push a lot of water and easily drive you forward, but not something floppy.
Get fins that are comfortable to wear, regardless of whether they are adjustable or in a specific fit. Experts suggest using a boot with your fins to avoid blisters and chafing on your feet as they rub against the fin. An open-heel fin would allow you to wear a bootie. A closed-foot fin would make it hard for you to wear a boot, unless it is a thin one.
Split Fins or Paddle Fins?
What’s the difference between split and paddle fins, and which one is right for you? Paddle fins are the typical fins with a one-piece blade design. These fins work just fine for most. Split fins, on the other hand, are fins whose blades are split down the middle. These act like two fins, and they offer more propulsion.
Foot Pocket or Strap?
Are you looking for a full-footed pocket or for a sling-back heel strapped pocket? If you are going snorkeling in warm water, you won’t be needing thermal protection to keep your feet warm. As such, a full-footed fin is what you’re looking for.
If you are going snorkeling in colder water, you will need thermal protection. In that case, you will have to wear footwear or booties underneath your fins and will, therefore, need a pair with adjustable straps over the heel.
You will also need a strapped heel pocket and boots if you anticipate walking over rough or rocky terrains before going snorkeling. Personally, I wear water shoes or boots for snorkeling unless I’m only doing it from a boat on a trip where I’m using the provided free full foot fins. Read more on water shoes and fins in my post explaining this.
Benefits of Open Heels
Opting for fins with the open-heel design usually means wearing booties to protect your heels from chafing. Booties are especially necessary if your fins are rather heavy. Not wearing booties underneath would mean your bare skin on the heels continually rubbing against the straps as you kick and swim.
When you are wearing open-heeled or strapped fins, you can easily walk out in your booties in areas with sharp corals, rocks, and sea urchins. When navigating in terrains like this, you can just wear your boots and only put your fins on over them the moment you can float and start snorkeling. Walking on just your boots can also help when climbing up or down boat ladders with small metal steps or rungs. They help with traction and with the comfort of your bare feet on the rungs. Additionally, for those with bunions or other foot issues, the boots can provide added padding and protection from rubbing, chafing, and blisters.
Keep the weight of your fins in mind, especially if you plan to travel and pack them in a suitcase. Some fins are smaller and lighter, and these are ideal for snorkelers who travel a lot looking for great snorkeling sites.
Another factor to consider when buying a pair of fins is its price and your budget. High-end fins can be really expensive as manufacturers have spent a lot of time on research and on technology to perfect their products. And if you are into snorkeling as a sport or hobby, you should think about it as an investment. Get something that gives you great value for your money.
However, if budget is not on your side or if you don’t think it is wise to spend a lot on something you don’t get to do often, there are still great fins you can get at reasonable prices. You don’t have to settle for poor-quality fins if you couldn’t afford the more expensive ones.