Want to swim further, with less effort? Sounds like you need a pair of snorkel fins. In this post, you’ll learn how to choose the best snorkeling fins. Our guide will sort out the 3 types of fins (split, short, and paddle) and 2 types of fit (open heel and full foot). We cover adult and kids fins – specially for travelers.
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Best Snorkeling Fins for Travelers
Nothing says vacation like packing snorkeling gear. Fun in the sun, returning home tanned with stories of days spent swimming, snorkeling and long walks on the beach.
Or, even just going to a local beach, snorkeling is one of those family friendly activities that make a trip worthwhile.
With that in mind we’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you find the right fins and fit for you. We’ve included everything – it’s pretty big, so we’ve split it into 4 main sections:
- Top Picks: Best value, premium and kids (jump to section)
- How to get the best snorkel fin fit: Learn the differences between full-foot and open-heel, split fin and paddle, and how to choose the best fins for you. (jump to section)
- Best Snorkeling Fins: For beginners, travelers, and kids. (jump to section)
- Snorkeling Tips: Includes safety, etiquette, and pro tips. (jump to section)
Overall, this is a comprehensive guide about all things ‘snorkel’ so if you just want to know some great fins to buy here’s our top pick…
U.S. Divers Pro FX Fins are our choice for best value snorkeling fins. The gel straps are comfortable and adjustable.
The full blade of the fin is made of composite material for better snap and thrust. And because they are slightly longer you get further with each kick, making for a leisurely pace … not a ‘kick like crazy’ swim where you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere.
They pack up neatly within their own mesh carry bag and are still small enough to fit into most carry-on luggage to travel.
Our Top Picks: Premium Snorkel Fins
Big enough to provide a noticeable strength to your swim, they’re also compact enough to take on holiday. And the full-foot fit means you don’t need extra fin boots.
Our Top Picks: Kids Snorkel Fins
They’re designed for years of use and have adjustable straps, so as the kids grow all you have to do it let the straps out.
Designed especially for kids they even have a large thumb loop making it easy for the kids to get them on and off.
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How to Get the Best Fit
If snorkeling in tropical waters is in your plans, you’re in for a treat. But you wouldn’t be the first person to head into the water only to discover that your fins are giving you blisters.
Chafing and swollen/sore feet are not fun for anyone. Even less if you are in an amazing snorkel destination.
To prevent this, we’ve put together a short list on how to find a good fit so everyone enjoys their beach time to the max. Here are some things to consider before you buy:
The Goldilocks Fit: You want your fins not too tight, not too loose, but you guessed it… just right. Sometimes you can be tempted to get any old fins and then jump right in.
If your fins are too tight this can be uncomfortable leading to blisters, missing skin from rubbing, cramps and even losing feeling in your toes.
Always make sure and check to buy the right size in plenty of time to return if it’s too tight in the full foot fins.
Full-foot vs. Open-heel Fin: Snorkel Fins Compared
Basically, there are two types of snorkel fins:
- Full-foot fin: These have a boot-like fit, with no adjustable strap.
- Open-heel fin: These are more common and can be easily adjusted for size. For comfort, many snorkelers like to add a snorkel boot (making it somewhat like the full-foot fin).
This comes down to personal preference. Both of these options are great, we’ll give you the pros and cons so you can decide which you prefer.
Full-foot fin: Pros and Cons
- Pro: Comfortable, don’t have to adjust anything.
- Pro: Less gear to lug – no need to bring neoprene dive booties.
- Pro: Generally lighter and more travel friendly.
- Con: If they are a little too tight you can end up with cramps, squashed toes and an uncomfortable swim.
- Con: Because there are no booties, your foot has no protection walking in/out of the ocean. Not a big deal on sand beaches, but lava and coral landscapes can shred your feet pretty quick.
Open-heel (adjustable) fin: Pros and Cons
- Pro: Adjustable straps mean you can wear dive boots which is added protection for your feet and beneficial if you have to go over rocks, lava, or coral to get to the ocean. Plus, it means you can share with others, they just adjust to suit them.
- Pro: Dive boots also keep your feet warmer in cold water.
- Con: If not fitted correctly and are loose, they can slip off when you jump in or if kicking too hard.
- Con: Generally a little more expensive and heavier than full-foot fins.
Adjustable straps: Open-heel fins are versatile and able to be worn with or without booties. They are also quick and easy to adjust in the water by tightening the straps.
Split, Paddle (Solid) or Short Blades?
There are three types of blades. The names pretty well describe the differences.
- Split blade: These have a split up the middle, allowing each half to move somewhat independently.
- Paddle blade: These are the traditional style fins. The blade is one solid piece.
- Short blade: As the name suggests, this style blade is shorter than the standard blade. These are easier to walk in. They also provide less thrust than a longer blade.
With fins: length = propulsion.
There are debates that paddle fins are better than split fins, which is more of an issue for scuba divers rather than snorkelers.
With split fins the propulsion come from the speed of the kick whereas with paddle fins it is the strength of the divers kick. Basically, it depends on the type of swimmer you are and what you prefer.
Most snorkel fins are solid paddle fins that are short and compact, allowing you to maneuver easily on the surface. The huge long fins that are used by spear fisherman and free divers aren’t necessary when you are only swimming /snorkeling on the surface.
So, short, compact and solid are designed for snorkeling where you are leisurely swimming.
Now all you have to do is choose the fins you think are right for you. It’s all about personal preference and what they will be used for.
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Choosing the Best Fins for You: 4 Considerations
Here are some things to consider when buying snorkel fins:
- Usage: How often they will be used? Maybe once a year on vacation, or every weekend at your local beach?
- Comfort: How far or long do you usually swim? Of course, you’ll want to be comfortable.
- Safety: Do you want to protect your feet by wearing booties to enter the water?
- Size: Will they fit in checked luggage for your next vacation?
10 Best Snorkel Fins for Beginners
With these considerations in mind, here are some great choices:
1. U.S. Divers Proflex FX Fins
Best Value Choice: U.S. Divers Proflex FX Fins are built for comfort no matter what size your foot is. The gel adjustable straps are soft enough so as not to rub and because they are adjustable you can have the freedom of wearing little booties or socks with them for added comfort and protection entering or exiting the water. Plus, you can lend them to friends, all you have to do is adjust the straps.
The foot pocket is soft, cradling your foot while swimming for added comfort while the full blade of the fin is harder allowing for maximum propulsion through the water. Because they are slightly longer you get further with each kick making for a leisurely swim not a ‘kick like crazy’ swim where you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere.
They pack up neatly within their own mesh carry bag and are still small enough to fit into most carry-on luggage to travel.
2. Wildhorn Outfitters Topside Snorkel Fin
Best Premium Choice: Wildhorn Outfitters Topside Snorkel Fin is a comfortable way to snorkel in a full boot fin. It fits like a shoe (because it actually is one) making it easier to walk around in, swim, snorkel or enjoy a variety of other water sports.
Big enough to provide a noticeable strength to your swim, they’re also compact enough to take on holiday.
3. Anggo Short Dive Fins
Anggo Short Dive Fins have a soft foot pouch for maximum comfort, it’s as easy as slipping them on and you’re ready to go! They come with pads to keep them in shape when you are not using them – so they’ll be just as comfortable the next time you use them.
Also complete with their own quick dry mesh bag makes drying, storing and space saving easy. They’re small and lightweight too, easily fitting in your beach or travel bag.
Best Snorkel Fins For Kids (Open-heel)
4. Cressi Rocks Kids Fins
They’re designed for years of use, made from premium materials, and have adjustable straps so as the kids grow all you have to do is let the straps out.
Easy to use and a great money saver not having to buy new fins for each year’s holiday. Designed especially for kids they even have a large thumb loop making it easy for the kids to get them on and off.
5. Capas Snorkel Fins
Their adjustable straps and size range means they’ll last for years as the kids grow. Lightweight and small enough to pack in luggage, they’ll be enjoyed for years to come no matter where you go.
Premium Snorkel Fins
Suitable for any aquatic activity these fins are built for comfort. You can go barefoot, with neoprene socks, or booties for diving.
The fin pocket surrounding your feet feels luxurious cradling your feet in a softer elastomer for maximum comfort on those long swims, hours of snorkeling or scuba diving.
6. Cressi Snorkeling Adjustable Fins
These fins have a side rail running along the extra flexible blade which allows maximum power transmission. This makes swimming easy so you can conserve your energy.
And let’s not forget, the easily adjustable straps are perfect for anyone in the family to use, all you have to do is pull.
7. Cressi Full-foot Pocket Fins
Specially designed for snorkeling or just a long swim, they will make your time in the water worth it.
Travel / Short Snorkel Fins
Looking for a compact pair of great fins? Here are a couple of options that will fit in your carry-on luggage.
8. Cressi Agua Short Travel Fins
Made of quality materials the soft foot pocket is self-adjusting, molding to your foot for an amazing fit and comfort.
9. Seavenger Torpedo Swim Fins
Available in a range of fun colors, they are durable, compact, easy to slip on and off, and also comfortable enough to go barefoot.
10. Cressi Palau Short Fins
Suitable for ocean swimming, snorkeling or even in the pool doing laps, they can go everywhere and do everything.
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Snorkeling Tips and Safety
Here are a few tips for a successful snorkeling trip.
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1. Entering the Water From Shore
Walking into the water with your fins on is a fun way to end up stumbling around looking like a tourist. To save yourself some embarrassment, walk in backwards when you have fins on.
The fins are designed for propulsion through the water from behind. So, when you’re wearing them and walking forward the front is pushing through the water, doing the exact opposite of what they are designed to do.
This is why you’ll see bunches of giggling tourists falling over when walking in from shore. It’s also a good reason to wear booties and just walk in, then slip your fins on when you’re in the water.
If you have full-foot fins and there’s a clear sandy bottom with no hazards then it’s easier to walk in up to your waist and then put your fins on. Otherwise walking in backwards is your best bet.
2. Snorkel Safety From a Boat
When jumping into the water from a boat there are other considerations. Like if there are already other people in the water. Always remember to look down first so you don’t jump on top of anyone hurting not only them, but yourself as well.
Of course, if you’re slipping off the side of the boat, make sure there is nothing that your swimsuit can catch on.
The last thing you want is to hear a big rip as you go over the side and come up with half of your swimsuit missing or a big hole in your shorts!
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3. Snorkeling Etiquette
We all love snorkeling. It is easy to get swept away with the color and wonders around and not really pay attention to where you are going, who is around you or how close other people are.
Hands up those who have had someone swim into them or been kicked by another snorkeler? I know I have, so to avoid this, here are some tips to make sure everyone on the trip has a good time…and there aren’t any mishaps.
- Buddies. Just like in diving, it’s good to snorkel with a buddy. Not only is there someone to swim around with making it more fun, it means you can be a little further away and reduce the risk of kicking anyone else around you and still feel safe because you’re not alone. Plus, it decreases the chances of you getting a fin to the face by accident from another snorkeler.
- Look up. Every now and then just raise your eyes. A snorkel mask has a good range of vision so it’s easy to just raise your eyes and make sure you aren’t about to swim into anyone as you are powering along trying to keep up with that sea turtle you just saw. Just remember, only your eyes, not your whole head, or your snorkel is likely to get water in it and you’ll have to give up the chase coughing and spluttering.
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What’s really out there?
The ocean is a big place. There is more in it than Nemo and his harmless friends so it’s worth a moment to think about what else you may encounter out there.
Depending on your level of comfort, from freaked and paranoid about sharks to blissfully unaware of anything around you, it is a good idea to know what you may encounter.
For example: Some areas might be considered shark free, but are there other things you need to know about? What about sea urchins that you might step on?
Not only is this painful because their spines break off in your foot, it’s a holiday wrecker for sure. So you see, it is worth a moment to ask the question: Is there anything to watch out for?
No need to freak out. Just watch where you step. Snorkeling is fun. It’s easy to get swept away in the excitement and not watch where you are going when entering or exiting the water.
Where are you going snorkeling? What is your favorite type of fin? What do you hope to see on your next snorkel? Join me in the comments!
Bryan Haines is a co-founder and blogger on GudGear – and is working to make it the best resource for outside gear. He is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel and photographer at Click Like This. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.