If you find yourself here, you’re probably in the midst of figuring out how to best share snorkeling with a kid who is near and dear to you.
What an awesome gift! Snorkeling will definitely make for some awesome shared lifetime memories and provide lots of cool underwater stuff to learn.
And, first up for getting that kid (or kids) on their way to joining you in the water: find them a kids snorkel set.
But, there are hundreds of options. Where to start? (This article is a good place to start, of course, but humor me for a moment.)
Ultimately, the best kids snorkel set is going to be one that is made for safety, comfort in the water, and found at a good value (and maybe even with a little fun thrown in).
We insist on safety for obvious reasons, comfort because without it our dreams of snorkeling with our kids would be short lived (you parents know), and value so that we can get excellent use out of the kids snorkel set now and still not be too upset when they eventually outgrow it in a few years (as kids do). Pretty simple overall.
But, what those things mean for different age groups (usually broken down roughly into ages 4-8, 9-12, and 13+) does vary.
Let’s look at what information you should have and which considerations you should make along the way, as well as the best kids snorkel set for each age group .
A kids snorkel set typically includes a snorkel mask for the nose and eyes, the snorkel itself for breathing with the mouth, and a pair of snorkel fins for the feet.
Some sets will come with a carrying bag of some sort, which is nice, but others may not. Ultimately, though, your focus should be on the quality of the snorkel gear itself.
It’s also possible to buy a mask and snorkel set without the fins, but those wouldn’t officially be considered “kids snorkel sets” in the same way as a complete one with fins. If you’re more interested in a mask and snorkel alone, or other pieces of kids snorkel gear, check out our rundown on all of the best individual pieces of kids snorkel gear.
1. How the Snorkel Gear Fits
The number one thing that you should be mindful of when looking for a kids snorkel set is that the gear it includes fits your child correctly.
It can be tempting to buy a snorkel set that’s “one size up” like we might do with shoes or clothes to give it a little bit of extra time before little Janie or Timmy outgrows it, but a proper fit for the size a child is now is fundamental for both snorkeling safety and enjoyment.
This is certainly important for the snorkel mask, which you want to make sure fits snugly and remains water-tight yet without any unnecessary pinching or squeezing. Both a leaky mask or an uncomfortable one are two things that can quickly degrade the snorkeling experience for a kid, so a harmonious fit is key. Fortunately, most kids snorkel sets and their manufacturers do a good job sizing gear to the right age groups, so no real need to stress.
Fit is also highly-important for the snorkel itself, given how crucial it is to a healthy and safe day spent snorkeling. There’s less of a moving target with the snorkel’s fit as there is with the mask and various face sizes, but you’ll want to make sure that the mouthpiece is a nice, medium size for your child. That is, not so large that it hurts a child’s jaw to keep in for long, and not so small that it strains the face keeping a lip seal around it. Again, snorkel manufacturers generally do a good job with this, but it’s something to be aware of as you’re helping your kid try on their gear.
Lastly, fit is of course important for the fins as well, but you have more leeway. Too small isn’t going to work, but if the fins are a touch too large on your child you can buffer a bit with water shoes or booties (I like the Mares 2mm Neoprene Warm Water Boots [Amazon]). Just make sure that they’re snug and won’t rub around while being put to use in the water. Fin blisters aren’t any fun!
2. Dry Snorkels
You may or may not know that there are different types of snorkel technology available (after all, it’s just a tube, right?), primarily coming down to wet snorkels vs. dry snorkels.
Wet snorkels are the more traditional form factor where it’s more or less just an open tube that connects your mouth to the air above your head. However, the newer dry snorkels use the same idea, but add a one-way valve at the top of the tube that aims to keep water out while still allowing you to breathe normally. They’re not always 100% effective and teaching your child how to clear a snorkel is always a worthy skill, but it’s usually really dang close to water-free.
And I would unequivocally recommend dry snorkels for kids (and honestly, dry snorkels are awesome for adults, including myself for most of the times I head out snorkeling).
They’re just such a huge difference-maker in terms of both safety and comfort, and one less barrier for your kid to have a safe and excellent time learning to snorkel.
Definitely, find a kids snorkel set that includes a dry snorkel. Thank me later.
3. Snorkel Fins
Fins might seem like a bit of the odd-one-out in kids snorkel sets since you don’t officially need fins to snorkel.
And that’s true, they aren’t an absolute requirement, but I would still highly recommend them (again, especially for kids, but I also recommend snorkel fins for adults).
Ultimately, they make a big difference. With fins, you’re able to swim farther for longer with less energy expended. It’s just how it works, and this too makes a positive impact on both safety and enjoyment in the water.
I think it’s important to go with kids snorkel sets from established and trusted snorkel gear manufacturers.
It may be tempting at times to save a few bucks by going with an unknown brand on an online marketplace somewhere, but since all of this gear essentially boils down to safety equipment, I’m more than happy to spend a little extra for something I know has thorough testing, longevity, and a good safety record behind it.
The best kids snorkel set for kids from ages 4-8 from my view is the Mares Sea Pals Kids Snorkel Set (here on Amazon).
First, it checks all of our boxes for safety, comfort, and value. Mares is a well-established snorkel gear company with an excellent safety record (all the way since 1949), they have a great design team who likely actually snorkel with their kids themselves so they’re tuned in well to the round developing face shapes of this age group, and all of Mares’ gear across the entire company (including this kids snorkel set) does a good job at balancing cost vs. performance, so there’s solid value to be had.
Plus, what a unique and fun snorkel set this is with the colorful sea mascot carrying bag and coordinating gear. There’s a certain magic about the way 4-to-8-year-olds see the world that can really make snorkeling extra special — not only in the wonder they experience seeing things they haven’t ever seen before, but even in just being able to get there.
For example, while certainly an intangible benefit, having a kids snorkel set that acts as kind of a buddy can make learning to snorkel go a lot smoother. If you happen to have a child who’s a bit nervous about snorkeling, try naming their Sea Pal set together (let’s say, Esmerelda) and remind them that “Esmerelda” and her gifts are there to help them have fun and be well in the water (while you’re ultimately watching over it all, of course). It can make a real difference among this age group.
A Comfortable Dry Snorkel
As far as the snorkel equipment itself goes, it’s at a great level for kids of this age.
For starters, Mares includes their kids dry snorkel (which as I mentioned earlier is a must) with a “siliter” mouth piece which is made from softer flexible material that is typically more comfortable for young snorkelers. And, a comfortable dry snorkel is a meaningful addition to safety and comfort for this kids snorkel set.
Their dry snorkel also includes a purge valve, which is great.
A purge valve is a small reservoir that sits below the mouth of the snorkel which collects any stray water that happens to leak into the snorkel. Once there, the “valve” part of the purge valve allows you to eject that water into the ocean with a puff of air. Even if your child is focusing on other things than managing a purge valve (not unexpected at 4-8 years of age), the valve reservoir will keep drips and leaks away from the mouth, so it’s great to have on board.
Durable Snorkel Mask
Next, the snorkel mask has a tempered glass lens (which means it’s more durable and less prone to scratching — helpful when kids are responsible for their own gear) and also has a quick-release fastener on the side that can disengage the mask tightness and loosen it almost instantly.
This is especially huge for kids with longer hair which can otherwise get easily tangled in rubber snorkel mask bands, and instead the quick-release lets you slide on the mask loose and then tighten it once everyone’s hair is in place and not at risk of catching. I’ll take less drama at the beach every time!
Efficient Snorkel Fins
Last, the Sea Pals fins are well-tuned for snorkelers of this age. Not only do they match with the Sea Pal of choice itself (still fun), but the fins are designed right for smaller kids, incorporating water vents within the flat portion of the fin to let some water pass through while flippering around.
This allows for efficient propulsion in the water while requiring a bit less force to kick the fin down through the water for smaller legs that would otherwise tire more quickly. Plus, the fins’ foot holds are adjustable (not all fins are) so you’ll be able to match the needed size to your child for at least several years.
Snorkel Set Sizes
The Mares Sea Pals Kids Snorkel Set (Amazon) comes in both medium and large sizes. The medium corresponds well for kids 4-8 and is my pick for the best kids snorkel set for that group because of its track record with a great snorkel gear manufacturer, its tailored design for kids this age, and because its a great way to get your kid into the water without breaking the bank.
The large size is also great and works well for kids 9-12, though kids of that age might be starting to age out of the whimsy that this set provides. But, you know your kid best, and if they would enjoy it, it’s still a good option for slightly older kids.
Another Great Option: Cressi “The Rocks” Junior
If the animal kingdom-oriented experience of the Mares Sea Pals kids snorkel set isn’t your child’s cup of tea, I would recommend the Cressi “The Rocks” Junior Snorkeling Kit (Amazon).
Instead of the sea animal theme, the Cressi set looks just like any other snorkel set (albeit smaller) but does come in some really cool color variations that would still be fun for kids. The set does not come with as hardy of a carrying bag, though (more of a mesh sack than a nice backpack like with Sea Pals), so you may need to keep in mind some other mode of transportation for the snorkel gear from the car/condo/beach to the water (I like the Stahlsac BVI gear bag [Amazon] if I’m carrying snorkel gear for just a couple of people, or the Stahlsac Panama [Amazon] if I need to carry a family’s worth of gear).
Aside from the different looks, the snorkel gear itself is every bit as good as with the Mares Sea Pals set with a dry snorkel sporting a comfortable and flexible mouthpiece, a tempered-glass snorkel mask, and adjustable fins that are designed for lower-resistance swimming. Plus, Cressi is also a highly-regarded and established snorkel gear manufacturer, and just like Mares, does a good job producing gear that is a nice balance between price and performance.
One thing that Cressi’s “The Rocks” kids snorkel set doesn’t have compared to the Mares Sea Pals, however, is the same kind of quick-release clip on the mask. Cressi does utilize push-button buckles so you can tighten (or loosen) it on the head without much fuss, but I do prefer the Sea Pal’s quick-release overall.
Cressi’s “The Rocks” kids snorkel set (Amazon) also comes in a Small/Medium and Large/XL, and the Small/Medium would be best suited for kids 4-8.
As I mentioned in the section above on the best kids snorkel set for ages 4-8, the pick there (the Mares Sea Pals [Amazon]) does also come in a large version that would work great for ages 9-12. If your kid is somewhere in the 9-12 age range and is someone who would get a kick out of the Sea Pals motif, I say go for it.
But, assuming kids in this age group might be becoming less interested in something like Sea Pals, my recommendation is Cressi’s “The Rocks” Youth Snorkel Kit (Amazon), which is the larger L/XL version of the “Another Great Recommendation” option for ages 4-8 above. So, you can see that we have two excellent kids snorkel sets in different sizes between the offerings from Mares and Cressi.
And, that’s not really by accident. Both are very similar snorkel gear companies (both are Italian-made, both started in the 1940s, both use similar designs and technologies, both have longstanding safety records), and each company really puts time into creating snorkel gear that will work well for kids. That’s not a given; a huge number of snorkel gear companies leave kids out of their equation altogether.
That brings us the best kids snorkel set for ages 9-12 (or thereabouts): the Cressi “The Rocks” Youth set (officially, the Large/XL size).
Streamlined Snorkel Mask
Kids faces often start to change as they age through this range, and Cressi is on top of it with a slightly more streamlined designed that works great for most kids.
The snorkel mask’s lens is also made of tempered glass (so it’s more resistant to scratches, and more durable and safe overall) and elongated a little more on the sides to give a wider field of view. Great for older kids who will have more to look at once they start getting comfortable with their snorkeling.
Cressi’s snorkel mask doesn’t have the same type of quick-release clip found in the Mares Sea Pals offerings, but it probably isn’t as necessary with slightly older kids since they’re a bit more adept at managing their hair and what gets tangled in it. Instead, Cressi uses push-button strap adjustment which definitely does help make tightening and loosening the mask a lot easier overall (and potentially less painful).
Cressi Dry Snorkel with a Purge Valve
Cressi has been one of the pioneers with dry snorkels nearly since they were invented, creating so many different versions of them I’ve lost count. So, suffice it to say the company has a lot of experience with dry snorkels.
And, fortunately, Cressi adds their kids version of their main dry snorkel to this set, which as we’ve talked about, goes a long way toward safety and comfort in the water (which is important at any age).
Like the Sea Pals set, the mouthpiece is also made out of softer and more-flexible silicone, but one thing “The Rocks” kids snorkel set has that Sea Pals does not is a snorkel with a purge valve, which is great.
I mentioned earlier that dry snorkels are incredibly effective, but not quite perfect. This means that a little bit of water can still make its way into your snorkel, especially if you’re in sloshy water or are diving under the surface. One way to get rid of this water is the old fashioned head-tilt-and-blow method, but if you have a purge valve, that’s not even necessary.
Instead, with a purge valve, you can simply blow a puff of air into your snorkel and a calibrated valve at the low end of your snorkel (where the water collects away from your mouth) will release that air — along with any water that has accumulated — out of your snorkel and into the water.
It might be a little much to ask of a 4-to-8-year-old (they have a lot else they’re focusing on), but learning to use a purge valve is a great skill for 9-to-12-year-olds; one that adds even more in terms of comfort and safety (and just flat-out convenience).
Excellent Fins at This Price
Cressi has also done a ton of experimenting with snorkel fins over the years, and the fins in their “The Rocks” kids snorkel set (Amazon) are the culmination of their work for little snorkelers.
You’ll find an adjustable and sturdy-yet-flexible fin that also includes water vents (like our other options) which will help kids swim along efficiently with less force needed to glide through the water. This ultimately saves energy and just makes for a better experience. They just work well.
Kids snorkel sets are a fantastic way to get all of the basic snorkel gear needed for your child in one go, all while saving some money while you’re at it. A win-win.
But — and this isn’t really a negative — the snorkel gear in kids snorkel sets isn’t usually the most cutting edge in general terms. It’s great for kids (kids really don’t need cutting edge gear like for diving or rougher waters since their snorkeling is still pretty simple), and that’s what matters.
However, when kids start getting into the 13-and-up age range, adult snorkel gear usually starts to fit. So, it’s time to make some decisions about what level of gear your child needs.
If you have a kid in this age range who’s just starting out or continuing to learn basic snorkeling, mid-range gear is going to work just fine. That’s what we’ll focus on here. (But, if you have a mini-adult who’s getting really good at snorkeling and starting to push the limits of current gear, I’ll outline a better option below.)
For your 13-plus-year-old who is still reasonably early on in their snorkeling journey, I think the best kids snorkel set for this age is the Cressi Palau Short Fin Snorkel Set (over on Amazon). The Palau set also ranges in size from XS/S to L/XL (use your child’s shoe size as a guide when selecting the size), so it’s easy to transition your child into an “adult” snorkel set when they’re ready.
Adult Fins, But Shorter
The Cressi Palau kids snorkel set (even though officially for adults, even small ones) comes with Cressi’s Palau fins (of course), an adult-style fin that does not add water vents to the fin to decrease resistance. That means that more force will be required to push through the water, but since these are the short version of the Palau fins, less force will be needed than with a longer fin (like the Cressi Palau Long set [Amazon]).
However, the removal of the water vents and resulting increase in necessary kicking force (though not an overwhelming amount) is purposeful. As kids push past 13 years of age, they’ll be gaining strength every day and can really benefit from a fin that will send them farther, faster.
The Cressi Palau fins in this set are adjustable as well, so those growth spurts can be somewhat managed (at least to the best of your ability).
Ondo Snorkel Mask
Cressi’s Palau set comes with their Ondo snorkel mask, which is a bit of an upgrade from the other masks in kids snorkel sets on this list since it has a single tempered glass lens (that is, one larger piece of glass across the mask versus two separate pieces of glass/lenses) with extra-soft hypoallergenic transparent silicone.
All of this ultimately adds up to more of a durable, comfortable mask that will also have an increased view for your child thanks to the single lens and transparent silicone skirt.
Supernova Dry Snorkel
Cressi’s Supernova Dry Snorkel has become a cornerstone dry snorkel at this level of snorkel gear (that is to say mid-range, but it’s still a great snorkel overall) and it’s included in the Palau set.
Again, the Supernova is a bit of a step forward in dry snorkels from the true kids snorkel sets (it’s more of a snorkel-chic style and also utilizes a flexible bottom half to best fit wherever the mouth is — important since heads and features can grow so much around this time), but it uses the same awesome dry snorkel technology from the previous kids snorkel sets to keep water out of the snorkel. Plus, it also includes a purge valve like the recommendations for ages 9-12, which helps to collect and expel any water that does make it in with just a puff of air.
A Better Option if You Have a Mini-Adult Snorkeler: Buy Gear Separately
If you have a teenager who is more like a mini-adult in the water (rather than a kid who’s just learning) and is really enjoying themselves, it might be time to level up their snorkel gear.
Typically, to get your hands on dry snorkels that work well in demanding waters, masks that have higher-end visibility, or fins that use all sorts of crazy snorkel physics to really zoom around the water while saving energy, you need to buy the pieces separately. That’s just the way it is.
If this feels like the arena you’re starting to enter, check out some of our other guides on the best dry snorkels for teens (or adults), the top snorkel masks for beginner/intermediate/advanced snorkelers, and the best snorkel fins which will give you the best experience in the water.
If you don’t have the time to read several articles or just want to be more efficient, you can also take a look at my personal gear picks in all of these categories in Coral Nomad’s recommended snorkel gear section.
A kids snorkel set will push you (and your kid) a long way forward toward snorkeling and line up the necessities needed for them to join you in the water, which is awesome!
But, depending on your child’s snorkeling level, there might be another item or two to consider (like snorkeling flotation) to make sure that everyone has a safe and fun day, along with some common sense items like sun protection (sunscreen, long-sleeve rashguards, etc.)
Once you decide on which kids snorkel set is best for you, I would recommend checking out our full guide on snorkel gear for kids for success beyond your kids snorkel set.
First, you can find more information about the main recommended gear from this article at their Amazon links below:
Best Kids Snorkel Sets
- Best kids snorkel set for ages 4-8: Mares Sea Pals
- Another good kids snorkel set for ages 4-8: Cressi “The Rocks” Junior (S/M)
- Best kids snorkel set for ages 9-12: Cressi “The Rocks” Youth (L/XL)
- Best kids snorkel set for ages 13+: Cressi Palau Short Fin Set
Next, if you’re getting your child into snorkeling (again, awesome!), finding them the right gear, and looking at traveling to the ocean with them, check out some of our relevant articles below. Happy snorkeling!