There are plenty of different types of snorkel gear out there that can make your experience in the water better. But the one piece that might make the most immediate and noticeable difference for you are a good set of snorkel fins.
Snorkel fins give you the ability to go farther in the water faster by overcoming water drag with extra thrust [source], letting you see more each time in the ocean with less effort. Being able to make it easier and more efficient to get around is awesome, but good fins can also make snorkeling safer by helping you to conserve more energy [source] and have more power when you encounter currents in the water.
There’s a big, big difference between regular old rubber fins that most of us have probably used at some point in our lives, and the best snorkel fins available in 2023, though.
Technology has come a long way from those blocky, heavy fins of old, and the science of the new materials and form factors in the best snorkel fins today are a huge improvement.
There are tons of snorkel fins out there, and even more options to consider. Foot pocket or open heel? Rubber, plastic or monprene? Split-fin, hinged or fixed? Length, width and weight? It can seem like a lot.
I’ll help you narrow it down with everything that I’ve learned over the years.
I always start with how well a set of fins actually performs in the water. From there, I’ll take into account their price and things like material and construction to ultimately balance every set of fins’ benefits until I find the one that I feel performs the best in the water at the most reasonable price but which will also last a long time. That’s my recipe for the best fins for snorkeling.
Below are my picks for the best snorkel fins for beginners, intermediate/advanced snorkelers, and snorkelers who do a lot of travel.
The best snorkel fins for beginners (or people who only snorkel occasionally — maybe once or twice a year) likely will have price as a primary point of consideration. That makes sense. But, at the same time, we still don’t want to compromise very much on performance.
Beginners should still have a modern snorkel fin that works to save more energy and provide more power in the water as a matter of helping to improve snorkeling ability as they progress, and also add safety to each outing.
I really like and recommend the Mares Avanti Superchannel fins for beginners or occasional snorkelers for several reasons.
First, they’re very much priced toward the less-expensive end of the spectrum for good snorkel fins, which is helpful if you’re just getting started or aren’t yet in the water a lot.
Next, while a lot of beginner snorkel fins are just regular, flat, boring rubber fins that just give you a larger surface to push against the water to gain extra thrust without anything extra to save energy or make your kicking more efficient, the Avanti Superchannels don’t fall into that lame category.
Mares’ Avanti Superchannel snorkel fins use a three-channel “superchannel” fin blade which allows water to more easily move along the fin rather than against it to escape after you’ve paddled off of it, which greatly increases the efficiency of the snorkel fins and ultimately saves you energy. That’s safer, and just more fun.
Lastly, Mares is a solid and respected snorkel gear manufacturer that has been around for a long time and who makes good stuff that lasts, so while I would be paying less for a pair of the Avanti Superchannels than more advanced options, I can still know that they’re going to last me a good long while.
Mares makes these fins in an Avanti Superchannel Full Foot version (on Amazon) which has a fixed foot pocket that you slide your foot into, or an Avanti Superchannel Open Heel version (on Amazon) that uses a heel strap to hold your foot in the fin.
Aside from if you just have a preference between whether full foot or open heel is the best snorkel fins set-up for you, I always say go with the full-foot version if you don’t need size flexibility. I find the full-foot pockets to be more comfortable, and they’re cheaper than the open heel versions.
If you need size flexibility (maybe it’s for a growing teenager or you want to be able to share the fins with others), the open-heel version is the way to go. It’s a little more expensive (not too much, though), and you will also want to pick up a pair of neoprene boots like the Mares 2mm Neoprene Warm Water Boots (Amazon) to wear inside the fins to make the strap comfortable and keep it from rubbing on your skin.
With the best snorkel fins for more intermediate or advanced snorkelers (or just those that snorkel regularly), you’re ultimately going to be looking to squeeze more performance out of your fins to help you during longer sessions in the water or with more advanced snorkeling like diving underwater or swimming in more advanced conditions.
The two biggest upgrade options for the best snorkel fin performance are “split fins” or those that use a hinged design, and I do really like both.
Split-fin designs, which separate the force of your kicks into low- and high-pressure sides of the fin and which greatly increase efficiency [source], seem to have somewhat fallen out of favor with manufacturers in recent years and the options are more limited and less appealing now, save for the Atomic Aquatics Smoke on the Water fins (on Amazon) which are widely regarded as the best snorkel fins you can buy if you don’t mind paying $200+.
Snorkel fins that use a hinged design can also work wonders. This type of snorkel fin pivots in the middle of the fin blade to allow the largest part of the blade to always be angled at the ideal position relative to where it will produce the best thrust against the water. This also greatly increases efficiency (and decreases snorkeler fatigue), and hinged snorkel fins have been rapidly gaining in popularity as some of the best fins for snorkeling.
My favorite hinged snorkel fins and my recommendation for the best snorkel fins for intermediate and advanced snorkelers (or for those who just snorkel more regularly) are the SCUBAPRO Seawing Nova fins.
The Seawing Novas provide probably the best price-to-performance value of any snorkel fins that I’ve tried. You’ll find them pretty well average-priced as far as the spectrum of good snorkel fins goes, and you can definitely notice how much longer you can snorkel or how much easier it is to blast through choppy conditions and dive underwater. I’ve found a material difference between the hinged design of the Seawing Novas over regular snorkel fins (even many with channel designs).
I also really like that these fins are made from monprene, which is a fancy composite elastomer that SCUBAPRO says is virtually indestructible. Monprene is crazy light and tough, and that’s been huge for me since I don’t like having to regularly buy new gear once I find something that I like. Also, one added benefit of monprene snorkel fins is that they’ll float, so you don’t need to worry about dropping a fin while climbing up a boat ladder anymore.
And, also like my recommendation for beginners, I say go with the full-foot version for comfort and to save a few bucks unless you need the sizing flexibility or have a strong preference for open-heel fins. In the case of the Seawing Nova, the open-heel version is much more expensive than the full-foot version, and you’d also want to pick up a neoprene boot like the Mares Classic 3mm Boot (Amazon) to wear with the open heel, but it may be worth it for you if that’s just what you need.
Snorkeling is one of my favorite parts of any vacation, so I’m always on the look-out for the best snorkel gear for travel.
When I’m determining the best snorkel fins for travel, I first think about my luggage. If I’m going on a longer trip where I’ll be checking a bag (larger than a carry-on), I typically just bring my normal fins. Most average-sized snorkel fins should fit fine in luggage that needs to be checked, they only take up a couple of layers of clothes’ worth of room (though I do keep an eye on my overall bag weight), and I don’t want to sacrifice any of the awesome performance of my normal go-to fins if I don’t have to.
If I’m only bringing a carry-on bag, then I have to change gears and go with snorkel fins that are specifically made to be best for travel (that is, they’re a bit smaller) since regular fins are usually pretty tough — if not impossible — to fit into carry-on luggage.
If I’m changing over to a travel snorkel fin for a trip, I know that I’m going to sacrifice a bit of performance and that I should be more selective for favorable conditions when I’m actually in the water. But, I want to limit that sacrifice much as I can, and the best travel snorkel fins squeeze as much performance as possible out of a smaller form factor.
The SCUBAPRO GO snorkel fins are a good compromise when my luggage size is limited. While they do have a smaller overall form factor, they’re really tough and are actually made from monprene like more high-end regular snorkel fins.
These fins also perform quite well for their size, with a pre-angled blade (which sort of mimics the flexes of hinged designs outlined above) and a central panel that works very similarly to superchannel models to guide water away. This unique mix make these the best travel snorkel fins, in my opinion.
SCUBAPRO has two different GO models, the GO Travel (on Amazon) and the GO Sport (on Amazon). The Travel version is the less expensive of the two and doesn’t need a neoprene boot, while the Sport is a bit more expensive and should be used with a boot like the Cressi Minorca Neoprene Anti-Slip (Amazon), but it definitely delivers more performance with a slightly altered design that affords for more thrust and increased water channeling.
I’ve had good experiences with both the SCUBAPRO GO Travel and the SCUBAPRO GO Sport. You do for sure notice an increase in performance and efficiency while in the water (and being less tired when you get out) with the Sport, but since it’s more expensive, which of the two are the best snorkel fins for your travels is really going to be up to your budget and desire for performance.
The GO travel snorkel fins also make for a great gift (they’re easier to wrap than other fins!) if you happen to know another snorkeler who travels light but is often stuck with lower-end rental fins, and they’ve even made our list of the best gifts for snorkelers.
The Deep Dive
Not only do we have the opportunity to immediately up our snorkeling game and to be able to see more in the water by picking the best snorkel fins for our goals, we also get the benefits of added safety and confidence when using something that gives us more power and speed. That’s excellent news.
The options for the best fins for snorkeling out there in 2023 can be a bit overwhelming, and where different fins fall on the spectrum in terms of price, performance and durability differs for each skill level. But, after having read this guide, you should be equipped with the knowledge to pick an excellent snorkel fin for you, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced snorkeler, or someone who needs to travel with compact gear.
Also, if you end up ordering any of the best snorkel fins or neoprene boots mentioned in this guide on Amazon, they will usually qualify for free returns since fins and boots are wearable items (check the note that’s typically next to the price to confirm), so you can easily return something that doesn’t fit and order the right size. Note that while snorkel fins and boots are generally unisex, the sizes listed are usually in men’s numbers if you’re in the U.S., so you may need to add 1.5 sizes to the listed men’s size to get the equivalent women’s size.
Find more about the recommended best snorkel fins (and boots) from this article on Amazon:
- Mares Avanti Superchannel Full Foot and Mares Avanti Superchannel Open Heel (for beginners or occasional snorkelers)
- SCUBAPRO Seawing Nova Full Foot and SCUBAPRO Seawing Nova Open Heel (for intermediate, advanced or regular snorkelers)
- SCUBAPRO GO Travel and SCUBAPRO GO Sport (for traveling snorkelers whose luggage is tight)
- Mares 2mm Neoprene Warm Water Boots, Mares Classic 3mm Boot and Cressi Minorca Neoprene Anti-Slip (neoprene boot options for open-heel fins)
Also, make sure that the rest of your snorkel gear is up to date through our other guides below: