Picking out the best snorkel mask for you and your skill level is hugely important.
Not only does a snorkel mask serve an all-important purpose (keeping water out of your eyes), but it’s ultimately the most basic piece of snorkel gear that everything else builds upon. You can add a really great dry snorkel, rockin’ fins or be ready to capture a ton of awesome memories with a powerful action camera for snorkeling, but if you’re constantly battling a leaky or foggy mask and having a hard time seeing, it’s all for not.
So, a good snorkel mask is key to all of your other gear being useful, and it is essential for having a good time out on the water.
That’s why it’s really important to choose the best snorkel mask for you. Depending on whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced snorkeler, though, the best snorkel mask for someone else might not be the best snorkel mask for you.
I’ve learned a lot through trial and error in the water over the years (the error parts aren’t as fun in the middle of the ocean, but, hey, that’s how you learn sometimes), and I have ultimately gained an excellent understanding of what makes a snorkel mask good for different types of snorkelers.
So, let’s take a look at three different snorkel masks and why they’re the best snorkel mask for each skill level.
As a beginning snorkeler, your number one consideration is probably going to be price. Maybe you’re just trying out snorkeling for the first time, or maybe you aren’t able to snorkel but maybe once a year. Wanting to save money in those scenarios is definitely understandable, and we still want to find a quality mask so you don’t have to deal with the mask leaking, pieces breaking, etc.
The best snorkel masks for beginners are going to be relatively no-frills (this saves on the price), but should also be made well by a quality snorkel manufacturer that knows what they’re doing to produce a comfortable mask that travels well.
- Frameless design is really comfortable
- Tempered glass lens is a nice upgrade for beginners
- Full silicone skirt does well to prevent leaking
- Really inexpensive
The Not as Good
- Lacks certain more advanced features like a purge valve or double skirt (expected for this price point)
- Field of view is modest (also expected for this price point)
My pick for the best snorkel mask for beginners is the Cressi F1 Frameless snorkel mask (on Amazon) because it checks all of the boxes for what a good beginner mask should be.
One of the most important things when you’re just getting going with snorkeling and don’t necessarily know exactly what gear you need is finding a comfortable mask. You have enough to pay attention to while learning to snorkel, so you don’t want a mask that feels wrong or which may even leak as a result of a rigid or improper fit.
Cressi more or less takes those concerns right out of the equation with how they designed the F1. Instead of a traditional snorkel mask with a rigid frame surrounding the perimeter of the mask, the F1 uses a frameless design which means that pretty much everything but the lens area is made of soft silicone.
The frameless silicone does a handful of things that are really helpful for beginners. First, since you aren’t pushing up against a rigid frame, it’s very comfortable. Next, since the silicone is really flexible, it’s easy to get a good seal and fit against your face, which cuts way down on leaking while you’re in the water. And, since the majority of the mask is flexible, it squishes down a bit to make it easy to pack in a suitcase.
In general, the Cressi F1 is a very straightforward beginners mask, but it’s made well. The lens is even made of tempered glass, which is safer and more durable, instead of plastic (the common material in a lot of beginner masks). And, Cressi is a respected manufacturer that has been around for a long time, and they do pay attention to the quality of their products.
The F1 does lack some nice-to-have features found in more advanced snorkel masks like a purge valve (a calibrated valve in the mask that allows you to blow any leaking water out of the mask while still in the water) or a double silicone skirt (which increases the seal of the mask around the face). But, at this level, that’s to be expected.
Maybe the best part for beginners is the price: it’s downright cheap, typically priced at about $30. With everything that this mask gives you along with how easy it makes it on a beginner to throw it on and get into the water with confidence, I think that price makes the Cressi F1 (Amazon) a huge value, which is why it’s my pick as the best snorkel mask for beginners.
Once you start to snorkel more regularly (even just 2-3 times a year) or are doing more advanced types of snorkeling like diving underwater or open-water snorkeling, upgrading your snorkel mask is really going to be worthwhile. Ultimately, a better mask with more advanced components stands up to more demanding conditions much better while keeping you safer and having more fun.
In the best snorkel masks for intermediate snorkelers, you should start to expect higher-end construction and features, bigger fields of view, and other niceties. Prices do start to increase once you’re beyond beginner snorkel masks, but what you get in return is typically well worthwhile and very helpful for intermediate-level snorkeling.
- Really solid construction
- Double-silicone skirt is comfortable and seals great
- Excellent field of view while still keeping the mask low-volume
The Not as Good
- Lacking a purge valve found in advanced masks (somewhat expected)
- Noticeable price increase over beginner masks
My go-to for the best snorkel mask for intermediate snorkelers is the SCUBAPRO Solo (on Amazon) since it’s definitely leaps and bounds ahead of beginner masks while still keeping you below the advanced snorkel mask price ranges.
Probably my favorite thing about the Solo mask over your typical beginner’s snorkel mask is the incredible field of view. The huge unified tempered glass lens really does help you to see a lot more underwater. Yet, somehow even with how much bigger the lens is, SCUBAPRO was able to keep the overall design of the mask low-volume. That might not sound like a big deal, but you’ll appreciate it when relieving your snorkel mask pressure as you dive below water. Plus, it makes it easy to travel with, which is great.
The SCUBAPRO Solo also starts to add in some of the features that you begin to see in more advanced masks, like a double silicone skirt. That means there are two separate layers of silicone working to secure the mask seal with your face around the edges. I’ve found that the double skirt really does make a big difference in both comfort and water-tightness with this mask, both of which make intermediate snorkeling a lot better.
SCUBAPRO is also a great manufacturer of snorkel and scuba gear, and their stuff has always proven to be really tough. I haven’t noticed anything as far as seals drying out, silicone cracking, straps warping or anything else that you sometimes find with cheaper masks, so I expect it to keep lasting a long time.
One drawback of the Solo is that it is definitely a price increase over what you would pay for the best beginner snorkel mask from above, and is usually priced at about $110.
You could probably find other intermediate-level masks for maybe $30 cheaper or so, but with how durable SCUBAPRO gear is along with how comfortable this mask is on my face, plus just how huge the field of vision is (which is so key for me), I’ll gladly pay an extra few bucks and will continue to rank the SCUBAPRO Solo (Amazon) as the best snorkel mask for intermediates.
If you’re snorkeling regularly or just want everything that can make your time on the water the best it can possibly be, finding the best snorkel mask for advanced snorkelers will serve you well.
And, we don’t want to have to make much in the way of sacrifices here. The best snorkel masks — those with double skirts, multi-layered frames, highly-tuned purge valves, ultra-stable buckles and straps, specialized lens glass, etc. — are what we’re looking for.
- Multi-layered frame construction is super solid, while still being very lightweight
- Field of view is excellent
- Middle price point for advanced snorkel masks
- Buckles and straps don’t budge at all when they shouldn’t, yet are easy to adjust
- Looks awesome with a high comfort factor
- The purge valve is well calibrated and very useful
The Not as Good
- No UV glass for the lens (though not a deal-breaker for snorkeling)
The Atomic Venom Frameless snorkel mask (here on Amazon) is the type of mask that makes you feel warm and fuzzy deep inside if you love snorkeling, and it’s my pick for the best snorkel mask for advanced snorkelers.
It’s tough to narrow down what I like about the Venom (there’s a lot), but let’s focus on the most important aspects.
First, this might be the most solid-feeling snorkel mask that I’ve come across. In addition to some really strong tempered glass for the large lens (which has a superb field of view, especially when looking down which most masks compromise on), the frame is constructed with multiple layers which makes it really sturdy (in the best way) while still being incredibly light. It feels very space-age.
While kind of an afterthought with beginner or even some intermediate best snorkel masks, this mask has taught me now nice it is to have straps and buckles that lock into place really strongly and don’t budge no matter what. They’ve helped to all but eliminate leaks (along with the double-silicone skirt) since the mask really stays in place incredibly well while I’m motoring through the water. When it’s time for an adjustment, though, their mechanical buckle system is a breeze and way easier than trying to pull a ridged strap through a fixed buckle.
For those occasions where some water does dribble in (it happens to the best of us), the integrated purge valve is well calibrated and makes ejecting any mask water out of the bottom of the mask plenty easy. I’ve found it to be among the best snorkel mask purge valves that I’ve encountered.
With some masks, you have to really exhale hard through your nose to get the valve to activate which can unseat the mask and let in even more water. But, a moderate puff from my nostrils has been enough to clear the Venom of water for me. It’s a pleasure to not have to worry about stopping and manually draining my mask, especially when doing more advanced snorkeling where stopping could mean missing out on something epic (like with incredible whale sharks).
The Atomic Venom also looks really cool, which isn’t necessarily a checklist item, but it’s a nice perk.
One thing that the Venom doesn’t have which some other advanced snorkel masks do is specially-treated lens glass that filters out UV light and helps underwater colors to appear more true-to-life. That’s always nice to have, but it’s really a feature meant more for scuba diving since with snorkeling you aren’t usually at depths where significant color shift starts to become apparent to your eyes.
Plus, masks that do have treated UV glass are usually more expensive. The TUSA Paragon (Amazon) has it, and it’s an incredible mask, but it’s more money. I’d rather save some bucks if the main difference in features is something that wouldn’t often apply to me.
One more thing that makes the Atomic Venom (Amazon) my best snorkel mask for advanced snorkelers is that it’s price is pretty reasonable for being one of the very best snorkel masks out there. It’s price is roughly in the middle of the normal range for advanced snorkel masks, but it’s at or near the top in terms of quality for these type of masks, so the value is really strong.
The Deep Dive
Finding the best snorkel mask for you is really dang important since it helps to keep you comfortable, reduces leaking, lets you see more, adds safety every time that you snorkel, and just makes everything more fun.
But, what might be the best snorkel mask for others might not be the best snorkel mask for you depending on your skill level, goals, or how often that you snorkel. Reading this guide will help you figure out what kind of features you should be looking for in different levels of snorkel masks, and also point you in the right direction of the best snorkel masks at each level.
Lastly, one of the most important things in any snorkel mask is how well it fits you personally. Since they are wearable items, most snorkel masks ordered from Amazon qualify for free returns (look for the note next to the price on the product page). So, if you find that a certain mask doesn’t fit your face well, it’s easy to exchange it for something different.
Get more information on the snorkel masks mentioned in this guide on Amazon:
Check out more of our picks for the best snorkel gear along with helpful guides to find everything that you need below: