Snorkeling is one of my favorite things on the planet and there really is little else like it.
There’s so much that I love about the sport, but one aspect especially is that the gear fully required to explore the undersea world through snorkeling is very minimal and usually plenty affordable. However, beyond the basics (i.e., a mask and snorkel) there is a lot of gear that a snorkeler could (and would love to) buy, but don’t always for any number of reasons.
So, given that there’s a ton of cool snorkel gear out there that is on the less-expensive side as far as ocean sports go, that makes snorkeling perfect for gift-giving, whether for the holidays, birthdays, or for days that end in y (just-because gifts) — it’s all good.
But, with so much gear available for snorkeling, it may be tough to know where to start (especially if you’re not yet a snorkeler yourself). Plus, so many of the guides on the internet about the best gifts for snorkelers are full of extra junk just to fill an article. I’m not big on that.
I typically snorkel multiple times each week, so over the years I’ve gotten a really good handle on what’s actually useful and what isn’t, which I’m happy to pass on to you so you can make snorkeling more fun, efficient, comfortable or memory-making for a snorkeler you care about.
Let’s get into it!
I’m going to assume that the snorkeler for whom you’re reading guides on the best gifts for snorkelers already has the basics covered in terms of a mask and snorkel. If not, check out our full guide on getting started with the best snorkel gear.
But if so, here are my top useful pieces of snorkel gear that make the best gifts for snorkelers:
Let’s start big!
Undoubtedly the best thing I’ve done for my snorkeling is to get an underwater camera like a GoPro, and it is definitely tops on my best gifts for snorkelers list.
It’s just so much fun being able to record all of the incredible things I’m experiencing underwater and then keep them for my own memories, look at them with family and friends, share them on social media, print photos from them, or anything else I might want to do (like create my own nature documentary? 🤔)
And, an action camera like a GoPro is a really good middle ground as far as being able to record and relive your snorkeling escapades go. There are some cheaper options that are similarly-sized, but don’t have near the image quality or useful accessories as a GoPro. There are also professional set-ups that get amazing quality, but are eye-wateringly expensive as well as bulky, complicated and cumbersome. A GoPro is a good middle-priced option that gets great quality underwater photos and videos, especially for its price.
The best option for a GoPro for snorkeling is the GoPro Hero11 Black [Amazon] (you can also read our full review on the GoPro Hero11 Black, if you like). It’s very affordable as far as underwater cameras go, gets great results, and is highly easy to use.
The camera itself is great, but there are also a couple of other odds and ends that should go with a new GoPro for snorkeling such as a floating handgrip so a dropped camera doesn’t sink to the bottom of the sea, so also take a look at our guide on GoPro costs along with the necessary extras for snorkeling.
You may also be interested in our rundown on the best GoPro underwater accessories for more gift ideas if you have someone that would be super enthusiastic about snorkeling with a GoPro.
Basic snorkel gear (a mask and snorkel) in and of itself isn’t tough to carry, but when you start to add in GoPros, towels, water bottles, fins, sunscreen, and plenty else, you need a plan.
And, since most of this gear is expected to get wet (and probably sandy), a regular backpack or bag doesn’t work very well (unless you like soaked and sandy bags).
So, one of the immediately-useful best gifts for snorkelers is a gear bag meant especially for snorkel gear.
These bags, when designed well, use a blend of water-resistant material with drainage holes (so the dripping water has somewhere to go) along with tough mesh (so the wet snorkel gear has the ability to air dry) while being designed strong enough to hold up to snorkel gear being shoved in (and pulled out) over and over, tossed around a boat, etc.
My favorite snorkel gear bags that meet these criteria come from Stahlsac, and which one would make a better gift for your snorkeler depends on the amount of gear they’re typically carrying.
If they’re often toting gear for 3-4 people (perhaps for a family), the Stahlsac Panama (Amazon) is your best bet since its capacity is larger and it has double backpack straps to make carrying the extra load comfortable along with extra pockets for the odds-and-ends that invariably come with having gear for this many people.
If, instead, they typically carry gear for 1-2 people (solo or a couple), the Stahlsac BVI (Amazon) is your go-to. It’s a much more sensible size for this number of people (it does lack the extra pockets and double strap, but their absence isn’t noticeable for this amount of gear) while saving you some money.
There is just nothing worse than a foggy snorkel mask when you’re trying to take in the ocean seascape and its marine life, so we want to do everything we can to avoid it. That’s why something which goes a long way toward preventing mask fog is definitely useful here on this list for the best gifts for snorkelers.
There are a bunch of ways that we can prep our mask beforehand to minimize the chance of mask fog (check out our guide on how to keep a snorkel mask from fogging up). They’re easy and typically don’t require anything special other than what you may already have around the house.
But, it’s also really easy to forget to do that ahead of time (I’ve certainly been guilty of that on occasion), so it’s helpful to have an option to defog your mask on the beach or boat once you’re already at your destination.
Enter Stream2Sea’s reef friendly snorkel mask defogger (Amazon). Just spray a light coating on the inside of the mask lens (no need to do the outside), let it sit for a minute, and then gently rinse it off with some ocean water. Easy and effective.
I’m also big into Stream2Sea’s defog option over many others because it’s specifically reef-safe, which is crucially important in the age of declining coral reef health.
In my opinion, regular beach towels are only really suited for sitting at the beach. When it comes to actually drying off, you need something else.
Instead of a beach towel, I heavily prefer something specially made to be super absorbent which I can use, ring out, and immediately reuse, and the PackTowl Microfiber Towels (Amazon) work extremely well to help you dry off a lot faster (which is important for comfort in general, but especially so if it’s breezy and you happen to get chilly easily), making them an easy pick for one of the best gifts for snorkelers. Simple.
I personally prefer the 10×14″ size because it takes up the least amount of space and yet still manages to suck up a ton of water, but they also have several larger sizes (up to beach towel size, which is cool) based on your preference which come in various colors and designs.
One of the slightly-annoying questions which needs an answer while you’re snorkeling is what to do with the stuff that isn’t supposed to get wet while you’re in the water (phone, wallet, keys, etc.)
One option is just to buy a waterproof pouch that zips at the top to keep your important items dry, and it’s a popular pick on other lists for the best gifts for snorkelers. But to me, something like that falls short. Why? Because those pouches don’t float well, so if the items were to somehow end up getting knocked in the water, everything would sink to the ocean floor.
Instead, I prefer going with a fully-waterproof dry bag, and my favorite is the Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag (Amazon). I have one sitting not far from me right now, in fact.
What’s better about dry bags for me is twofold. One, when you put your items in your dry bag and seal it off by rolling down the top and clipping it in place, it traps air within the bag which means that, should it enter the water, it will float and can be retrieved. And, two, if you’re snorkeling from the beach and really don’t want to leave your wallet, etc. in the sand while you’re in the water, you can actually throw on the chest strap and tow the bag behind you while you snorkel, keeping everything safe from any sticky fingers on the beach.
To me, dry bags are the way to go for stowing non-snorkel gear and are deserving of a “best gifts for snorkelers” designation for that reason.
Among gear that isn’t officially required to snorkel but makes the experience a ton better (and even safer) are snorkel fins, and they’re for sure one of the best gifts for snorkelers out there. Especially when they’re oriented for travel.
Often, when you take a snorkel tour while traveling, the tour guide will provide you with snorkel fins (or you can also rent them at dive shops nearby). But, almost always these fins will be super basic. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but there is so much cool technology with snorkel fins now that it’s kind of like driving an old junker of a vehicle instead of a new sportscar. The junker will get you from A to B, but the sports car will get you there faster, with better handling, and with a better overall experience.
One thing that you do need to consider about snorkel fins when gifting them to someone who likes to snorkel while traveling, though, is their size. Some fins are super, super long and would never fit in a regular suitcase. Instead, we want to look at excellent snorkel fins which will fit in typical luggage.
My overall pick for the best snorkel fins (that aren’t all the way at the peak of the price spectrum, anyway — some fins can be $300) are the ScubaPro Seawing Nova snorkel fins (Amazon), and they’re what I use when I travel.
What’s cool about the Seawing Nova fins is that the foot part of the fin is connected to the paddle part of the fin with a hinge that acts like a bit of a spring, so when you kick through the water the paddle gets “spung” extra hard behind you, propelling you faster through the water while saving energy. Plus, they’re well made with excellent material (which floats!) and even fit diagonally in a standard-sized suitcase.
(For more guidance on this, you can read our article on the best snorkel fins.)
If your gift-intended snorkeler prefers to pack lighter (perhaps with a carry-on), I really like the ScubaPro GO Travel snorkel fins (Amazon). They won’t necessarily get you as much thrust as the Seawing Nova from above (that’s not really possible with a smaller fin), but their loss in performance is actually impressively small given their smaller size which is meant to be able to fit in a carry-on suitcase.
(For more on travel snorkel gear, feel free to check out our guide on the best snorkel gear for travel.)
Everyone I know who has really committed to snorkeling also deeply wants to do what they can do to help preserve the ocean, its coral and marine life. The ocean is definitely struggling in places with warmer water temperatures and greater concentrations of chemicals ending up in the sea.
One thing that not every snorkeler knows, though, is that several of the compounds in traditional sunscreens are potentially hazardous for our coral reefs and partially responsible for their recent declines.
So, it’s more important than ever to make sure that any sunscreen used (still if only near the water since sunscreen can easily make its way into the ocean eventually, even if you never actually go in yourself) is biodegradable and reef safe. Reef-safe sunscreen is worthy as one of the best gifts for snorkelers and the ocean alike.
Stream2Sea, the same company from the reef-safe mask defogger above, also has a gift package known as the Stream2Sea Conscious Explorer Kit (Amazon) which not only has excellent reef-safe sunscreen, but several other reef-safe items as well (body wash and shampoo, conditioner, sting relief gel [in case of any overly-friendly jellyfish], etc.) that makes for a great snorkeler gift.
Reef-safe sunscreen is one small thing we can do for the ocean to keep it as healthy as possible so that we can enjoy it as long as possible.
(You can also learn more about biodegradable and reef-safe sunscreen at our overview of biodegradable sunscreen which is also reef safe.)
If you know a snorkeler who’s a little bit cavalier with their phone around water, a waterproof phone case might be one of the best gifts for snorkelers which they didn’t even know that they needed.
Most higher-end phones are water resistant nowadays, but it’s still not a great idea to get them too wet or submerge them for any real length of time. It’s just too risky given how expensive phones can be.
Instead, pick up a waterproof phone case. Not only are the good ones rated for serious water contact and submersion, but if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even take them snorkeling (though if you do, you should also pick up a float to attach to it like the Luxebelle waterproof float [Amazon] or a wrist strap like the Vexmott adjustable wrist straps [Amazon] to keep the phone from sinking should grip be lost).
If your snorkeler is an iPhone user, I’m big on the waterproof cases from Catalyst. They have cases for the newest class of iPhones (like waterproof cases for the iPhone 14 models, the previous iPhone 13s, each of the iPhone 12 versions, etc., all on Amazon), but also any iPhone model since the iPhone 5 at their Amazon store).
If your snorkeler is an Android user, it gets a little more complicated since there are so many more types of Android phones. Your best bet is to visit the Amazon phone case section and search for the phone model you need + “waterproof case” (e.g., “Samsung Galaxy S23 waterproof case”) and find one that has favorable reviews from the people who have used it.
You may also want to read more with our article on snorkeling with a phone (what to do, what to not do, etc.) if you’re looking for more detailed info.
If the person for whom you’re researching the best gifts for snorkelers happens to have a beard or mustache, snorkeling can actually be a bit of a pain for them.
One of the core tenets of snorkeling is to keep water out of your gear — your snorkel mask specifically — and a beard or mustache can mess with the seal on the mask just enough to allow water to leak in while swimming. I’ve been there and it’s no fun.
To correct this, you can buy them a silicone mask sealant like the Trident snorkel mask sealer (Amazon) which goes on the beard or mustache where it contacts the snorkel mask and helps to create a much better seal for snorkeling. Plus, it’s food safe (so no worries if it get in the mouth or nose somehow) as well as reef safe.
Worth every penny!
I’ve never really been a watch guy in my life until the last couple of years, but I tried out a smartwatch on a whim and discovered that I really dig tracking my workouts and activities, snorkeling included. It helps me to develop a bigger picture of my activity levels and general health. Plus, I can actually keep track of the time in the water. 😅
If you have a snorkeler in your life who enjoys technology and fitness, a smartwatch for snorkeling might be a great snorkeling gift for him or her.
Any smartwatch will ultimately work in tandem with a phone, so they need to be of the same “type” (i.e., iPhone or Android).
If the snorkeler in question has an iPhone, the undisputed best smartwatch for snorkeling in that case is the Apple Watch Series 8 (Amazon).
Or, if they have an Android phone, I’m big on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 (Amazon). Both are rated as IP68 water resistant (which means that they’re rated for being in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes) and do a great job at tracking snorkeling workouts, including GPS maps of your path (which I think is cool).
If your snorkeler doesn’t need all of the non-fitness extras that a full smartwatch like the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch provide (like weather tracking, text messaging, maps, music connection to wireless headphones, and countless others), or you just need to save a little bit of money, check out the Fitbit Charge 5 (Amazon). It’s a fantastic fitness tracker (including for snorkeling), but it doesn’t have all of the extra bells and whistles of a full-on smartwatch, which may make more sense depending on your situation.
For more information on snorkeling with smartwatches as well as which models you can swim with, we also have a guide on snorkeling with smartwatches (Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy watch, etc.)
I’m big on giving experiences as gifts, and I’ve had tons of incredible experiences on snorkel tours which I’ll remember for the rest of my life, so I could think of no better option to round out the best gifts for snorkelers than a snorkel tour for the bucket list.
In a lot of places it’s totally possible to have a great time snorkeling while going at it independently, but nothing beats the access (snorkel guides have the boats!) and local knowledge that you can find on a snorkel tour. I try to take at least one snorkel tour on every trip I take to a new beach destination.
My favorite place to find snorkel tours is on Viator. I just search my destination and then use the menu to find the right category for snorkel tours, then see which ones appeal to me. I always check out reviews (they’ll tell you a lot about the experience, crew, etc.) and can then easily book from there.
Plus, Viator has a ton of other tours all around the world (ziplining, hiking, food tours, art — pretty much anything you can think of), so you aren’t even necessarily limited to snorkeling (but try to sneak a snorkeling tour in for me, will you?)
First, you can check out more on the best gifts for snorkelers from this article at their Amazon links below:
The Best Gifts for Snorkelers
- Best underwater action camera: GoPro Hero11 Black
- Best snorkel gear bag for 3-4 people: Stahlsac Panama
- Best snorkel gear bag for 1-2 people: Stahlsac BVI
- Best snorkel mask defogger: Stream2Sea Mask Defogger
- Best super-absorbent towel: PackTowl
- Best dry bag for snorkeling: Earth Pak Dry Bag
- Best snorkel fins for regular suitcases: ScubaPro Seawing Nova
- Best snorkel fins for carry-ons: ScubaPro GO Travel
- Best reef-safe sunscreen kit: Stream2Sea Conscious Explorer
- Best waterproof case for iPhones: Catalyst Waterproof Total Protection
- Best mask sealant for beards and mustaches: Trident Snorkel Mask Sealer
- Best smartwatches for snorkeling: Apple Watch Series 8 or Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
- Best place to book bucket list snorkel tours: Viator
Next, if you’re hunting for more info on snorkel gear (including many of the best gifts for snorkelers here), the below are some of our most popular guides: