Snorkeling is one of the most interesting practices for those that love aquatic endeavors. It’s not as complicated as scuba diving, it doesn’t require any prior training or excessively expensive gear, and you can easily do it by yourself if you want to.
Although there are some small hazards in snorkeling, mostly it’s a harmless and fun habit. When snorkeling, you get to see the mysterious underwater habitat extremely easily and without complicated gear attached, or bubbles of oxygen floating around (as with scuba diving).
To help you up your enthusiasm and go snorkeling, we’ve decided to make a small list of the best snorkeling gear you would possibly want. Be warned though, although snorkeling is not as expensive a practice as scuba diving, it’s still pretty costly so you might want to start saving some money.
Best Snorkeling Gear
If you’re going to go snorkeling, there are a few things you will definitely need.
First and foremost, you need a mask. No matter how many times you’ve seen people in movies move through the water just like they would through air, remember, it’s not that simple. So don’t go snorkeling without a mask.
As bad as water in your eyes and nose can be, water in your mouth is far worse. When snorkeling, that is. Don’t fear, drinking water is safe. Obviously, the second thing you need is a snorkel. Some say snorkels are the main piece of gear you need while others argue that the mask is actually more important, as without a snorkel, you can still hold your breath until you reach the surface. Without a mask you may be blinded by the water and lose any sense of your surroundings.
Besides a mask and a snorkel, other pieces of gear are recommended, but not required. Things like a wetsuit, board shorts, and/or underwater camera may be optional, but some things that you are sure to want are the foot fins. Hey, without these, you’re just a fish out of water reversed! But if you wear fins, you can imagine yourself a pretty mermaid!
Best Snorkel Mask
As we’ve said above, without the mask, there is no snorkeling. Although opinions on the matter are divided, people do seem to agree with one thing: the best snorkel gear is that which is made out of silicon rubber. This does not necessarily mean that those made of regular rubber or of other materials are bad, yet the silicone ones make for a far more comfortable snorkeling experience.
Reviews around the internet seem to agree that the masks made by Tusa are the best choice for an affordable snorkel mask. Particular emphasis is placed on the Tusa M-31 Visio Tri-Ex. This one looks rather old-school, but its simplicity is also its forte. It’s just a basic silicon rubber version of the snorkeling mask your grandpa used to have, but don’t be deterred. And the price is perfect: only around $74.
If you’re looking for something expensive and fancy, of course the market has something for you. And it may just be more than you bargained for. The Ocean Reef G Divers IDM looks like something astronauts might use. Which seems fitting, as the scientific world agrees we know less about our oceans than about our solar system. The IDM is complete with a wireless communication system, a live-dive data recorder, and lights that illuminate your visor. The visor itself is very wide and offers a stunning view. It also has a built-in pressure system that regulates the air pressure inside the mask so that you feel perfectly comfortable, and the visor doesn’t ever get foggy. For all it’s supposed to be doing, it’s no wonder that the IDM costs just shy of a thousand dollars: $985.
Best Snorkel Gear
Snorkels are pretty diverse. Yet, obviously, when it comes to the gear that you breathe through, you don’t want to buy a faulty one. The lower-end models have the advantage of being cheap, but as cheap as these are, you may end up swallowing gulps of seawater. Remember that swallowing seawater is really, really bad for you.
Still, there are some pieces of snorkeling gear that are pretty great for a small price. Online reviewers point out the Atomic SV2 Flex Snorkel. It’s quite cheap for a snorkel, coming in at about $60. The top of the SV2 is specially designed so that you don’t get any water in your mouth. At all.
Now that we’ve decided which snorkel and mask to use, we can move on to other gear. If you want to run smoothly through the ocean, we recommend that you buy a pair of full foot split fins. Fins make you look like you belong in the water, rather than on land. We recommend the Oceanic Vortex V-6 fins, which cost around $68.
Other pieces of gear you may want are underwater cameras and/or board shorts. If you don’t feel like changing your clothing once you get out of the water, you can even go for a full-body suit, which can be quite useful if you want to go and eat somewhere where shirts are mandatory. It’s pretty much up to you what you pick, since most of those available will do. Just be sure to feel comfortable!
The Best Places to Snorkel in the World
Now that we’ve equipped you with all the possible things you may need, we’re going to show you the coolest of locations for the best snorkeling in the world experiences. This might seem too obvious, but the best snorkeling in the world can be done in Hawaii. Although there are many other amazing places in the world where you can go snorkeling, from the Bahamas to Balize, or from Jamaica to Honduras, none quite match the beauty of the Hawaiian Isles. Particularly, I’m speaking about one of the isles. Maui.
Maui is renowned for its beauty. For decades it’s been the preferred snorkeling spot for many tourists. And for the right reason: if you go there, you will find no less than 10 amazing snorkeling spots. That’s in addition to how beautiful the island itself is, with four forest reserves perfect for exploration.
The best snorkeling in Maui, however, is by far in a single place. Can you guess what it is? The Molokini Crater is one of the most sacred places in Hawaiian culture. Molokini is said to have been a very beautiful woman. Pele, the Hawaiians’ fire goddess got angry with her since they were both in love with the same man. Infuriated, Pele transformed Molokini into stone. That’s how the crater, which has a crescent shape, was born. At least that’s what mythology tells us.
Historically, however, the small atoll formed via repeated volcanic eruptions. You can see the beautiful islet here:
Besides being home to an incredibly complex and colorful reef, the waters around the crater house 250 species of fish. Turtles can also be seen pretty often. The number of coral species is 38 and there are 100 species of algae in the area. The algae contribute to the incredible clarity of the water by naturally filtering out the impurities. Although sharks are common in the area, it’s nothing to be scared of, as they are mostly whitetip reef sharks, which are harmless to humans.
The best part of Maui, as said previously, is that it has multiple locations perfect for snorkeling. The second best snorkeling place in the world is said to be Maui’s Turtle Town. As the name suggests, the area is home to the Green Hawaiian Sea Turtle. If the turtles aren’t excitement enough for you, you can always look for the impressive coral formations and diverse fish that are present there as well.
Throughout the Maui waters, one can see manta rays, black triggerfish, parrotfish, Moorish idols, raccoon butterflyfish, or even moray eels, or red pencil urchins. If that’s not enough for you, you can snorkel after Hawaii’s state fish, the Reef triggerfish, or as Hawaiians like to call it, the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Learning to spell that name alone should be exciting enough to remember.
Just as there are other fish in the sea, there are also other mysteries on the Hawaiian island. If you get bored of snorkeling at the Molokini Crater or in Turtle Town, you can always go to one of the other 8 locations perfect for this: the Coral Gardens, the Honolua Bay, the Five Caves, the Black Rock, the Napili Bay, the Kapalua Bay, Ulua Beach, or the Ahihi Kinau Reserve.
For more information on any of these locations, you can visit the official Maui website here.