What To Know About Snorkels And Fins For Snorkeling And Scuba Diving

Snorkels are “J” shaped tubes that are designed to allow you to breathe while resting on the surface without the need to lift your head each time you want to take a breath. With a snorkel, swimming on the surface is very easy in most situations. Ideally, a snorkel should have a gentle curve to it, with no sharp bends or obstructions inside the breathing tube. The snorkel should be a maximum of 17 inches in length and have an internal diameter of 1 inch or more. 

During the surface swimming, it is inevitable for small amounts of water to occasionally enter the top of the snorkel. To prevent this water from reaching your mouth, better snorkels are equipped with some type of valve mechanism to help drain water out of the snorkel before this happens. However if the snorkel is completely submerged it will fill up with water and this water must be cleared out of the snorkel before you can take another breath through it. 

Scuba diving is truly a thrilling experience that you don’t get to enjoy everyday so make sure that you make the best of the few opportunities that you do get to tap your potentials as an expert swimmer and snorkeling is sure to take things to a whole new level as there are numerous facets in the technique so make sure you choose the best snorkeling mask as a safety measure whenever you take the plunge.  

In the past, cheap snorkels were equipped with a ping-pong ball mechanism fitted to the top of the snorkel to prevent water from entering the snorkel if the diver went underwater. This type of mechanism never really worked and should not be used. Although there are modern snorkels that have more sophisticated valves that are designed to prevent water from entering the snorkel when you are submerged, these designs are not recommended since they typically make breathing more difficult. 

The snorkel should have a comfortable mouthpiece that does not irritate your mouth. It must rest comfortably against the side of your head. The snorkel must be attached to the mask with some type of “snorkel keeper” which is normally supplied with the snorkel when you buy. Some snorkel keepers are made from rubber while others are made from plastic. 

There are two main types of fins that are commonly used today; open heel adjustable fins and full foot fins. Both kinds are acceptable for snorkeling and diving. You may also hear people refer to fins as “flippers.” Either term is acceptable. 

Full foot fins of the most popular type of fins for snorkeling and skin diving in warmer waters. As their name implies, they usually cover the entire foot, except for an opening for the toes. They are usually light weight, relatively small, and inexpensive. They are a good choice for the casual diver. 

If you want to use full foot fins in colder waters you’ll need to wear a pair of neoprene booties to keep your feet warm. Booties are like neoprene socks or boots that not only provide warmth, but also help protect your feet from rocks and other sharp objects. You must purchase your booties when you purchase your fins in order to get them to correctly fit. Fins that fit with booties will usually not fit if you don’t wear the booties. Conversely, fins that fit without booties will usually fit if you try to wear booties with them. Booties are a nice accessory whether you dive in warm or cold water. Low top booties are available specifically for warm water diving, although high top booties can be worn in warm or cold water. 

One drawback to full foot fins is that when the foot pocket on the fin wears out hello the fins cannot be repaired and must be thrown away. This is one of the reasons that more serious divers tend to use adjustable heel strap fins which have a longer useful life. 

Open heel adjustable fins are designed with a removable strap which can be tightened or loosened to fit a wide range of foot sizes. These fins tend to be larger and heavier than full foot fins. This style of fins must usually be worn with a pair of booties to prevent blisters and chafing. 

With open heel adjustable fins, the strap can be replaced when it wears out and the fins can be used for many years. This style of fin is preferred by avid skin and scuba divers because they generally provide better propulsion through the water.