Snorkeling is a great way to explore the almost alien world underwater. There are literally hundreds of destinations across the globe where snorkeling is a must. If you’re not an avid snorkeler and will do it just once a year, then renting gear won’t be such a big deal.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Travel Snorkel Fins
However, if you plan on going on snorkeling expeditions or simply don’t want to hassle yourself with finding the right equipment, then it’s much better to have your own snorkeling equipment every time you travel. One great investment is buying your own snorkel fins.
US Divers Proflex II Snorkel Fins
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US Divers Trek Travel Fin
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Cressi Palau Short Snorkeling Swim Fins
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BEST FOR SCUBA
Atomic Aquatics High Performance Full Foot Split Fin
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BEST FOR ADVANCED SNORKELERS
TUSA SF-15 X-Pert Zoom Z3 Split Fin
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Seavenger Swim Fins
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For advanced snorkelers looking for the best full-foot fins, look no further than the US Divers Proflex II Snorkel Fins.
It has a wide range of sizes that is sure to accommodate almost all foot types and shapes. The dual-composite material also makes the fins sturdy yet flexible, allowing for maximum thrust. There are also vents on the fin blades, which make each kick more efficient and powerful. It’s also a very good set of fins for SCUBA diving, so if you happen to do both, then you’ll be getting a lot out of this purchase. For all its features and durability, it’s also an affordable pair to choose.
It’s a long fin that’s a bit longer then regular fins. This length might be a bit of a challenge for air travel if you don’t have a bag where the fins will fit. However, for road trips or closer destinations, these fins won’t be a drag.
If packing light is your goal, then the US Divers Trek Travel Fin will fit the bill.
These short fins are short enough to fit into your suitcase or your carry-on. It’s built similarly as the Proflex II, which includes the dual-composite material and vents in the paddle. It obviously won’t give you the thrust and power of long fins, but it will give you more movement than snorkeling barefoot.
Since it’s an open-heel fin, it can also accommodate a wide range of foot sizes and shapes. The foot pocket is also very soft and flexible to minimize chafing no matter how long you are in the water.
While convenient for travel, the length of this fin is much shorter than regular short fins. It’s not going to give you the propulsion you’ll desire and you’ll also need more kicks, so you might tire out faster after a long day of snorkeling.
The Cressi Palau Short Snorkeling Swim Fins are light and compact and a great pair for travel anywhere.
The short fins are portable but still produces a lot of power. The fin starts right where the foot pocket ends, creating a larger surface area. A single kick produces a bit more power than other regular short fins.
The sizes run from extra small to extra large. With its open-heel design, it’s likely to fit different foot sizes and shapes by adjusting the straps. The foot pocket is also soft and comfortable, but the straps are a bit rigid. Prolonged use will make this fin feel uncomfortable so it’s advisable to wear swim socks with these fins.
Here’s a long fin that won’t be awkward to carry. The Atomic Aquatics is light and portable with the right length to be great for travel without sacrificing power.
The full foot design on these fins molds around the feet to keep them from slipping. The rubber is soft and flexible and remains comfortable over a long period of time.
The split fin is designed to imitate the precision of an airplane wing. This results in powerful thrust and lift with significantly less effort. The grooves on the paddle allows water to move quickly through the paddle to reduce drag for less strain on your legs.
It’s a little bit on the expensive end of snorkeling fins, but if you’re a serious snorkeler, then it’s worth the investment. It’s great to use as SCUBA fins as well, and the well-built fins can last a very long time while retaining its form.
Of course, as travel fins these will be a bit bulky, but they are really meant for the snorkeller or diver who just can’t leave their own fins at home.
The TUSA SF-15 X-Pert Zoom Z3 Split Fin is a for the serious traveler with serious ambitions for snorkeling.
These fins are technically made for diving, but its portability, design, and thrust are great for snorkeling through different water and weather conditions.
There are 3 materials incorporated in this patented design with the optimal blade length and enhanced propeller-fin technology for maximum thrust. The “split” down the fin is a bit wider than usual for better efficiency while the reinforced blade rails keep the fins steady and stable for better control. This also accommodates different kick styles.
The best feature of this fin is the transfer of power from the foot to the fin, moving you through water smoothly and quickly with very minimal effort. The combined features of the optimized blade scoops and the 27-degree angled fin design allows 100% of the energy used during a kick is direct towards the propulsion of the swimmer. Small kicks go a long way and you can enjoy more snorkeling trips during your travel.
The quick release straps make this easy to put on and take off. It’s great for snorkeling through strong currents or in open water. However, these fins are heavier than plain snorkel fins so plan your luggage accordingly. Because of the weight, boots are also required so the back strap does not chafe against your foot.
The Seavenger Swim Fins are incredibly light and nicely compact. It’s an excellent pair of fins to bring on any travel. With sizes ranging from XXS – XL, it’s also an ideal pair for kids.
It’s another pair that’s on the relatively shorter side of short snorkel fins. That means a little less power for each thrust. However, the blades are flexible with a decent surface area, which helps a bit with power. The blades also have vent to compensate for the short blades in terms of power.
While it’s not the best for propulsion, this is an excellent pair for beginners or for children. It’s also great for crowded spots or for casual snorkelers who simply wish to relax during their travels.
The foot pocket is soft and comfortable even without swim socks or booties. Because of this, coupled with relatively short blades, it’s also possible to walk short distances without taking the fins off.
Renting fins sound convenient because you don’t have to bring your own pair around. However, sizing is important for snorkel fins and this is the biggest drawback when you rent. You can never be sure they have your size. Rental stores only carry the most common sizes and have very limited numbers. If they run out, it’s not like you can go up or down a size because they either won’t fit or they will fall off.
This means that if they don’t have your size, then you won’t have any choice other than trying to kick your way around with your own two feet. Buying your own snorkel fins means knowing you’ll always have the right size and the most comfortable fit for a full day of snorkelling.
Rental equipment is also not always in good shape. Fins aren’t exactly a life or death situation, so rental stores will often carry the cheapest ones they can find.
Casual snorkelers also aren’t very careful with rental equipment, so there’s no reason for these stores to carry the best fins. While cheap fins can help, they don’t give you the best propulsion in the water and you’ll end up exerting more effort than you should. Which means you’ll get tired faster and enjoy your snorkelling far less.
Full foot fins are marginally better for travel because there are no dangling parts and you won’t need boots to wear them. They’re great for snorkeling in warmer weather because there are no extra layers and no insulation. However, you can’t adjust the size or the fit of the fins.
The open-heeled fins are the ones with a buckled strap at the back of your foot. While it’s possible to wear these without booties, they tend to scrape the back of the foot which becomes uncomfortable or downright painful if you’ll be snorkeling for long periods of time. However, they’re a better fit especially for those in between sizes. The booties also help protect your feet when walking on the beach.
There are two types of fin blades. The paddle fin is what you’ll typically see, which is one piece of blade on each fin. They’re stiff and unflexible, which gives you a quicker thrust and more control. This is great if you’re snorkeling through dense corals and you need to move slowly.
Split-blade fins look more like fish tails wherein water passes through at the center. Less effort is required if you want more propulsion. This is great if you plan on long days of snorkeling or covering a wide area.
Fins come in either short or long versions. Short fins are more ideal for beginners because they’re easier to maneuver and they require less strength to paddle. It’s also much safer to use in crowded snorkeling sites because there is less chance to accidentally kick someone behind you.
Long fins are great for propulsion due to their longer strokes. It may feel harder to kick, but each kick moves you farther and more efficiently than shorter fins. Long fins are more cumbersome to bring with you, but for advanced snorkelers visiting many snorkelling sites, long fins let you cover more water for less effort.
Most of the time, fin sizes correlate to your shoe size. However, they’re not made to be as snug as a regular shoe and can therefore accommodate different shoe sizes. It’s difficult to have a specific guideline because fin sizes vary. The most important part is that you feel comfortable when trying them on. Too snug and you’ll end up with blisters. Too loose and you might end up using your fin.
Another consideration is wearing swim socks or booties. When snorkeling for long periods of time, you really won’t be able to avoid chafing against your feet. The vulnerable parts are the back of the foot, the ankle as well as toes if your fin is a closed-toe version. Swim socks or booties are also a good solution for fins that are a little too big.
There are several factors to consider in finding the best fin. Once you’ve gotten your size and preference down, different fins are made for different purposes.
Advanced snorkelers headed to exotic destinations with unpredictable conditions should opt for the TUSA SF-15 X-Pert Zoom Z3 Open Heel Split Fin with Angled Blade. These fins are made to power through all kinds of water conditions and current without tiring out the user.
For a pair of fins you can bring anywhere, go for the Cressi Palau Short Snorkeling Swim Fins. It’s light and compact. Though it’s a short fin, it’s long enough to create decent propulsion with adequate effort.
Overall, the Oceanic Vortex V-6 Full Foot Fins are a great choice for avid snorkelers who don’t need all the power but can swim in various snorkelling conditions. It’s a decent size even for air travel plus it provides decent power without the flash and bang of many hi-tech fins.
Ready to get your feet wet? Grab your own pair of travel snorkel fins on Amazon!