The right snorkeling fins are the difference between slicing through the water like a marlin or exhausting yourself between breaths. Snorkeling fins are available in the same styles as scuba fins, namely: full foot or adjustable foot pockets, and paddle or split blades. Here's a brief explainer of the different types of snorkeling fins:
Full foot snorkeling fins: no socks or dive booties needed. Great for warm-water snorkeling.
Adjustable snorkeling fins: wear with dive boots so the heel strap doesn't chafe. Fit a wider range of feet. If you're snorkeling off the beach or on rocky shores, you'll probably be wearing something to protect your feet anyway.
Split snorkeling fins: high propulsion and less resistance with each kick. Great for those with knee problems.
Paddle-type snorkeling fins: require more muscle to get moving through the water, but have a greater top speed.
Whichever type of snorkeling fins you ultimately choose, make sure they fit comfortably without squeezing your toes or your snorkeling won't be comfortable. For all snorkeling fins, choose based on your shoe size. Remember you'll need dive boots to protect your heels when wearing adjustable or open-heel snorkeling fins.
Choosing your snorkeling fins
Snorkeling fins aren’t just flippers on the end of your feet. They're the piece of your snorkel gear. You can opt for full foot fins or open heel fins depending on what's most comfortable for you.
Full foot snorkeling fins: These fins are best in places where the water is always warm and typically when you are snorkeling from a boat. You can slip them on, just like a water shoe, and jump in the water—ready to snorkel and explore.
Open heel snorkeling fins (also known as "adjustable fins"): These snorkel fins are designed for multiple environments. To use them, you’ll also need to buy neoprene dive boots that fit into the fin’s foot pocket. They are good for different conditions where the water may not always be as warm or when you may have to walk across rocks to the get to the water.
Whichever style of snorkel fin you choose, you’ll want to get snorkeling fins that fit properly. Full foot fins usually run by shoe size, and open heel fins will run XS-XL, with neoprene booties matching your shoe size.