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Hi! I’m Simon, a marine biologist and whale shark researcher. Most of my work is done on snorkel – either surface swimming or freediving. This year alone Mads and I have snorkeled with whale sharks, manta rays, seals, green turtles, sharks, dolphins, and through beautiful reefs. For these encounters, you need decent fins, and we love the Mares Avanti Superchannel Snorkel Fin. It’s super comfortable on various foot types, has an easy kick action that won’t tire you out, provides a blast of power, and is our pick of our Overall Winner for Best Fins for Snorkeling 2020.
We’ve reviewed all the best snorkel fins on the market below. Click on the snorkel fin name to read customer reviews and check the current price.
What’s on this page:
- In a hurry? Our picks for The Best Fins for Snorkeling in 2020 are…
- Our reviews of the best Fins for Snorkeling:
- Mares Superchannel Snorkeling Fin
- Mares Wave Snorkeling Fin
- Mares Avanti Quattro Power Snorkeling Fin
- Scubapro GO Travel Snorkeling Fin
- Wildhorn Topside Snorkeling Fins
- …and now… the research!
- How we identified the best fins for snorkeling:
- Things to consider when choosing a top snorkel fin:
- Short blade snorkel fins are all the rage. We don’t like them.
- Snorkel fins vs dive fins
- Flex and stiffness of a snorkel fin
- Leg strength matters when choosing a snorkel fin
- We love a full foot snorkel fin
- QUICK RECAP > Our picks for the Best Fins for Snorkeling [2020 Edition] are:
In a hurry?
Our picks for The Best Fins for Snorkeling in 2020 are…
Mares Avanti Superchannel
The Fins for Snorkeling
The Best Fins for Snorkeling
Mares Avanti Quattro Power
The Best Fins for Snorkeling
Scubapro GO Travel
The Best Fins for Snorkeling
The Best Fins for Snorkeling
Multifunction for Travel
Our reviews of the best Fins for Snorkeling:
Things we love: The Mares Avanti Superchannel Snorkel Fin makes kicking a breeze, while the multichannel design efficiently propels you through the water. Great for duck divers who need a little underwater power. An ultra-comfortable, soft-molded foot pocket means you can wear with or without neoprene socks. This is our clear winner for The Best Fins for Snorkeling for 2020.
Other factors: The fin have a medium flex, and this means they’re easier to kick than our expert choice, but not as powerful. Compared to our Beginner’s choice which is very flexible, they are more much more powerful but require a little more effort to kick. We go through this in more detail at the bottom here.
Things we love: If you are a beginner snorkeller who tends to snorkel about happily at the surface, without the need for quick power then the Mares Wave Snorkeling Fin provides a comfortable flexible fin. Also great for those with weaker leg muscles as the flex won’t tire your legs out as you kick for prolonged periods.
Other factors: If you think you’ll do some shallow freediving, or will need to pick up power against currents or to keep up with marine life, these will feel floppy and flimsy, and will require ALOT of kicking to get you moving at speed. Also, if you have strong legs these will feel too wimpy, go for the expert choice below.
Things we love: These longer blade fins are also very popular amongst divers and freedivers as they provide amazing power. They’re flexible enough to snorkel at the surface without tiring out while giving enough propulsion to keep up with those mantas or swim against currents.
If you are a beginner and you have decently strong legs go for these as their stiffness won’t tire you out, and you’ll love how these blasts you through the water. Best enjoyed with a pair of neoprene socks.
Other factors: To get its excellent power the fin is slightly stiffer, which means prolonged sessions in the ocean may get tiring if you have slightly weaker leg muscles.
Things we love: The most popular travel fin for snorkelers and divers. Enjoy ‘easy-kick’ surface snorkeling for long periods with excellent propulsion while maintaining streamlined power during shallow freedives. It has a comfortable soft-molded foot pocket, is incredibly durable (‘unbreakable’!), and travels well at 771grams.
Other factors: The shorter blade won’t give as much powerful propulsion as the Mares Quattro above. They are also not as aesthetically pleasing, but hey, they do a great job without the fuss, and certainly outperform other ‘travel fins’ on the market.
Things we love: These are hugely popular and people love you can wear them across the hot sand, rocks, or hard-shelled entries that can be hard on your feet. They’re short fins feel like you are wearing nothing. They are also comfortable thanks to the neoprene socks. Popular amongst casual snorkelers who just want something a bit more than their own feet. Also gaining popularity amongst swimmers and surfers.
Other factors: Short fins means minimal propulsion. Not something we’d personally recommend though given their massive popularity we’d be amiss to not include them here.
…and now… the research!
Why you can trust this guide
Simon is a shark conservation biologist and world-renowned underwater photographer who dives, snorkels and freedives for a living. He is a co-founder and Principal Scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, where he leads the global whale shark research and conservation program. His marine research and photography are routinely covered by major media outlets, including the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and New York Times amongst many others. One of his photographs was chosen as a personal favourite of Sir David Attenborough’s, in conjunction with BBC’s Blue Planet II series, and another illustrates one of the global PADI scuba diving certification cards.
Madeleine is an avid scuba diver and recreational freediver who’s dived some of the most spectacular locations around the world, including Misool and northern Raja Ampat, Lembongan, Lembeh Straight, Tulamben, Fiji, Vanuatu, and of course at home in Australia. She’s a minimalist and likes to travel light (which Simon encourages, as he can then use her baggage allowance!!), opting to mostly hire dive and snorkel gear wherever she goes. She’s been sampling the world’s equipment for over a decade. She has opinions.
How we identified the best fins for snorkeling:
We looked at all the current models from top brands globally to find the best snorkel fins on the market in 2019. Aside from our own personal experience with lots of different snorkel fins, Madeleine spent hours watching YouTube Reviews and product explainers, arguing with Simon, debating with diver friends, and scouring reviews and message boards. To summarize:
- I spent 12 hours in snorkel fin research on Amazon and LeisurePro.
- I read hundreds of reviews covering all experience levels and snorkeling needs.
- I viewed dozens of YouTube reviews and product explainers.
- I spoke to snorkeling retailers in both Australia and Indonesia who specialize in snorkeling, freedive, and diving fins.
- Simon and I spend our lives in the water and know what is needed in various situations.
- We’ve chatted with dozens of other snorkelers about their fins and what’s important to them.
- We interviewed marine biologists and snorkeling tour guides to get their feedback on functionality and durability.
Things to consider when choosing a top snorkel fin:
- Quality construction and durability
- Comfort is paramount, without it you won’t kick effectively or enjoy the experience.
- A blend of flex and stiffness is needed and your experience level and leg strength will largely affect preference.
- A medium-length blade is convenient to travel with and performs well under most conditions.
- We like a full foot fin. Firstly, they are cheaper than open foot plus you don’t need to buy boots; are ultra-comfortable and feel soft and amazing when paired with neoprene socks; they are light and more compact to travel with; they’re firmly secured against your foot so feel like a true extension of your body; they’re streamlined and less bulky; they have less parts to break.
- and finally, Price. A good snorkeling fin shouldn’t cost more than $150. Anything under $50 lacks quality and comfort.
Short blade snorkel fins are all the rage. We don’t like them.
Here’s our snorkel fin picks and you can see clearly the difference in length. Often you’ll find snorkeling fins that are short – like the multifunctional Wildhorne below – but we don’t like these as they offer little propulsion so you have to kick furiously to keep up. Also, due to all that kicking, short snorkel fins are noisy and create excess whitewash. Longer snorkel fins are quick, smooth and stealthy which is what’s needed for excellent wildlife encounters, as skittish animals will be freaked out by the thrashing about and duck for cover.
Recently on a whale shark snorkeling trip, the boat offered guests short fins, while Simon and I had our longer fins. We had no trouble keeping up with the shark compared to the short finners who were kicking hard and getting nowhere fast. In addition, their hard kicking created excess whitewash and noise.
Simon’s current snorkeling and dive fin is our pick for Expert snorkelers – the longer blade Mares Avanti Quattro Power Snorkeling Fin. When we need serious freediving power we use our long blade freediving fins.
Snorkel fins vs dive fins
Fins come in a range of flex and rigidity as explained below.
Divers like a rigid more powerful fin to move all their equipment through the water to swim against strong currents at depth and when surfacing.
Snorkelers like a more flexible easy-kick fin that cuts through the surface easily. Our top picks are ideal for snorkeling, even if they can also be used for diving.
Flex and stiffness of a snorkel fin
If you spend time snorkeling at the surface you’ll want something flexible and easy to kick, but if you like to explore with some shallow freediving often you’ll want something that’s more rigid and powerful underwater.
You can see below, what’s BLACK is flexible rubber, what’s YELLOW is stiff:
Mare Wave is mostly rubber so highly flexible, easier to kick, but less power.
Suitable for: beginners, and/or those with less leg power.
Mares Multi-channel is about half-half, so medium flexibility, and power.
Suitable for: Everyone, it’s our top pick.
Mares Avanti Power has a small amount of rubber, so less flexible and harder to kick, but lots of power.
Suitable for: experts, and/or those with more leg power.
Leg strength matters when choosing a snorkel fin
- Do you have strong leg muscles? If so, you can skip directly to our expert snorkeling fins. You won’t outgrow these guys – they’re great for surface snorkeling and for full-on freediving, providing you loads of power. It’s the slightly increased rigidity that gives them more power, but your strong legs won’t even notice it, and the more flexible fins might seem too flimsy for you.
- Do you have weaker leg muscles? If so, you’ll love the beginner snorkel fins, regardless of skill level. The huge amounts of flexible rubber mean kicking is super easy for long periods of time, so you won’t get tired legs. These will be less powerful and fast, but means you’ll enjoy the experience!
We love a full foot snorkel fin
Over the years we have come to love closed heel fins with neoprene socks, over open heel with booties.
- Lighter and smaller to travel with than bulky open heels and booties, which are as bulky as a pair of sneakers.
- The fin is firmly secured against your foot so they’re immediately responsive to your movements and finning power.
- Fin socks are super comfortable to wear, and won’t rub like the zip and heel on a bootie can.
- Provide a streamlined in-water experience. The bulkiness of booties and their zips, along with the size adjuster on open heeled fins tend to cause unnecessary drag.
If you’re snorkeling in cooler areas or with rocky entries where you’ll want to protect your feet then go open heel with booties, but we find it’s almost never needed. Even on the odd rubble shore dive we can hack the few steps it takes to get deep enough to sit and put on our fins.
QUICK RECAP > Our picks for the Best Fins for Snorkeling [2020 Edition] are:
- WINNER > Mares Superchannel Snorkeling Fin
- Beginners Fins > Mares Wave Snorkeling Fin
- Expert Fins > Mares Avanti Quattro Power Snorkeling Fin
- Travel Fins > Scubapro GO Travel Snorkeling Fin
- Multi-purpose Travel Fin > Wildhorn Topside Snorkeling Fins
My, aren’t you the dedicated reader. Hope you’ve found this guide helpful!
Have you used any of our top dive computer picks? What did you think of them? Got a different favorite? Let us know below!