If you’ve decided to buy your own snorkeling gear, you’re looking for a more personal connection with the water. Renting and impulse buying won’t cut it for you. I think that’s awesome! Even if you’re a total beginner, investing in your own gear is a wise decision you won’t regret. When taken care of, a quality mask, snorkel, and fins will last you 25+ years! You’re making a long-term investment that will set you forth on all kinds of adventures. That includes not only snorkeling but SCUBA and freediving as well! But how do you know where to buy snorkeling gear that’s of good quality?
The best place to buy a quality mask, snorkel, and fins is a dedicated dive shop.
Okay, I admit I hate shopping for anything. But even enthusiastic shoppers can feel intimidated when buying something unfamiliar. With the right gear, your snorkeling experiences will drastically improve, and you will start to feel at home in the water. A dedicated dive shop (on- or offline) is the only venue where you’ll have access to both quality gear and experts to help you make a choice that’s right for you!
How much does quality snorkeling gear cost?
Quick answer: A quality mask, snorkel, and fins from a dive shop can run you anywhere between $50 – $300 US dollars. The exact amount depends on the manufacturer, materials used, the overall design, and any special features (not to mention sales and discounts).
Now you might be thinking, “Hang on, I’ve seen snorkel sets for way cheaper at resort gift shops! Why should I spend more at a dive store?”
Of course, I like a good deal as much the next person, but here’s the thing:
Masks, snorkels, and fins aren’t toys. They are specialized sporting equipment.
The quality of your snorkeling gear depends on its design, materials, and manufacturing. A high-quality snorkel, mask, and fins will be comfortable, durable, and much safer to use than gear of questionable quality.
Certain designs such as split fins, frameless masks, or dry snorkels are more expensive. Similarly, the complexity of the materials, such as the type of silicone, composite plastics, and the methods required to construct them will also affect the price. Well-designed masks, snorkels, and fins are precision-engineered to maximize both function and comfort. That includes little details you may not have thought about like the shape of a mask’s lenses, the flexibility of a fin’s blade, or the contour of a snorkel tube.
These companies have spent many years (decades in some cases) perfecting the design and construction of snorkeling and diving equipment. They are the go-to choices for amateurs and pros alike. While it’s possible you may find some of these brands at a hotel store, you’re much better off going to a dive shop.
Should you buy snorkeling gear from an online or an offline dive shop?
Quick answer: Start your browsing online, then go to a physical dive shop if you live near a good one. Otherwise, buy online from a store that has a good return policy in case your gear doesn’t fit well.
The main advantage of going to a physical dive shop is that you can test the fit of your mask, snorkel, and fins right away. There will also be staff on-hand to help you, and you won’t have to pay any shipping or customs fees! However, dive shops aren’t quite as common as your average department store. Perhaps you aren’t lucky enough to live within an accessible distance of one. If you do, it may only have a limited selection of items and sizes in stock.
On the other hand, online dive shops have much wider selections for you to choose from. That goes for brands, models, and sizes. You can shop from home, and your purchases will be conveniently delivered to your doorstep! The major downside is you’ll have to wait until after purchasing to determine if your gear fits well.
As for cost, online dive shops tend to have more frequent promotional offers, discounts, and sales than physical dive shops. But unlike shopping in-person, you may have to pay for shipping and customs. How things add up will depend on your specific location and the stores/items in question.
My advice is to at least start your shopping online
That way, you can browse many different kinds of items, read reviews, and make a short-list. If you live near a dive shop, they might have an online catalog. Then you can make your final decision based on your personal circumstances. For example, your local dive shop might have what you’re looking for, but there’s a better deal for your items at an online store.
Tip: Instead of searching for “Where to buy snorkeling gear near me” in Google, try “Where to buy SCUBA gear near me” or “Dive shops near me” instead! If you want good quality equipment, you need to find out where the divers in your area go!
Where to buy snorkeling gear online
So where should you shop? I do all my online dive shopping at Leisure Pro. I’ve never had a bad experience with their customer service and their shipping is reasonable (even to Canada). Their website is also well designed and easy to browse. If you’re in the US, many of their items qualify for free shipping with a 60-day return policy. For fins and wetsuits, they also have a Pressure-Free Fit Guarantee where you can exchange your fins for a different size within 30 days of purchase without additional shipping costs (if you’re in the continental US).
Other popular online dive shops include: Divers Direct, Divers-Supply, Scuba.com, and Simply Scuba (shipping from the UK). I’ve not bought anything from these stores, though, so I can’t personally vouch for them.
If you’re buying snorkeling gear online for the first time, then check out a few of these sites. See if you like their selection, if they ship to your location, and if you enjoy browsing the products. You’re more likely to make a bad choice if you want the shopping experience over with fast! (This may or may not have been the reason for most of my regretted purchases in the past… *guilty face*)
Whether you choose to buy on- or offline, don’t make your purchase at the last minute!
Take the time you need to research and browse different models, read reviews, and make a well-thought-out shortlist.
I know for some of us (raises hand) shopping is like getting our unmentionables waxed! But taking the time to shop thoughtfully will ensure you won’t waste money on a product that doesn’t work well for you. A little unpleasantness is totally worth the countless hours of comfortable, stress-free snorkeling you’ll get out of it!
Should you buy your snorkeling gear in a set or buy each item separately?
Quick answer: A mask and snorkel combo set might be a good fit for you, but buy your fins separately!
As you’re shopping, you’ll come across a lot of combo sets that include a face mask, snorkel, and fins. Often, these three-piece combos will be much cheaper than buying each item on its own. Seems like a good deal, right?
Well… not necessarily!
Why? Because that’s three separate items that must be ideal for your size, fitness, and experience level. You could get away with a mask and snorkel combo, but fins too? Not likely!
In my opinion, if you’re shopping for all three items, and you happen to find a combo that includes models you’ve already researched as being good options for you, then go for it. Otherwise, shop for your feet separately! Finding ideal footwear is hard enough without factoring in other specialty equipment as well!
For mask and snorkel combos, the main advantage is that you’ll be saving some money and time. Mask and snorkel combos are an ideal choice if you don’t need specific features on both your mask and snorkel. If they’re in a set, the mask and snorkel may also be designed to work well together.
But maybe you do want specific features on each item, such as corrective lenses or splash guards. In that case, finding a set where both have everything you need will be tricky. If you’re a perfectionist with your comfort and style, then buying separately will let you mix and match for an optimal combination.
So, are you ready for some snorkel shopping? If you’ve never been to a dive shop, I guarantee you’ll have a great first experience! They’re addictive spaces to hang out in, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself returning many times!
Where to buy snorkeling gear: Take-away points
- Do some online research to make a short-list of masks, snorkels, and fins you think will be a good fit for you
- Stick to dive shop websites while you’re browsing online for access to thorough reviews, diver forums full of advice, and experts who can help you make a good choice
- Visit a physical dive shop if you live within an accessible distance of one. Bring your short-list and don’t be shy about asking the staff there for help!
- Whether you buy on- or offline, be sure to test the fit of your snorkeling gear before using it in water. If you visit a physical dive shop, the staff will be happy to assist you!
- Don’t leave your snorkel shopping to the last minute!
If you want some further advice on shopping for snorkeling gear, leave me a comment! I’ve also written extensively on snorkeling gear for beginners, so check out these posts too:
Disclaimer: Some of the links used in this article are affiliate links. That means I may get a small commission if you buy a product after following the link (you can read more about how I use affiliate links here). If you found this article helpful, consider it like giving me a little thank you!
If you want to keep updated on the content I produce here at Tide Trek, please consider signing up to my mailing list. At the end of each month I prepare a little round-up newsletter that summarizes new articles I’ve written, and content I’ve curated covering all things water sports (even some cool marine science too!)