Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Do you Have to Wear Fins When Snorkeling?

a woman with long clear fins swims over the reef in Kona Hawaii

Do you have to wear fins when snorkeling?

You head to the beach with your snorkel gear, towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, and beach chair. You consider yourself a strong swimmer but once you arrive you see so many people walking around with snorkel gear which includes a mask, snorkel, and fins. Some people are even wearing wet suits too. Is all this stuff really necessary? No you do not need to wear fins while snorkeling but it will be more difficult.


a woman dives down towards the coral reef as a man floats on the surface looking on

A couple snorkels Kealakekua Bay’s reef on the Captain Cook Snorkeling Tour


 “Fins allow a snorkeler to move more quickly and efficiently through the water just as a bicyclist can move faster than a runner”


About The Author

I’m Byron Kay owner of Kona Freedivers, Kona Snorkel Trips, and Kona Honu Divers. Since the age of 1 I have been swimming underwater holding my breath. I teach people how to freedive and push their limits beyond what they knew was possible.


What is Essential Snorkeling Gear?

You can find a basic set of snorkel gear and just about any decent dive shop these days. These little mini sets typically include a bag, mask, snorkel, and little bitty fins. The sets are usually quite inexpensive and will get the job done for many people.  You may have purchased one of these kits yourself only to arrive at the beach and find that the mask doesn’t fit your face the snorkel is uncomfortable, and the fins do almost nothing to propel you through the water.


2 sets of snorkel gear sitting on lava rock


If you wish to avoid this uncomfortable situation check out our snorkel gear guide where we answer questions like do you have to wear fins when snorkeling, and what are the 2 essential pieces of snorkel gear? When snorkeling it is of critical importance to be wearing a mask. Without a mask, it’s impossible to see anything under water.  if you’re going to go snorkeling you must wear a mask.  Now let’s say you want to go snorkeling. this undoubtedly requires a snorkel doesn’t it? Yes if you have a snorkel it really does make it more snorkeling and not just swimming. The snorkel allows you to lay prone on your stomach and spend more time in the water rather than on the water breathing.


Other Snorkeling Gear Guides:

Snorkeling Gear Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Snorkeling UV Protection


Why do Snorkelers Wear Fins?

So you have your mask and snorkel and you get in the water. You swim around a little bit and you look around you notice that there are other snorkelers wearing fins. Some are wearing small fins that come with those cheapie snorkel kits, and others are wearing long fins, diving down deep reaching the bottom far below. Yes it is true, fins will help Propel you further with less energy. If you notice Ironman swimmers they often aren’t kicking with their legs. This is because our legs are almost useless when it comes to swimming. They do very little to propel us through the water. Hence the creation of fins.


Fins allow us to use our feet and our legs to propel us efficiently and effectively through the water. Our legs have some of the biggest muscles in our bodies, and they are used to propelling us forward while walking. Wearing fins in the water is like walking. With decent size fins you won’t even have to use your arms anymore to swim through the water! So you have to ask yourself, do you have to wear fins when snorkeling? This question could be applied to other aspects of our life. Do you have to wear shoes while running? Some people choose to be different and this is your choice. If you want to make the most out of your snorkeling experience we highly recommend you wear fins while snorkeling. there are exceptions to this however. When we take snorkelers on our manta ray night snorkel Kona snorkel trips will not give you fins. This is because our snorkel guide has fins! You just hold on to the surfboard and our experience snorkel guide wearing Long Blade fins will tell you through the water to the perfect spot for viewing the mantas.


Freedivers and Long Fins

If you visit many of the great snorkel spots on the big island you may see some people wearing spelt wetsuits a mask and snorkel weight belts and carrying Long Blade fins. These are known as free divers. The big island is one of the best places in the world to do freediving. the sport involves diving down just as you would when you are snorkeling with the aim of being as efficient as possible. You’ll notice the things they carry are quite long. You might think this is because they have more power. This is not necessarily true, because freedivers aren’t really looking for power. and free diving you have to use the one breath you have to the best of your ability. This means empathizing efficiency. These Long Blade spins allow you to move more efficiently through the water.


 As a free diver do you have to wear fins when snorkeling? No. Many free divers will dive without fins and sometimes without a mask! This is a discipline known as no fins freediving. traditionally freediving is done with Long Blade fins. This is because you can dive deeper with these fans done without. Some free divers even use what are known as monofins. These massive mermaid tail looking fins allow freedivers to move more quickly and efficiently through the water than traditional by fins. The last record for diving on a single breath with a mono fin was 130 meters (427ft)! This is the equivalent of swimming almost 3 football fields straight down and back up. Your lungs shrink to 1/12 their original size at this depth.


So ask yourself, do you have to wear fins when snorkeling? The short answer is no. You do not have to wear fins while snorkeling. You don’t have to wear shoes while running. You don’t have to wear sunglasses to look cool. You don’t have to wear gloves while golfing. And you definitely don’t have to wear a costume when attending a Halloween party. But honestly, who do you think you are?


Is snorkeling Better with Fins?

The short answer is YES. Snorkeling will typically be better with fins. Fins allow a snorkeler to move more quickly and efficiently through the water just as a bicyclist can move faster than a runner because he can now amplify the power his legs produce. Without fins our feet don’t get us very far very fast in the water.


About  Kona Snorkel Trips

Kona snorkel trips is Hawaii’s Premier snorkeling boat tour operator. We take thousands of snorkelers every year out to see the manta ray night snorkel, Kona snorkel trips most popular activity. We also offer Kona snorkeling tours like the Deluxe AM Charter and Afternoon Snorkel. To learn more checkout our snorkel tours page.