Big Island Snorkling Tours Blog

What Do You Wear For Snorkeling?

The Hoku Nui at sea

Snorkel Planet on what to wear to snorkel.  Join us on the Hoku Nui for some ocean fun in the Kona Coast waters snorkeling with the best crew and the marine life of the Big Island.  We provide the gear.

Welcome (back) everyone! Yes, this is my sense of humor. Of course this article will be helpful, I just couldn’t resist to post this picture in regards to the topic I’ll be discussing.

What I’ll do is as follows: First I’ll cover basic gear, then some additional helpful (or fun) gear, and let’s finish with stuff you might never heard of.

Basic Snorkel Gear


If snorkeling is a recreational hobby, don’t bother to get yourself a fancy swimsuit or short. I guess most of us own some kind of swimwear already. If however you have a sensitive skin and prefer an extra layer of sun protection (in addition to sunscreen), check out the clothes section in my article about UV-protection.


Allright, cool, now that we have something to wear we’ll fit in nicely with all the other beach guests. To actually see fish and corals we need to get us a snorkel mask. There are a few options:

Regular Masks

Regular masks are available in a bunch of (online) stores, or you can probably grab one at a local beach shop. They don’t need to be expensive, especially if you plan to only snorkel once or twice. I share a decent “starter mask” in my article called Best Gifts For Snorkelers.

Masks With Prescription Lenses

If you wear glasses, there are a few options to consider. Of course you could decide to wear contact lenses, after which there’s no problem to wear the regular mask I just mentioned. If however you don’t like to wear lenses, a prescription snorkel mask could be a great idea. These usually are a little more expensive, but even online shops allow you to choose your personal + or – per lens. You can read all about them in my guide about snorkeling with glasses.

Full Face Snorkel Masks

These masks provide a wider view (angle) and cover the entire face. You don’t need an additional snorkel (which I’ll cover next) so that’s very convenient, especially if you are frightened to put any gear into your mouth. However, keep in mind that these types of masks aren’t meant for everybody and that they might come with certain dangers (depending on which one you buy and whether or not you know what you’re doing). If you’re interested, I cover all the details in my full face snorkel mask review where I also share the gear I personally use.


If you’re a newbie, snorkels allow you to breathe underwater. They’re like a tube that connect your mouth with the air above the ocean surface. There are a lot to choose from. Maybe a “dry snorkel” is a great option as the top of the tube closes whenever someone submerges. Others prefer to grab one that comes with a snorkel purge valve (this is a link to my review with more gear).

Additional And Helpful Gear

Now that we covered the basics of what to wear when snorkeling, let’s focus on making things as comfortable as possible.

Water Shoes

If you’ve snorkeled before, you probably know the importance of protecting your feet. Sure, you can snorkel just fine without shoes, but rocks or bottles (and lots more) could be right below your feet if you don’t pay attention. Another big advantage is that these shoes keep your feet warm, which is helpful in cold water. They also come with UV protection and make walking on hot sand an easy job. They don’t necessarily need to be expensive as I explained in my water shoes review.

Life Vests

If you’re a good swimmer and if the water is calm, maybe you don’t want to wear a life vest. I often wear mine for a variety of reasons. They keep you afloat, protect your skin and make you more appealing (in case of an emergency). You often get one whenever you join a snorkel trip (like on a boat) because the instructors want you to be safe (and keep an eye on you). And hey, they can be quite comfortable as well! Just like water shoes, they are able to keep you a little warmer in cold water. For anyone who’s interested, here’s my life vests for snorkelers guide.

Rash Guards

If you ask people what they wear for snorkeling, not everyone will mention a rash guard. Nevertheless, they can be extremely helpful (and comfortable)! Think of them like a body suit you put on in order to protect your skin from sunburns. However, they also protect your skin from scratches and keep you nice and warm. But I get it, some say they “don’t look cool”. Well, in a way maybe, but in the end it’s all about snorkeling and not what other people say. Besides, there are some really cool ones available. I come across plenty of people who wear a rash guard when snorkeling, especially in cold water. Want to learn more? Here’s my review and guide about snorkel rash guards.


Fins are very common and highly appreciated by most snorkelers. You can wear some models in combination with water shoes. Think of them as an extension of your feet. They allow you to swim faster and make you more flexible in the water. Maybe even more important is the fact that they save you energy. They propel you forward more efficiently, which also means that (if you use them for speed) you get to see a larger underwater area. There are way more advantages and there are so many different kinds of fins available. If you consider to get a pair and if you wonder which ones to get, feel free to visit my snorkel fins review.


Probably not the winner when it comes to comfort, but definitely worth to mention here. There’s probably going to be a situation where you just need to take some of your belongings with you into the water. Maybe something valuable, or maybe money because you’re snorkeling towards that beach club nearby. Whatever the reason, being able to bring a certain amount of stuff with you can sometimes be essential. They don’t necessarily need to be big. I list quite a few available options in my article about waterproof bags and cases.


Just like swimmers, some snorkelers prefer to wear a cap when entering the water. I never wear one, but that’s me. Apart from keeping your hair dry they’re also available in UV protecting fabrics. This could be very helpful for bald people.


I guess that most of my readers already know not to touch anything that lives in the ocean. However, just like water shoes, protecting your hands can be very beneficial. Maybe there’s a rocky area nearby that you plan to visit, just for a quick break or for the view. I’m not saying to climb around like an acrobat, just understand that if you really need to touch a rock or a stone it could be worth it to protect your hands. My full snorkel gloves review explains more details.


Since this is a serious and important topic, I do advise you to read my full guide about UV protection (I linked to it already at the beginning of this article). Make sure to apply enough and to also reapply according to the instructions. There’s a lot to choose from. Maybe it’s also good to mention that there are some reef-friendly sunscreens available. If we all care about the ocean and our aquatic friends, we’re able to enjoy their company for years to come.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t advise you to snorkel when it’s dark. When it’s a sunny day and the ocean is clear, a flashlight is probably not going to benefit you. However, there could be a few clouds right at the moment when you think you spotted that brain coral. You’d like to take a picture with your underwater camera, but there’s just not enough contrast. Well, for anyone who recognizes this situation, maybe a flashlight will help you out. I cover quite a few in my snorkel flashlights review.


Maybe my most favorite thing to “wear” is my waterproof GoPro. And I say “wear” because it’s attached to the top of my full face snorkel mask. I do (of course) use my selfie stick as well, or I hold it whenever I’m trying to take that perfect picture. But in most cases, I wear it on my head. I leave it on for a certain period of time, because who knows…maybe that sea turtle will suddenly appear from nowhere. I really want to capture that moment. Another fun thing is to wear it on a boat trip (the ones you join with a group). Probably something funny will happen at some point, which is always great for the bloopers section in my holiday videos. Want to learn more? Here’s the link to my giant guide for snorkeling with a GoPro.


For people who want (or need) to avoid water accumulation in their ears, earplugs can be of great help. I talk about a few good options in my article about snorkeling with earplugs.

Swim Buoys

You can wear these swim buoys just like the lifeguards in the series Baywatch. They help you to stay afloat, which for some of us is very beneficial. Just like life vests, these buoys help you to save some energy. There are a lot of similar ways to stay afloat. Some people prefer something that’s inflatable whilst others use a simple foam board. I summarize a lot of available gear in my guide about staying afloat while snorkeling.

Stuff You Probably Don’t Need

Now that I shared quite some inspiration on what to wear, let’s finish with a little fun! I know, the following aren’t really “something you wear”, or maybe they are in a certain way.

Walkie Talkie

Did you know there’s a walkie talkie for snorkelers? It’s true! And it’s called the “snorkie talkie”. I’m not joking! You can wear one on your full face snorkel mask, or well, on a certain type. Here’s the link to my full review about the snorkel walkie talkie.

Underwater Scooters

Ok, I have to admit that you don’t really wear this on you, but it’s something you can take with you. If you don’t have enough energy to swim for a certain amount of time, why not go for a helping hand? These underwater scooters assist you on your journey, but of course, it’s important that you know what you’re doing. Here’s my guide about snorkeling with an underwater scooter.

Metal Detectors

Another fun thing to “wear” when snorkeling is a metal detector. There’s one for snorkelers that helps you find treasures underwater. You probably guessed it…yes, I reviewed metal detectors for snorkelers too. Maybe a good idea to also get a pair of snorkel gloves.

Final Thoughts

Let me finish by saying that if you ask yourself what to wear when snorkeling, maybe it’s even better to ask yourself what it is you need exactly. A mask and a snorkel will probably be enough under calm and easy circumstances. Then there’s also the debate between buying vs renting snorkel gear. If you don’t know if you will actually like this hobby, why not simply rent for a day and go from there? Many snorkel tours offer the necessary gear as well, so maybe that’s another good option. However, wearing your own gear is usually the most comfortable as it fits people best.

Don’t go all crazy on wearables and gear. Snorkeling should be fun and as convenient as possible. If you’re all packed with heavy gear, that could be a hassle. But I get it, sometimes it’s fun to bring a lot of stuff to the beach. In that case, maybe a beach cart for soft sand will help you out.

One last thing. For anyone who’s looking for something fun, like funny snorkel shirts, here’s a nice collection on Zazzle. Not meant for snorkeling, but just appealing clothes that should get the spirits up on a day at the beach. Or maybe just a cool present.


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