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The Best Snorkel Fins for Serious Snorkelers

a good pair of snorkel fins makes snorkeling safer and more comfortable

Written by

Alex Gillard

Since 2015 I have been a freelance writer and wildlife photographer, working out of some of the planet’s most spectacular wildlife and nature travel destinations–from the Amazon to Raja Ampat–diving, snorkelling, fieldherping, birding and photographing my way around the world.

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There are snorkelers, and there are serious snorkelers.

The following article is a review of the best snorkel fins for people who take snorkeling seriously. The best all-around fins are the Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins.–awarded Scuba Magazine’s Best Buy Award in 2007.

But I’ve compiled a list of other fins I’ve used and studied that are well-suited to specific use cases.

If you would like to navigate to my comprehensive breakdowns of each pair of fins, click here.

I say “serious” in the title because I am automatically discounting the tiny little fins that you often see in big box stores or are given on snorkel tours.

Those are not serious snorkeling fins. Sure, if you just want to paddle along in a protected, current-free lagoon while observing marine life reef from above, then those will still give you decent propulsion.

Why a good pair of fins from a respected manufacturer is a worthwhile investment for people who take their snorkeling seriously:

  • Better propulsion
  • More efficient energy use
  • Safer (in strong currents)
  • More comfortable foot-pocket material
  • More durable

In this article, however, I focus on fins from reputable companies with storied histories and brand recognition in the water sports industry that are meant for efficiently moving over the reef, battling currents when necessary and ascending and descending with ease. 

I also focus exclusively on full foot fins (AKA closed heel fins) and pass over open heel fins for reasons that I get into further down. 

I’ve been snorkeling, diving and free-diving since I was 10 years old, in both warm and cold water, and I’ve used probably a few dozen pairs of fins in that time.

diving down above a healthy reef in dahab egypt
Napoleon Reef–Dahab, Egypt.

I’ve ordered them online, bought and used them from dive shops, and I know what I like and what works.

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Why the Mares Superchannel Full Foot Fins: In a Nutshell

The Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins are my top choice because they combine the three most important things in a fin for me: foot pocket fit/comfort, efficiency/propulsion and size.

I like a fin that won’t take up too much space (within reason) in my checked bag, won’t give me blisters, but also makes swimming, manoeuvring, descending and ascending easy. 

The Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins from Mares meet all those criteria, they give you great value for the price and Mares is a reputable brand trusted by divers and snorkelers.

mares superchannel full foot snorkeling fins

With that said, of course there are other fins that I like and have used that might be preferable based on a variety of other features.

I will list those fins and their relevant features below so that you are choosing snorkel fins that are appropriate for your needs–travel style, destination, budget, etc.

Keep in mind that all of these fins are professional quality–used by serious divers and snorkelers–and all of them are designed to be worn for extended periods of time and are, therefore, comfortable. No hard plastic or untreated industrial-grade rubber foot pockets on this list

Let’s dive 😉 into my review of the best fins for serious snorkelers.

Best Overall: Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins

mares superchannel full foot snorkeling fins with reef and a diver in the background

I can only write Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins so many times before feeling like I’m chanting a cultish mantra, but they really are the best compromise when it comes to quality and price. 

These are fins designed for Scuba, so they offer good propulsion and efficiency in the water –arguably the most important qualities, especially if you’re someone who likes to dive down and take photographs or who is willing to swim quite a ways offshore.

But they are not so enormous that you need a special gear bag or large checked bag to pack them (so they are great for people who travel light). 

The features that make this fin worth buying are: 

  • Its multi-channel blade
  • Thermal plastic rubber foot pocket
  • Blade stabilization design
  • Weight and dimensions
  • Sizing accuracy

Multi-channel (3) blade

Channels are important because they minimize the surface area resistance in the water and increase speed–for descending and ascending, for fighting currents and for conserving energy.

Mares “Channel Thrust” technology moves a much greater amount of water than other fins of the same size, which propels you through the water faster and more efficiently. It lets you compromise a bit on blade size without sacrificing too much power.

Thermoplastic Rubber Foot Pocket

The best snorkeling fins are going to use either silicone or treated (thermoplastic) rubber for the foot pockets to avoid rubbing your feet raw. I’ve used fins in the past (both ones I’ve bought and ones I’ve borrowed) that have left wounds on my toes and the tops of my feet that look like someone stubbed a cigar out on me.

Comfort is important, and if you look at the reviews for these fins, the word “comfortable” comes up again and again. 

Blade Stabilization

If you are a serious snorkeler, another thing you want in a snorkel fin is blade stabilization. Blade stabilization keeps your movements fluid and drives force in a single direction, reducing the amount of power you lose with each kick. Mares has really put a lot of thought into making this smaller scuba fin (which is ideally what you want for snorkeling) as efficient as possible.

Weight and Dimensions

If you are someone who travels just for scuba diving and snorkeling, then you might even travel with your own dive gear in a separate bag.

If you are looking to pack your fins in a standard checked bag, along with all of your other items and gear, then you need to account for fin size and weight. 

The Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins weigh 1kg (2.25lbs) and measure just 15 x 5 x 2 inches, making them very packable. I write primarily for nature and wildlife travelers (and even more specifically for digital nomads), so these fins are ideal for anyone trying to economize on space.

Sizing Accuracy

Sizing accuracy is always important in a snorkel fin, especially if you’re buying online, because trying to snorkel with fins that are either too big or too small is not enjoyable and returning products is a hassle. 

With that said, the Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins are also my favourite on this list because they achieve the always difficult task of providing sizing recommendations you can actually go off of. 

Keep in mind, however, that the comments for this snorkel fin (as they tend to be for any fin) are a little all over the place when it comes to people’s satisfaction with the sizing, so try and read a few and synthesize the various conclusions into something workable before making a purchase. 

Why You Might Prefer a Different Fin

To put it simply: more power.

The Superchannel will definitely propel you through the water much faster and more efficiently than any of the specially designed stubby “snorkeling fins” out there, and plenty of people use this fin to great effect for warm water diving.

But if you are looking to optimize for pure power, the Superchannel are  still quite flexible fins and the blade is smaller than the others in this article.

They won’t generate as much thrust as a significantly bigger surface area, but they are still very capable fins.

Minor demerits aside, the Mares Superchannel are still the best snorkeling fins out there across all of my criteria.

Best Power-Weight Dynamic: Scubapro Seawing Nova Full Foot Fin

scubapro seawing nova full fut fin with bunaken marine protected area in the background

Scubapro is one of the most trusted names in the diving industry, and most of the reputable dive shops and liveaboards around the world use them. They are made for diving and propelling you through the water while wearing heavy dive gear, so they are second to none on this list when it comes to pure power. 

The features that make this fin worth buying are: 

  • Monoprene elastomer material
  • Proprietary Engineering (articulated joint and wing tips)
  • Power rails

Monoprene Elastomer Material

This thermoplastic is widely used in high-quality sporting goods, including snorkel fins, because it is both soft and tough. Toughness is definitely something to consider when choosing snorkeling fins because you will beat them up over the course of various trips and multiple years. 

Every time you walk or back into a snorkeling spot with your fins on to avoid urchins and jagged rocks, you scuff and scrape the material, and cheap, flimsy fins will fall apart rather quickly. 

Proprietary Engineering

The first piece of proprietary engineering on the Seawing is its articulated joints (a great foot blade type).

These are a very thoughtful and effective addition to these already very capable dive/snorkeling fins because they help generate considerable extra propulsion as the entire blade pivots with each kick, meaning that not only is your body generating force, but the fin is helping you. 

The second unique bit of engineering on this snorkel fin is the winged tips on either side of the blade. Their purpose is to keep the blade stable as you kick so that you generate even more thrust. 

Power rails

The full length side rails are on either side of the extended footplate and their job is to ensure that the footpocket doesn’t bend or twist as you kick, which would waste energy. A really nice stability feature that few (if any) other snorkel fins on the market are going to have. 

Why You Still Might Prefer a Different Fin

The Scubapro Seawing Nova Full Foot Fin are the second heaviest snorkeling fins on this list (weighing in at 2.8lbs) and, combined with the comparative rigidity (which makes them great for diving), they require some more leg (hamstring and quad) strength to use. 

That is not to say that you won’t get used to them, but in order to get the most out of them, you do need decent leg conditioning if you plan on being out in the water for hours at a time and weaker leg muscles could be an issue. 

Think of it like riding a bike along a flat surface in a lower gear. Each rotation of the wheel requires more downward force from you, but the bike transfers more of that energy into powering you forward. 

Still the best power-weight dynamic out of any of the snorkeling fins on the list.

Best Lightweight-Power Snorkel Fins: Seac F100 Pro Diving Fins

seac f100 fins with bunaken marine protected area in the background

Seac is a snorkel fin manufacturer that I have seen more in Europe than North America, but it has been around since the 70s and like its Italian compatriot, Cressi, it is highly trusted by scuba divers, snorkelers and spearfishers. 

They are made especially for warm/tropical waters and are an affordable, lightweight professional fin. 

The features that make this fin worth buying are: 

  • Weight-to-robustness Profile
  • Multi-use Design
  • Inclined Blade 
  • Accurate sizing

Weight-to-Robustness Profile

You will definitely like the F100 snorkeling fins for their weight-to-robustness profile. The technopolymer blade is lightweight, flexible and tough while the thermoplastic foot pocket is made of comfortable thermoplastic rubber. 

Multi-use Design

If you’re both a snorkeler and a diver like me, there is always a bit of a compromise when it comes time to buy snorkeling fins. The Seac makes it easy, though.

Since Seac is also a world-famous free diving fin manufacturer, they have incorporated their free diving tech and experience into a really nice hybrid snorkel fin.

The SEAC F100 fins in blue against a white background
You can see that the F100s are quite long and provide good propulsion when descending and ascending.

You get a fin that is a bit longer than your average scuba fin but not as long as a free diving fin, so you don’t need to worry about manoeuvrability in shallower depths and can avoid damaging the reef while snorkeling

Inclined Blade 

In addition to a slightly longer blade, the F100’s also features a 25-degree inclination, which is designed to minimize the effort required to propel yourself forward. 

Accurate sizing

I’ve mentioned it already with other fins, but anyone who has ever bought snorkeling fins online knows that, when it comes to selecting the right size, there can be a bit of holding your breath 😉 while waiting for your fins to arrive. 

Fit is crucial when buying a snorkel fin because it will make or break your time in the water and the Seac F100 has fantastic reviews when it comes to sizing accuracy.

Usually, if there are various comments from owners indicating that the manufacturer’s sizing recommendations are accurate, you can be pretty sure that buying based on your EU or U.S. shoe size is a safe bet. 

Why You Still Might Prefer a Different Fin

They are loonnnnng. As mentioned, they are made by a company that is renowned for their freediving fins, and while these are nowhere near as long as a standard freediving fin, they are still 30.31 inches.

To give you a better idea of what that implies, the average large checked bag is going to be around 32 inches long, which means the Seac F100 Pro Diving Fins will just barely fit. If you’re planning on traveling light and don’t want to lug a big suitcase or dive bag around with you, you may want to consider some of the other snorkel fins on the list.

Best Easy Packing and Travel Fins: Aqua Lung Stratos 3 Full Foot Fins

aqualung stratos 3 fins with a whaleshark in the background

My first pair of snorkel fins ever were Aqua Lung and I’ve continued to own them and buy them for people since.

Aqua Lung has been making snorkel fins and general snorkel and dive equipment for decades and they definitely make good, professional-quality travel fins. 

The features that make this fin worth buying are: 

  • Stability Features
  • Travel Convenience 
  • Snorkeling-Diving Hybrid Design (a lot of power in a small package)

Stability Features

The Stratos 3’s main stability features are its side wings, which keep the blade in place as you kick, and the grip effect inside the foot pocket that keeps your foot in place. The foot pocket grip is a really nice touch, and you can definitely notice the improved efficiency that comes with a secured foot. 

Travel Convenience

The Aqua Lung Stratos 3 is the second shortest of the snorkel fins on this list (second to the Mares), coming in at only 17 inches long.

This makes them ideal travel fins–for packing in a small checked or even carry-on bag. As someone living out of a large travel backpack, the size of my snorkel fins is something I always take into consideration. 

If you are planning a snorkeling/diving trip, want to travel light, and will be doing as much if not more diving than snorkeling, you might want to consider getting something like the Stratos 3 for snorkeling purposes and using whatever the dive shop/company provides for your dives. 

Snorkeling-Diving Hybrid Design

I really like the engineering approach to the Stratos 3 because you get the best of both snorkeling and diving in this fin.

Despite being a bit on the shorter side, which would typically turn me off of a fin, Aqua Lung compensates for the length deficit by doing things like utilizing a 4-channel structure on the blade and adjusting the blade’s bending point backwards so that you can generate more thrust with less effort. 

You’re unlikely to find a shorter fin (Except for the Mares) that will satisfy serious snorkelers and warm water divers because they are usually designed for very simple snorkeling purposes. 

Why You Still Might Prefer a Different Fin

It can be hard to get the sizing right with these snorkel fins.

Additionally, they’re the second shortest fins on this list, meaning that they are easier to pack than some others, but certainly aren’t the most powerful.

A couple of reviewers also indicated that they believed these fins’ buoyancy (i.e., too buoyant) made them not ideal for snorkeling, although I have yet to experience a buoyancy issue with any of the snorkel fins I’ve owned. 

If you want something easy to pack that still give you that dive fin performance, then the Aqua Lung Stratos 3 are still fantastic.

Best Serious Snorkel Fins for Solo Snorkelers: Cressi Reaction Pro

cressi reacion pro fins with a swordfish corraling a sardine baitball in the background

If you generally snorkel alone and plan on putting yourself in situations where you will potentially need to battle strong currents/also want to be able to easily descend and ascend to observe and photograph reef life, the Cressi Reaction Pro are fantastic snorkel fins. 

Snorkeling a sunken tugboat on Pulau Weh with my cressi reaction pro fins on

Even better than having to battle currents is knowing how to spot them before getting into the water (especially rip currents):

Cressi is maybe the most recognizable name in international diving and snorkeling and the Reaction Pro are very nice, very robust snorkel fins that don’t cost an arm and a leg but feel like they do. 

The features that make this fin worth buying are: 

  • Increased Blade Surface Area and Foot Pocket Position
  • Lightweight Blade
  • Compound Material Design

Increased Blade Surface Area and Foot Pocket Position

Cressi has done something that I really like with the Action Pro and placed the start of the blade near the top of the foot, which gives you a 20% greater surface area with which to make contact with the water (compared to fins of similar size).

Another really nice touch from Cressi is that the foot pocket on this fin is actually below the blade, which is definitely not conventional on most snorkel fins.

This unique full foot blade type allows you to generate more force with each kick since your foot pushes instead of pulls the blade forward (which is more efficient). 

Lightweight Blade

The lighter blade is nice because the fin, in its entirety, is substantially heavier than the other options on this list. The lighter material means you don’t have to exert yourself as much in the water, despite the bulkier overall design. 

Compound Material Design

The Action Pro fins feature three different materials in its design: An elastomer thermo-rubber for the foot pocket, a dual-density polypropylene blade and silicone blade channels.

The end result is a comfortable fin that maintains its structural integrity as you kick while responsive channels create jet-like propulsion on both up and down strokes. You really do notice the lack of effort required to move through the water with these. 

Why You Still Might Prefer a Different Fin

Thre is no way around it, the Cressi Reaction Pro are bulky snorkel fins. They’re 27.5 inches long and weigh 4lbs (1.8kg) together.

I brought these fins with me to Egypt and, with most airlines only allotting you 23kg of checked luggage, they are definitely fins that you need to plan your packing around if you are trying to travel somewhat light. I would recommend these fins for serious snorkelers, as they are definitely a nice piece of gear if you are planning on venturing further from shore and want to feel comfortable in changing currents or more intimidating swell.

I have always loved using these fins and I, personally, wouldn’t mind sacrificing some luggage space for them.

What went into my review 

I’ve been wearing fins since I was 8 years old. I’ve snorkeled in rivers and lakes all over the world, and both temperate and tropical seas.

I’ve logged thousands of hours in the water and used a couple of dozen pairs of fins over the years, both open heel and full foot fins, as well as single blade and full foot split fins–even paddle fins (when I’ve had to). 

Nothing like an hour-long ride back into town on a dirt road, into the wind, on a $100 bike, after 3 hours of snorkeling. Time to go eat falafel and flatbread for lunch for the 10th day in a row!

I know what the correct fin stiffness should feel like if you’re after a serious snorkeling fin and the blade style that makes the most sense.

Why I didn’t select any open heel fins

The long and short of it is that open heel fins more often than not require neoprene boots to wear comfortably and I think those, plus the heel strap (even an adjustable strap), complicate snorkeling. 

Full foot fins require less gear to use, are better travel fins, and I prefer them for warm water snorkeling and diving.

An open heel fin is more often used for scuba diving at depth or in temperate conditions to keep your feet warm. 

And, while the wider, bulkier blades often provide more finning power, you can still get excellent propulsion in a fin without having to wear booties. 

Of course, the best snorkeling fins are going to be whatever feel the best for those wearing them, and some people might prefer neoprene socks, but for the sake of convenience, I try to avoid buying and packing open heel.

Why the Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins Are Still Your Best Bet

If it were possible to travel with all five of the above fins for different conditions, that would be ideal. But, to reiterate, if I could only choose one pair of snorkel fins from the above list, I would still definitely go for the Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins. 

The combination of weight and dimension convenience, engineering, comfort, and accurate sizing makes them a no-brainer for me. 

Add in the affordable price and the trustworthiness of the Mares name, and you’ve got a pretty unbeatable set of snorkel fins that will provide you with professional-level performance that you can easily travel with. 

You can further review and buy the Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins here

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