Ultimate buying guide for the best snorkel gear for kids

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Our little boy can’t swim yet, but he loves to snorkel. When you go on a diving holiday with kids, snorkeling is a great way to discover the underwater world together with your child! It’s a great basis for homeschooling as well. Both of us are scuba divers and we greatly enjoy teaching our son about the reef’s ecosystem and its inhabitants. If you want your child to really enjoy the experience it’s important to buy the best snorkel gear for kids. Pay special attention to your kids’ snorkel mask. A top-rated snorkel mask for kids is essential. A leaking kids swim mask will most likely ruin the experience.

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In this product guide, we will tell you all about the top-rated snorkel gear for kids. Read our kids snorkel set reviews and lots of information about the best snorkel for kids, the best snorkel mask for kids and the best kids fins.

IMPORTANT: if your child doesn’t know how to swim yet or isn’t a strong swimmer, let them wear a kids snorkel vest or inflatable armbands and never let them snorkel alone! 

What is a kids snorkel set?

Snorkeling gear for kids consists of a kids snorkel, a kids snorkel mask and kids swim fins. If your child can’t swim yet, you can consider buying a kids snorkel vest. We simply use inflatable armbands or ‘arm floaties’, which work great. Make sure to pair your snorkeling kit for kids with sun protection swimwear and the best sunblock for kids. You’ll get a sunburn quickly while snorkeling. Kids wetsuits are great if your child gets cold easily. 

Snorkels for kids

A snorkel is basically just a bent tube with a mouthpiece. For adults almost any type of snorkel will do, but for kids there are two things you need to pay attention to: the mouthpiece and the design of the snorkel. A snorkel for kids or a toddler snorkel has a smaller mouthpiece. It needs to be comfortable enough for them to keep it in their mouth for a while. Getting a snorkel with a ‘dry’ design is preferred as a kids snorkel. With a dry snorkel, even if they do accidentally dip the top of the snorkel in the water or catch a bit of spray, no water will flow in. In case water flows in at the mouthpiece or if the dry mechanism leaks, a purge valve at the bottom still allows water to be expelled upon exhaling. 

Snorkel mask for kids

A leaky mask can ruin all the fun, any scuba diver or snorkeler will tell you this. And clearing your mask every few seconds simply isn’t doable for a child. Getting salty seawater in their eyes can put your kids off snorkeling altogether, so it’s best to minimize the chance by buying a good fitting children’s snorkel mask. To clear things up, kids swimming goggles do not work for snorkeling. There is no such thing as snorkeling goggles for kids. Goggles only cover your eyes, which is great for swimming. But a kids snorkel mask covers both the eyes and the nose. Is the best snorkel mask for kids the best snorkel mask for your child? The fit of a kids diving mask depends on your child’s age and the shape of their face. A snorkel mask for 2-year-old will be much smaller than a junior snorkel mask. For adults with a narrow face a kids scuba mask will often be a good solution.

Kids full face snorkel mask


To us scuba divers the full face snorkel masks look a bit silly. But, you can’t deny they make snorkeling more accessible for lots of people. And a kids full face mask can be more comfortable for kids than a regular mask and snorkel. It’s easier to breathe as kids can breathe both through their mouth and nose, there’s no discomfort for jaws and teeth and no fogging. It’s important to note that the dry snorkel system only works if the snorkel is immersed vertically. If your children dip their head forward a bit too much or try to dive, water will flow in. As with any type of scuba mask, size and fit are important. A children’s full face snorkel mask is basically an adult full face mask in a smaller size. Make sure to get the smallest size available and check the sizing tables. Full face snorkel masks are not suited for toddlers, even the smallest size will be too big. As with a regular snorkel mask for kids, the mask needs to fit properly in order to create a seal and keep the water out.

Safety of full-face snorkel masks for kids

A word of caution. People often ask if a full face snorkel mask for children is safe. There’s a lot of controversy about that as full face masks have only been on the market a relatively short time and there is no set testing standard. It’s said that CO2 buildup might occur in the mask due to the lack of ventilation. Especially in the case of low-cost full face masks that are made by little-known copycat companies, it’s unclear what research and testing have been done. These might not be safe. It’s important to ensure the fit of the full face mask and the lack of leaks is not a good indicator with full face masks. The breathing part of the mask (the part that looks like an oxygen mask) should seal properly over the nose and mouth so that no air escapes into the seeing part. The way to test this is to put the mask on out of the water and breathe normally. If only the breathing part fogs up this means no air escapes into the rest of the mask. Also, make sure to practice using the mask with your kids in the pool before snorkeling in the ocean.

Swim fins for kids

Kids swim fins are smaller than fins for adults but other than that they’re pretty much the same. There are two types of children’s swimming fins: closed pocket fins or open heel fins. Snorkel fins for kids aren’t essential for snorkeling, they can just use a kids mask and snorkel set. But kids snorkel fins do add to the fun. Our son enjoys snorkeling even more with his toddler fins. Closed pocket fins are usually lighter than open heel fins and are worn with bare feet. In open heeled youth swim fins kids can wear neoprene water shoes, which is great when you’re snorkeling from a rocky beach where the reef starts close to shore.

Best kids snorkel gear comparison table

Best full face snorkel mask for kids comparison table

Why do you need snorkeling gear for kids?

Kids as young as 3 years of age can learn how to snorkel. Some kids, like our son, are naturals. They love the water and can snorkel almost straight away. For other kids, it takes a bit more practice. Even adults can find snorkeling a bit of a challenge at first. But the result is so rewarding. It’s amazing to share the natural colorful underwater wonders with your child.

Children’s snorkel gear is adapted to their smaller size. An adult scuba mask will not fit most kids, it’s too big for their face and will leak. The same goes for swim fins. Kids flippers are available in small kids sizes. They’re also smaller and shorter and require less strength. Children will really have much more fun snorkeling with specially made snorkeling equipment for kids. Of course, there are exceptions. Slightly older kids might have to move to adult snorkel masks as a youth snorkel mask doesn’t fit anymore. Personally, I have a narrow face and a junior scuba mask is simply the best scuba mask for me. Snorkeling gear for kids is available in different sizes, you can get snorkeling gear for toddlers or a youth snorkel set.

What to consider when buying the best snorkel gear for kids

Size & fit of kids snorkel masks

Snorkel sets for kids come in different sizes. A snorkel set for 3 year old will obviously not be the best choice for an 8-year old. The most important item in the set that needs to fit is the kids snorkel mask. If the mask is too big or too small it might leak. And as we’ve said before, with a leaky mask snorkeling isn’t fun at all. So pay close attention to the size and check the brands’ sizing tables. Don’t think they will ‘grow into it’. They might, eventually, but in the mean time they will not enjoy using the mask. A snorkel mask for kids is just a smaller version of an adult scuba mask, but it usually has a narrower silicone skirt to facilitate fit. The first step to check the fit is to make sure the skirt clears the hairline completely. Any hairs trapped between the mask and the skin will cause a leak when submerged. The second step is to place the snorkel mask on your child’s face (clear away any hair) and ask the child to inhale slightly. The mask should stay on without the strap in place. The best snorkel mask for kids is not the most expensive one, but the one with the best fit.

Size & fit of kids swim fins

Kids swim fins also come in different sizes, corresponding with the US shoe sizes. For closed pocket fins, the sizing is obviously more important than for open heel fins. Especially make sure the fins aren’t too small as that might cause a cramp while snorkeling. For closed pocket fins, you might want to consider wearing socks or getting neoprene socks. If the fit isn’t perfect, closed pocket fins might cause blisters on the child’s toes. Open-heeled fins are more forgiving size wise and kids can ‘grow into them’. Please keep in mind that your child will be much more comfortable using open heel fins with water shoes or kids dive boots. This type of swim fins is not made to be worn without footwear.

Color

Size and fit are by far the most important choices. Depending on your children’s age which color your chose may or may not be an issue. I’m not sure why but a snorkeling kit for kids is generally not very gender neutrally colored, especially the full face masks. Very often they just come in pink and blue. Of course, you might just be lucky enough for pink or blue to be your kid’s favorite color (our son loves blue). I have seen some children’s snorkel and mask sets in black, yellow or green, so if you prefer not to have blue or pink you do have some options. But make sure they fit!

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