Last Updated: April 20, 2023
Snorkeling and swimming have a lot in common. Both are water activities that give you an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of marine life. However, much as they are closely related, they are also miles apart in terms of techniques used, gear, and safety concerns.
So, can you snorkel with swimming goggles? The answer is yes, but it’s not advisable because swimming goggles and snorkeling masks are meant for two totally different roles. Switching one for the other might not always be a good idea.
Swimming goggles are designed to keep water out of your eyes and also serve as a barrier between your eyes and the water which may be salty or chlorinated.
Snorkeling masks, on the other hand, are designed for optimal underwater visibility and free breathing. They work best when linked to a j-tube which should always remain above the surface of the water for unrestricted breathing.
Swim goggles are quite limited in this regard. They are solely meant for swimming and often come with fewer features than their snorkeling counterparts.
Snorkeling Mask vs Swim Goggles – The Differences
In a world where you can find an endless selection of snorkeling masks and swimming goggles, it can be challenging to make a buying decision. The two pieces of equipment are designed for different purposes, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.
Here are some key differences between a snorkel mask and swimming goggles.
The biggest difference is that snorkel masks are designed to help you see underwater. Swim goggles are just meant to keep water out of your eyes.
Snorkeling masks have a flat lens that fits right over your eyes, while swim goggles have curved lenses that sit on your face and above your eyes. This means that snorkel masks block any light from entering the top of your eye socket, which helps prevent fogging up inside the mask. Swim goggles don’t seal as tightly around your eyes as snorkel masks do, so they’re more likely to fog up if you spend too much time in the water.
Dealing with Water Pressure
As you get deeper, the water pressure can cause discomfort. Dealing with this is where a snorkel mask is a clear winner. It can withstand more pressure due to its sturdier buid and lenses. You can also equalize the pressure because the snorkel mask covers your nose too.
With swim goggles, you cannot do this. The pressure will only keep increasing around your eyes.
Attaching a Snorkel Tube
Snorkeling masks have an inside-out design that allows you to breathe through a mouthpiece that’s typically provided as part of the gear. Swim goggles, on the other hand, are designed so that you can only breathe through your nose when your head is completely above the water surface.
This means that if you want to snorkel using goggles, you may need to purchase extra gear and accessories for your mission to be successful.
Both are designed to keep water from your eyes. As such, they come with watertight seals. However, in terms of resilience, snorkel masks are way ahead of goggles.
You see, snorkeling masks are designed to not only protect your eyes but also handle the extra weight of the breathing tube (and other accessories). Unfortunately, swimming glasses aren’t built with that in mind meaning if you attach a breathing tube to them, for instance, you’re likely to compromise the quality of the seal.
Snorkeling masks are typically larger than swim goggles and fit over the entire face, from the nose down to the chin (some may also cover part of the forehead).
Swim goggles are smaller and sit on top of the eyes only, leaving room for breathing through your mouth or nose whenever you’re above the surface. This makes them ideal for water sports like surfing and swimming laps in a pool.
Reasons to Wear Swim Goggles
There are a lot of reasons to wear swim goggles. First, they protect your eyes from salt water and the sun. They also keep your hair out of your face so you can see well.
Here are some other reasons why you should wear goggles.
You Have Prescription Lenses
Whether you’re snorkeling or swimming, wearing goggles will protect your eyes from salt water. And if you normally use glasses to see, the good news is that you can always find prescription lenses on sale at relatively affordable prices.
Managing Your Facial Hair
You might have to shave your beard or mustache, so the mask fits better, but that might affect your overall look. Swim goggles provide a much better alternative for those who want to keep their appearance intact while still being able to enjoy the water safely.
It’s Cost Saving
Goggles are much cheaper than snorkels, especially if you want high-quality ones. You only need to spend around 10 bucks to buy a decent pair of swimming goggles. These will last for years, and they’ll make sure that water doesn’t get into your eyes while you’re exploring the ocean floor or lake bed.
Why Wearing Swim Goggles for Snorkeling is a Bad Idea
No doubt, snorkeling is a great way to enjoy the underwater world. However, doing it with your swimming goggles as opposed to your mask might not always be a great idea.
The goggles might not be ideal for deep dives that have you diving well beyond 10 meters under the water. Swim goggles are meant to be used near the surface of the water and going too deep under can cause them to cave in to pressure and possibly even damage your eyes.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, attaching snorkeling gear such as the breathing tube on goggles can compromise the quality of their seal. So, if you need the convenience of a breathing tube, you’re better off using a snorkel mask.
A mask sits directly over your eyes and nose and has a low-profile design that reduces drag as much as possible while still providing an excellent field of vision.
How to Attach Snorkel to Swimming Goggles
Most snorkels come with an attachment that allows you to slide in or clip the goggles’ strap in place. Doesn’t your come with such a feature? Worry not, you can always buy a universal mask attachment clip (or silicone snorkel keeper), and use it for that purpose.
Another way to attach a snorkel to goggles is through a ring that is typically in some goggles’ straps. In that case, you will simply need to slide the snorkel into place.
Not all straps need to be attached to goggles or masks to work, though. Some come with their own straps. In that case, you’ll simply need to wear the strap on your head and have it alongside the strap from your goggles.
Can You Wear Swim Goggles Under a Snorkel Mask?
You can, but it is not recommended. Wearing swimming goggles under a snorkel mask creates an opening between the two. This creates a situation where you can potentially lose your mask underwater because of the air pocket. There is also the possibility that water will enter your goggles and cause them to fog up.
My unbounded love for the oceans and everything it has to offer motivated me to pursue my passion and become a professional scuba diving instructor.
I keep reading, exploring, and learning more about scuba diving and the underwater world all the time, so I’m excited to share my knowledge with fellow scuba enthusiasts and hopefully contribute a little to your development as a diver. I want people to fall in love with the oceans with as much passion as I have. Read more about me here.