Can You Snorkel Without Fins?

Last Updated: March 14, 2023

What’s the point of snorkeling if you can’t kick and move around the water with ease? If you’re a beginner swimmer, using fins can help make you a little more productive in the water. But does the same apply to snorkeling?

Do You Need Fins to Snorkel?

Depending on your level of swimming experience you might find yourself needing fins to snorkel with a lot more ease.

Snorkeling with flippers is safer, enhances movement, and reduces physical exertion. Fins are super-efficient and can go a long way in boosting your confidence.

Advantages of Using Fins When Snorkeling

pros of using fins to snorkel

Your snorkeling goal is to experience the fascinating marine life. It is, therefore, prudent to make your adventure worth the effort which is pretty much what fins are all about.

Some of the advantages of wearing fins while snorkeling include:

  • Save energy

You snorkel to enjoy it not to tire yourself. Neither is it a cardio excursion. When you are wearing fins, you are bound to have a better experience. You use less energy.

The flippers enhance your movements and need minimal exertion compared to when you have to swim without them. You can effortlessly pivot to any direction without frantic body movements.

  • Faster

Fins are an extension of your feet that increase the power of your kicks. The thrusts displace more water to propel you further. You are able to cover a larger area in a short time, hence have more adventure.

In case of a weather change or if caught up in a riptide, you can swim faster to safety than you would with bare limbs.

  • Increases buoyancy

Flippers are made from materials that are buoyant. When you are in fins you float in a horizontal position, which is what you need when in the water.

The horizontal posture minimizes the risk of injury when you are in shallow waters or rocky places.

  • Diving

Diving is exciting when you are in fins. The extra effort you exert to dive against buoyancy is a plus to your adventure. You feel like a marine animal that is able to dive effortlessly.

When in fins you can snorkel in the deep waters. The fins will help you to enjoy the underwater marine life that is further than you would go without fins.

  • Efficient

With fins your body movements are minimal and controlled compared to when you are without them. Fish will not run away from you; neither will you be busy kicking up silt, hence muddying the waters.

  • Control

Flippers help you to be in control when snorkeling in strong currents. Some tides are too strong to navigate with bare feet and arms. In such an environment you are better off with fins to maintain control.

If you put on fins, you can control your body movements. You can be still to watch sea life without distractions. However, it takes practice to master such control.

  • Safety

Your safety comes first when you are snorkeling. The sea is unpredictable; a previously calm environment may turn windy and rough in a matter of seconds. You can overcome a rough tide only if you have fins.

  • Photography and sightseeing

If you have an interest in underwater photography, a pair of fins will free your hands to take pictures. It will be easier to be still to take photos or videos. You are also in a position to move from one scenic location to another in a short time.

  • Protection

Snorkeling takes you to an environment that has lots of strange things. There are rocks, glass, rough pebbles and all kinds of dangerous objects. You are vulnerable if your feet are bare.

When you cover your feet with fins you have a layer of protection. You can safely stand up in shallow water without any fear of what is on the sea floor. It is also safer to snorkel near a reef or rocky walls.

Disadvantages of Using Fins When Snorkeling

snorkeling with fins cons

Though snorkeling with fins has many benefits, it also has several disadvantages.

Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Bulkiness

Fins are bulky and difficult to pack. They take up much space in your travel bags. It is cumbersome to drag around the snorkel gear by hand during your expedition.

  • Cost

Though fins are not expensive, it is still an expense. Once you make the purchase you might still have to incur extra costs, e.g. for cleaning the fins. You also have to get a pair of neoprene socks.

  • Uncomfortable

Flippers are quite uncomfortable when you wear them for the first time. Then when you gear up to snorkel, you have to walk backwards to avoid flipping on the blades. When in the water, you navigate carefully to protect the sea life.

  • Damage the corals

Fins are likely to kick sediment that can cover the corals and damage them. If you are in wide or long fins, you run the risk of accidently breaking the corals. A persistent damage of the aquatic natural life may upset the ecosystem.

  • Accidents

If you have large flippers, you might accidently hurt other snorkelers when in a crowded spot. Since most of the times you are engrossed on the underwater life, you might not notice a nearby buddy, hence scratch them when you move.

  • Sizing/Fitting

You can only be comfortable if your flippers are a perfect-fit. Ill-fitting fins are as uncomfortable as a pair of shoes in wrong sizes. If you opt to buy your gear from an online store, it is a difficult process to get the right size.

How to Use Fins When Snorkeling

If you plan to wear fins when snorkeling, you have to decide the appropriate time to wear them.

They are difficult to walk in, especially for beginners. If you put them on while on land, you have to waddle backwards. You walk backwards to avoid tripling on the long blades.

Some snorkelers only prefer to wear the fins in the water to avoid the difficult walk.

Remember, fins are not for speed or powerful thrusts as snorkeling is not a competitive sport. For maximum efficiency, be gentle and fluid in your motions.

The two common snorkeling kicks are:

  • Frog kicks: It is the most efficient kicking technique and a must-know for every snorkeler. It is the best skill for control when in fins. Frog kicks are similar to the whip kicks used in breastroke.
  • Flutter kicks: It is the go-to technique for beginners and casual snorkelers. It is the first kick you learn in the first swimming lesson. You move your legs up and down in short and rapid strokes to propel yourself.

How to Snorkel Without Fins

how to snorkel without fins

There are many reasons as to why you would opt to snorkel without fins. Maybe you have an unexpected holiday at a place where you cannot access a pair of flippers. Or maybe it is just a one-off adventure that you would like to cross off your list.

Consider the following before you embark on the exploit.

1. Do some research

It is advisable you first do a thorough research of the area you would like to snorkel without fins. Get the opinion of the lifeguards of the location. Pay attention to their advice, they have experiential knowledge.

2. Do not panic

Be calm to save your energy. If you get nervous, you can make bad decisions or get exhausted. Swim calmly and at a pace that you can breathe comfortably through the snorkel.

3. Practice in a safe location

Before you get in the water for a snorkeling expedition without fins, practice in a safe spot such as a swimming pool. Learn how to kick and explore under the water without flippers. Train your body endurance so that you can snorkel for a considerable length of time.

4. Snorkel when the weather is calm

It is wise to only snorkel without fins when the weather is calm. Strong currents can easily drag you into the ocean even when you are at a shallow place. It is difficult to enter or exit from the waters when the waves are high and strong. Snorkeling in the morning is best and when the sea is usually calm.

Can You Snorkel with Freediving Fins?

Yes, you can technically snorkel with freediving fins. However, the fins are inconvenient since they are specialized for deeper dives and cold waters. Snorkelers swim in warm tropical waters, hence can do with fins that have closed heels.

Related: SCUBA Fins vs. Snorkeling Fins: What’s the Difference?

Freediving fins have inflexible foot pockets to accommodate the booties and maximize thrust. The fins have open-heels to slide in the booties. The straps of the foot pockets are made to adjust to the changes of pressure as you dive deeper.

So, Is it Better to Snorkel With or Without Flippers?

It is definitely better to snorkel with flippers. You derive many benefits than when without. Regardless, you can still snorkel without the flippers, it too has some advantages. It depends on your circumstances.

You snorkel to experience the rich aquatic life under the waters. If you want to enjoy the adventure, wear fins. Snorkeling without fins should be a one-off exploit. If you do so often, the drawbacks may decrease your passion for snorkeling.

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