Snorkel Mask vs Scuba Mask vs Goggles: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: February 21, 2023

It’s important to know the distinction between snorkel masks, scuba masks, and goggles. These are very different products for various uses. But the differences are more than just in the way they look and their names.

Understanding the Difference

difference between snorkel and scuba mask

Snorkel Mask

A snorkel mask has the same basic shape as a scuba or dive mask, with a silicone gasket to provide an airtight seal against your face when you’re wearing it underwater.

A snorkel mask provides a wide field of vision. You can see well immediately above the water even though you’re submerged in it. They’re perfect if you want to take a look around while you’re underwater.

Scuba Mask

Professional divers use scuba masks. While they may look similar, there are differences between the two. Masks for scuba diving are made out of tempered glass, making them more durable.

These will also have a skirt around the edges to prevent water from leaking in through any cracks or gaps that may be present in your skin.


Goggles are used primarily by swimmers. They are usually made from a single piece of plastic and have an elastic strap that goes around your head to keep them secure on your face during swimming sessions.

Are Snorkel Masks the Same as Scuba Masks?

No, snorkel and scuba masks are not the same.

Scuba masks and snorkel masks are similar in many ways. They both cover the same area and have similar features such as a skirt on the outside, straps to hold it in place, lenses to see through, and a nose pocket so you can equalize pressure. But they also have some key differences.

snorkeling mask

Material of Scuba vs Snorkel Masks

The biggest difference is the material used in their construction. Scuba masks are made from tempered glass for superior durability, while snorkeling masks are usually made from plastic or silicone rubber. The material has a noticeable impact on performance underwater.

Plastic or silicone will not withstand significant pressure without cracking or leaking, which makes them unsuitable for diving. Tempered glass can resist enormous pressure without cracking or breaking down, making it perfect for diving.


Another big difference is related to the design of each. Snorkeling masks are designed to offer an excellent vision on the surface and underwater, but they are not suitable for deep dives, where pressure becomes an issue.

A dive mask has a wider skirt around the base because it needs to have an airtight seal around the entire face.

Comfort and Fit

Snorkelers tend to love their masks, because they provide a wide field of view and prevent water from getting into their eyes while they’re in the water. Snorkelers also don’t need to be concerned about leakage or fogging as much as divers do, even when less expensive materials are used in the construction.

Scuba masks are made with higher-quality tempered glass and silicone that’s more durable than what you’ll find on snorkel masks. This means that a diver can better withstand pressure at depth. In addition, they are designed with an air space between your eyes and the lens so that you can easily equalize your ears as needed during your dive.


Masks for snorkeling will cost anywhere from $15 to $60, depending upon the manufacturer and features included. These features include a purge valve for clearing water, fog-free lenses, and camera mount points. These are all great additions if you’re going to be using it for recreational swimming or snorkeling.

Diving masks are generally between $60-$100. This is because they have various added features that make them much safer and more versatile underwater. These added features include things such as buckles that allow you to adjust your mask while it is on your face without pulling it off, double lenses that help prevent leaks, and skirt materials that seal better against your face.

Can You Use a Snorkel Mask for Scuba Diving?

mask for swimming

If you’re a beginner that wants to try diving in shallow waters and don’t want to spend that much money on scuba gear, then a snorkel mask is a good alternative. But there are some limitations. Since they are not designed for deep dives, they can have a limited lifespan when used for diving.

On the other hand, there are several benefits to using a snorkel mask for diving. For example, it’s much more comfortable than regular dive masks, which can be tight and leave marks around your face after long dives.

Can You Use a Dive Mask to Snorkel?

You can use a dive mask to snorkel. The difference is how much air space is inside the mask when it’s on your face. A snorkeling mask provides more air space – allowing for more comfort and less pressure.

The downside is that it will fog up more easily because there’s more moisture in the bigger space. On the other hand, dive masks have less air space, so they will fit tighter to your face providing a clear view but less comfort.

Snorkel Mask vs Goggles

The main difference between snorkel masks and goggles is that a snorkel mask has its own breathing tube (snorkel), whereas goggles do not. This means that swimmers using masks can swim further without coming up for air as often as those using goggles.

Generally speaking, masks are more comfortable because they don’t press against your face so much. Masks create air space around your nose and eyes; goggles are pressed against your skin at all times. Because of this, masks tend to leak less than goggles do as long as they fit properly.

Among the reasons to use googles is better portability than the snorkel or dive mask, and it’s easier to use while being less expensive than both.

Final Thoughts

The differences are pretty much evident at this point. Whether you choose a dive mask, snorkel mask or googles, they all have a similar purpose – eye protection underwater, or in some cases even nose or full face protection. However, each on will work great for its intended use.

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