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B.Y.O….mask and snorkel

Vol. II, No. 77

Set your kids up for snorkeling success! Quality gear that fits will make all the difference. Photo by Allen Clark /

Perhaps you’re planning a warm getaway this winter, and it’s time to start gearing up.  Think beyond the new bikinis and resort-wear.  If you take boat- or beach-based trips with any frequency, consider this: The most under-appreciated piece of tropical vacation equipment that you should own, not rent or borrow, is a mask and snorkel.

If you’ve borrowed snorkeling gear in the past, or bought a $20 pre-packaged set that you did not try on, you’ve probably experienced the leaking, fogging, scratching, breaking or other frustrations that many people associate with the equipment, and subsequently, with snorkeling. But it doesn’t need to be that way!  If you invest in a good quality mask that fits you properly, you’ll see a whole new world when you put your head in the water.  And if your kids aren’t taking to underwater breathing, consider whether their equipment could be sabotaging their experiences.  A properly fitting mask that your child is comfortable wearing could save the experience for him or her.

The best place to buy a good mask is a dive shop.  The staff will help you make sure it fits your face properly to avoid leaking.  And they won’t sell you the cheap plastic lenses that fog up quickly.  I’ve had my mask for 10 years, and all of the stress-free snorkeling has been well-worth the $70 I spent.

Oh, but when it comes to fins, no need to lug those on the plane. I find fins just fine to rent!