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So, should you rent or buy snorkeling gear? That’s the question I queried most when planning my first snorkeling excursion.   When it comes to snorkeling equipment, the only essential pieces are a snorkel and a mask. However, I highly recommend you also wear fins, a well-fitted floatation device, and maybe a rash guard for protection from the sun’s Ultraviolet rays.  


Snorkeling is a great activity to observe, feel, and interact with the fascinating underwater world. It is popular, easy to learn, and lets you explore the mysterious underwater world. In addition, unlike diving or swimming, you don’t need any professional skills to experience snorkeling.  


Snorkeling underwater in the open sea

Snorkeling underwater in the open sea


However, most people live far away from coastal areas, or even if you are close to a beach, the site may not be appropriate for snorkeling. Additionally, snorkeling is also often seen as occasional water activity. So, the question is, should you rent or buy snorkel gear?  


Each option has its advantages and drawbacks, so many snorkelers prefer combining both. So, rather than guessing what’s suitable for you, I will list some pros and cons of buying vs. renting the snorkeling gear. It will help you make the wisest decision based on your individual preferences and needs.  


Below, we will discuss why you should buy your snorkeling equipment. Remember that even if a couple of these points apply, you should consider having your snorkeling gear.  


· You Snorkel More Frequently


If you want to snorkel regularly, buying your snorkeling equipment is beneficial and fun. For instance, if you rent snorkeling gear, you will want to ensure that everything is well-fitted, especially your snorkeling masks. Remember, we all have different body physiques, and renting snorkeling equipment is not a one-fit-for-all.  


Kids on the beach with snorkeling gear

Kids on the beach with snorkeling gear


In addition to that, for frequent snorkel adventures, renting the gear can cost a lot. For instance, if you are vacationing for two weeks and want to experience snorkeling every day, rental snorkeling equipment can cost up to $100 or even more. So, instead of spending $100 or more on rental fees, why not just buy your gear?  


Moreover, we don’t know your exact individual needs and how often you want to snorkel. So, I recommend you quickly search for rental and buying costs in your vacation area. It will help you determine the most economical option.  


· You Already Know What to Expect from the Gear


Before renting the snorkeling equipment, you don’t know what you will get. Besides getting the well-fitted snorkeling gear, ensuring it has features you want, how comfortable it feels, and ease of use are also equally important factors.  


For instance, the rental dive shop has open-top snorkels only, but you want a semi-dry snorkel. Or let’s say you are looking for a full face mask, but the rental shop has traditional masks only. So, having something you are not used to can distract and ruin your experience, especially if you are a first-time snorkeler.  


Colorful diving gear

Colorful diving gear


In contrast, by buying the best snorkel gear for beginners, you will have peace of mind, knowing everything is according to your expectation. Additionally, the gear will be well-fitted, comfortable, and have all the desired features. Another plus point of having your gear is there will be no learning curve because you already know how to use it.  


Furthermore, while you can rent or buy snorkel gear according to your needs, it is highly likely that rental equipment might ruin your snorkeling experience. Rentals are more prone to leakage, and water can sneak into the snorkel, making you swallow the water.  


· Quality of the Snorkel Gear


Choosing the best snorkel gear for beginners can be challenging, especially if you are a first-time snorkeler. Sometimes, rental snorkeling equipment can be cheap and flimsy, made of brittle plastic. This type of snorkel gear can be very uncomfortable, especially the snorkel and mask. Additionally, if you are renting low-quality fins, you will be struggling to propel yourself.  


snorkeling gear, snorkeling equipment

Snorkeling equipment


Moreover, renting snorkeling gear means you will have almost no control over the quality of the gear. For example, let’s take the snorkeling mask. Is it made of cheap quality plastic? Can the straps keep it secured on your face while you are in the water? Are the lenses scratched? These and many other factors can significantly reduce your snorkeling experience.  


On the flip side, if you buy snorkeling gear, you can be sure about the quality. The peace of mind you’ll have can significantly improve your snorkeling experience.  


· You Need Prescription Lenses


Snorkelers who require glasses to see should remember that you cannot wear snorkel masks with glasses. However, with prescription lenses, you can explore the underwater world. That said, you will need to replace the regular mask lenses with the ones you use to accommodate your vision. Additionally, while you can rent snorkel masks with prescription lenses, there are a few limitations.  


Prescription Lenses

Prescription Lenses


For instance, what will you do if the dive shop doesn’t have the rental prescription lenses you need? Or, what if you need different lenses for your left and right eye? Moreover, what if the dive shop doesn’t have prescription lenses at all?   That’s why the best option is to buy your snorkeling gear. Remember that you want to experience snorkeling so you can see the underwater life; for that, you will need suitable prescription lenses for enhanced vision.  


Furthermore, contact lenses are the cheapest and most convenient option to eliminate prescription mask problems.  


· You Have the Budget to Afford


While it is easy to argue whether to rent or buy snorkel gear, not everyone has the same budget, which is the biggest constraint. If money is not an issue, you won’t be reading this long article. Instead, you can buy it because you want the best snorkel gear.  


However, remember that snorkel equipment doesn’t cost a fortune. Getting the best snorkel gear for beginners is not cheap, especially if you want a prescription mask instead of contact lenses.  


Snorkeling kit on the shore

Snorkeling kit on the shore


Moreover, if you have a limited budget but still want to buy high-quality snorkeling gear, you can look for the starter pack of the best snorkel gear for beginners. After using it for a couple of months, you can easily upgrade each piece of equipment. Furthermore, if you want to save on costs a little more, you can buy used gear or wait for a discount.  


Reasons Why You Should Rent Snorkeling Equipment

Now let’s discuss the advantages of rental snorkeling gear:  


· You Aren’t Sure If You Like Snorkeling.


Apart from the “rent or buy snorkel gear” discussion, there is a third option; you can rent first for testing and then buy your snorkeling equipment later.  


However, for first-time snorkelers, renting first is a wise idea. After all, it would be a shame to buy a complete set of snorkeling gear upfront only to realize you hate snorkeling. Or, you might not want to purchase snorkeling gear because you find the activity boring. Whatever the reason is, renting first is always a solid idea.  


Moreover, regardless of where you are vacationing, if there are dive shops, they will let you rent masks, snorkels, and fins. You can also rent floatation devices, water suits, and other essential accessories you need for snorkeling. In simple words, availability is not an issue whether you rent or buy the best snorkel gear for beginners. Furthermore, another benefit of renting is that you can test different types of equipment. For instance, if the dive shop has the latest models, you can try them out before upgrading your own equipment.  


· You Snorkel Less Frequently


Another factor that can help you whether you rent or buy snorkel gear is your snorkeling routine. For instance, if you only vacation once a year and that is the only time you experience snorkeling, then it would be best to rent snorkeling equipment. Additionally, having your own snorkeling gear can still be worth it even if you don’t snorkel often, but renting is more attractive.  


Moreover, people living in a landlocked state may find it hard to purchase snorkeling gear due to the lack of snorkeling spots. Similarly, states like Hawaii, California, Florida, and many other coastal states have great snorkeling spots. So, people living in these states will have plenty of opportunities to snorkel than those who wait for their annual snorkeling trips.  


That said, if you think you love snorkeling and want to spend most of your time on vacation, you should consider purchasing your own snorkeling equipment. However, if you intend to snorkel once a year or once in your lifetime to scratch off your bucket list item, it would be best to stick to the rental equipment.  


· You Have a Small Budget


Another solid reason why one should consider rental snorkeling gear has a strict budget. Sometimes, many of us don’t have enough income to spend thousands on getting a complete set of snorkeling gear. However, if you love snorkeling and it’s your biggest passion, I strongly recommend buying your own snorkeling equipment, even if you are strapped on cash.   Moreover, rental equipment allows you to enjoy snorkeling without spending much. In the meantime, you can save a few hundred bucks for the moment when you can outright buy your own gear. In addition, keep in mind that the best snorkel gear for beginners is not cheap, especially when you have underwater photography or scuba diving gear.  


· You Don’t Want to Carry Extra Weight


Transportation could be another deciding factor when thinking about whether to rent or buy snorkel gear. For example, renting snorkeling gear from a shop next to the beach can easily take the equipment with you. However, buying your own snorkeling equipment can be different, especially if you are vacationing with your family and all the carrying depends on you.  


In addition to that, packing could be another issue. What if you are heading to a tropical snorkeling spot by air and don’t want to take up much space in your luggage? Depending on how long you want to stay there and how many things you want to carry, think about whether you have enough room in your luggage.  


Moreover, your gear can occupy more space depending on how long your snorkeling fins are and whether you are traveling alone or with your family. Furthermore, consider who will carry all the gear and whether you are ready to take extra weight.  


So, instead of stressing about what items you should carry, you can remove the burden by renting snorkeling equipment from a dive shop. Additionally, renting snorkel gear will also eliminate the risk of losing your gear or damaging it while traveling.  


· You’re On a Trip Where You Can Rent Snorkeling Equipment


Yet another reason why you wouldn’t want to buy your own snorkeling gear is that you are a part of a guided snorkeling tour or a snorkeling safari. Depending on the operators, while some guided snorkeling tours offer rental gear, remember that some still require you to bring your own snorkeling equipment.  


However, most snorkel excursions you go with will provide you with snorkels, masks, fins, and a floatation device. Unless you already have your own snorkeling gear, renting equipment means you don’t have to deal with transportation woes. Moreover, if you want to experience snorkeling only once in your lifetime, you should avoid buying any equipment. You can easily rent what a dive shop provides.


Pros and Cons

Renting Snorkeling Equipment


Pros Cons
You don’t have to lift your equipment around when vacationing. Finding equipment according to your needs may be challenging, especially the mask that fits your face.
There’s no need to spend thousands so you can enjoy snorkeling. It’s challenging to be sure about the sanitization process of a rental business.
There’s no need to maintain or wash rental gear on the beach. The gear may not be in the best shape and used roughly.
Having your own gear means you don’t have to go pre-trip shopping. You might wonder who used that wet suit before you and why it smells funky.


Buying Snorkeling Equipment


Buying Snorkeling Gear
Pros Cons
You can be sure about the quality of the equipment and that it fits properly. Buying the complete set of snorkeling gear can be far more expensive, especially if you snorkel less frequently.
There’s no need to worry about sanitization because you won’t have to guess who had that mask or snorkel before you. You will have to carry your snorkel equipment around. If you have less space in your luggage, your gear could take place for other essential items.
You will have the time to find appropriate snorkeling gear before your trip. Buying your equipment requires you to spend time finding proper and well-fit gear.
You can experience snorkeling whenever you want, knowing you have the gear ready with you. You will also have to maintain, wash, and dry your equipment.


List of Snorkeling Equipment

Here is the complete list of essential snorkeling gear that you will need for a comfortable, safe, and memorable snorkeling excursion:


Canvas and Snorkel

Canvas and Snorkel




Mask is one of the most critical items for a snorkeling excursion. You should take time and find a diving mask that fits your face correctly. When you suction it to your face without straps, make sure the mask should stay put. If you notice any air leakage, consider replacing the mask.  


Anti-Fog Spray or Gel




Getting your mask fogged up when you are in the water is common. However, using a goggle defogger can help prevent fogging. When buying an anti-fogging spray, choose one that is non-toxic,  alcohol-free, and biodegradable. It will ensure keeping the reefs and their inhabitants safe.




Snorkeling is another essential item. Its mouthpiece is one of the most critical items when choosing a suitable and comfortable snorkel. Make sure it feels comfortable so you can enjoy the experience. Moreover, look for a snorkel with a “purge valve .”The feature helps to release the water from inside the snorkel and prevent it from entering the snorkel.  


Bandana or Swim Cap


A swim cap or bandana is one of the best snorkel gear for beginners. It helps you keep your hair out of the snorkel while protecting your scalp from the sun’s UV rays on a sunny day. Moreover, the surgical caps can be a great alternative to a snorkeling bandana because the ties protect them from slipping off.  


Floatation Device


Floating devices are great for safety, especially if you are not a good swimmer. These devices are also one of the most critical snorkeling equipment that boosts buoyancy and eliminates any nervousness.  




While wetsuits are great for protection from stingy particles in the water, they also help prevent sunburns, keep you warm in colder conditions, and provide more buoyancy. Watersuits with short sleeves and leggings are great for slightly cooler waters than you could snorkel comfortably.


guy in a wetsuit with snorkeling gear

Guy in a wetsuit with snorkeling gear

Rash Guard


You can also have a rash guard as an alternative to a wetsuit. Not only will it help you prevent the sun’s UV rays, but it will also protect stinging bits.  




Short-term fins are a good option whether you are an experienced snorkeler or a first-timer. They are lightweight, easy to kick, and help you move your direction in the water. However, if you want to experience diving, longer fins can be a good option because they allow you to swim fast and deeper.  


So, What’s the Final Decision? Should You Buy or Rent Snorkeling Gear?


So, should you buy or rent snorkel gear? After comparing the pros and cons, I decided to buy a set of the best snorkel gear for beginners. Moreover, having your snorkeling gear means you don’t have to worry about unsterilized equipment. However, if you still prefer renting, rent a full face mask, snorkel, and fins only.


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