Ever since our eldest learnt to swim without a floating device in the pool he's wanted to snorkel. We initially got some snorkel gear for kids from the local supermarket in the area we were staying but quickly discovered that it wasn't up to much. So when we planned our trips to the British Virgin Islands and to Mexico we decided it was time to get the right gear for snorkelling with kids.
What Snorkel Gear Do Kids Need?
Our snorkel trips were never going to be a fun day in the pool or along the beach.
Most of our family trips where we will take the kit will be off exploring reefs, chasing turtles or heading off from the back of a boat.
So we needed the 3 bits - mask, snorkel and fins.
Where to Buy Snorkel Kits for Kids
Now, most can be bought in snorkel sets for kids from shops like JD Sports in the UK.
We did try those after the local supermarket set and again they really didn't fit very well. Whether our kids just have small faces or the sets are too average I'm not sure but they leaked around the kid's faces and whilst swimming the snorkel would easily get filled with water.
So instead we visited our local dive shop and got the kids fitted with a high-quality mask, snorkel with a splash guard and fins that actually fitted their feet properly and wouldn't blister as they didn't rub.
Why We went with a Set instead of a Full Face Snorkel mask
So in the time since both my husband and I snorkelled as kids equipment has changed and one of the things that we considered was a full face snorkel mask for the kids.
I'd seen Cathy's daughter from Mummy Travels wearing one over on Instagram and you can read here a short review of a full face snorkel mask on her site it's under the history hero book reviews.
However, for us where our kids both want to learn to dive it made more sense going for a junior snorkel set that was able to be used for scuba diving as well.
It was a good move especially 2 years later the mask and snorkel still fit, the youngest has handed down her fins to the eldest (she's bigfoot!) and she's got new fins and pretty soon they will start their PADI courses to learn to Scuba Dive as our local dive shop and centre takes them from the age of 8!
Choosing the Right Gear For Your Child
There are lots of scuba shops around the country and we would recommend if you can visit one of these.
Yes, the gear is more expensive but it will last and the experience of snorkelling underwater will be much more enjoyable for your kids and also for you.
Fitting the Mask to Your Child's Face
The first thing to make sure is that you fit the mask correctly to your child's face.
Place the mask on your child's face and ask them to breathe in through their nose. When you remove your hand the mask should stay in place.
With a silicone skirt around the mask, this prevents the air from going out and the water coming in. With both kids, we have to make sure that their hair isn't in the mask otherwise they will leak.
It's also important that they have an adjustable strap. Between trips, our kids have grown but their face shape hasn't changed that much. However, we have needed to adjust the straps.
Picking a Snorkel That Works
The snorkel is probably the most important piece and with kids that have small mouths, you really do need to get one that works for them.
We tried out a couple but both kids settled on the same one.
It has a valve where the kids can expel water with a puff and also a splash guard. It's a little flap at the top that prevents water from coming in if there is a wave or a splash.
My own snorkel has this as well, but I found it affected how I could breathe so I actually removed the little flap. My kids and Jez find it fine to use and their snorkels still have it in place.
Many years ago my own snorkel has a hard rubber mouthpiece and a number of times after long snorkels I would end up with sores inside my mouth. Luckily they have moved on a lot in the years and having a soft mouthpiece is essential.
But as I said do try and make sure that it is comfortable and provides a seal to stop the water coming into their mouths.
Fins are a really personal choice. My husband loves his open heel with an adjustable buckle that he then wears a boot within.
I prefer a full heel that means less stuff to take and although not great for scuba it's perfect for a snorkel trip.
The kids had both options and like me went for a fin with a closed heel.
When fitting we made sure that their heels didn't slip but there was a small amount of room in front of their toes which would allow them to get good use out of the gear for a couple of trips or more.
Which Gear Did we Choose for our Snorkel Trips
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Although as we said above we bought our gear from our Local Dive Shop - Galaxsea Divers in Ipswich you can get the same gear online we've provided links below to the equipment we got on Amazon. However, we really do recommend if you are serious about snorkelling as a family then you go and get the gear fitted for all of you.
Both kids have the Cressi Mini Dry Snorkel in different colours. It was their pick of the colours but when in our mesh bag full of snorkel gear on the boat or boot of the car it certainly makes it easier to spot and pick them out.
As I said above both kids decided to go for full foot fins. So we bought Cressi Kids Rondinella for them both. We've been really impressed with them and the kids have gone off for hours wearing them and not complained once about rubbing or that they are uncomfortable.
I hope that helps you pick gear that means you can all enjoy your next trip where you snorkel together. If you do have any questions why not ask in the comments snorkelling is one of our favourite ways to explore as a family when we travel.