Learning How to Use Snorkeling Fins

By Mark – (Utah)
Is there training I can do or a trick to learning how to use snorkeling fins that I am missing?

You strongly recommend using fins and the sets that we have purchased at Costco come with open foot fins. However, I have never been able to get used to having big clunky things on my feet. Today I tried to use them in a swimming pool and I had a hard time going straight while kicking fins.

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Galen & Nicole – Mar 27, 2011 – How to Use Snorkel Fins

Hi Mark, good question. We highly recommend fins because they greatly increase the safety factor when snorkeling. They enable you to move much easier through the water. If there was never any current or waves or wind, that would not be such a big deal, but Nicole and I have many times tried to swim without fins in those conditions and found it nearly impossible. In fact we are so used to fins that when we don’t have them on swimming we find ourselves laughing at how hard it is to get anywhere.

With experience and good fins you can power through a lot of situations and get yourself out of trouble. You will also not get as tired on longer swims with fins.

There is another reason we highly recommend wearing fins when you snorkel. If you aren’t wearing them, you will likely need to swim with your arms and this flailing of the arms is going to scare away the creatures you are trying to get close to.

Now, as for your question. How to use snorkel fins?

You can choose from a few different types of fins. Learn how to choose the right fins for you here.

The motion you need to make with your legs is slow and in a large radius. Keep your kicking fairly slow. And do most of the work with your bigger leg muscles, up in your thigh and butt, bending your knees. Let your lower calf and foot muscles stay a bit more relaxed. Let the fin do the work.

Without being there or knowing what fins you have, it is hard to say why you are having trouble going straight. Make sure your fins are put on correctly and are both pointing straight ahead. Maybe you have one leg a little stronger than the other? When I was a kid skateboarding I used to have one leg that was way bigger than the other from kicking on one side only. Yep, I was pretty funny looking.

Keep at it and just bring a lot of awareness to your body. I am sure you will figure it out. It won’t take long for you to get comfortable in the water with fins. If all else fails, it could be your fins, if you bought a cheap set. If you continue to have problems try another pair.

Have fun!

Shonisaurus – Mar 1, 2018 – How to Use Fins

I can totally relate. I am used to using just my feet when snorkeling, just with mask and snorkel. The other week I tried to snorkel wearing fins. I found it extremely difficult to maneuver around in them. For three left feet like myself, would a pair of snorkeling boots/shoes work as an alternative? Thanks.

Nicole & Galen – Mar 1, 2018 – Answer for Shonisaurus

Hi, snorkeling boots or shoes are really only for protecting your feet on entry and exit. They have no thrust of their own that will help you like fins when you need some thrust. Sorry.

MJ – Jun 6, 2019 – Newbie Snorkeler

I have been snorkeling exactly ONCE (Rose Island, Bahamas) last February and it was lovely. 🙂

However, I couldn’t get the hang of fins, and ended up going without. I am a fairly strong swimmer, and prefer a frog kick or breast stroke so it didn’t really bother me to be without fins until the swim back to the boat, against the current. I’m guessing the “float belt” required by the tour contributed to my struggle as well, but nothing to be done about that.

I am going again to the Bahamas in January, and would love to do the same snorkeling boat excursion, but started to look up some fin alternatives that I might be able to use more easily than the fins provided by the tour. I noticed there were “micro” fins and something that looked more like a boot that are only a few inches longer than the foot; would this be helpful in my situation?

I’m probably only going to be an occasional snorkeler, so nothing too expensive, and must definitely be easy to travel with. Both snorkel trips will be while in port from a cruise, so packing light is a must.

Thank you in advance!

Nicole & Galen – Jun 8, 2019 – Fins for Snorkeling

Hello MJ, well, not knowing what kind of fins you were using and what issues you were having with them it is difficult to answer your question.

The very short swim fins and boot-style fins have very little thrust and will not help you much when there is a current to get through, so we generally don’t recommend them.

For fitting in your luggage, you could consider the Scubapro Go Fins (on Amazon), but they are not inexpensive. The least expensive, not too large, and most comfortable fins are made entirely of rubber, like the Finis Floating Fins (on Amazon).

Hope that helps.

1 Comment

  1. For serious swimmers, I can recommend learning and practicing the so-called combat side stroke (CSS for short). It is the Navy Seals’ stroke that transitions readily to fins for power and control. It works for Cressi Agua Fins almost as well as it does for long rocket fins. It is stealth stroke, largely underwater, fast or slow, and it great for snorkeling along the edge of a reef. It does take practice and experience to make fins feel like a part of your body!


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