Updated January - 2020
You will need a night snorkeling light to check out the sea life that comes out after dark, but deciding on which one to buy can be tricky without a bit of experience. Below we share what lights we use, as well as a number of other suggested torches that are well regarded. A night snorkel can be fun with a good snorkeling flashlight, and scary with a bad one.
As you get into this you are going to wonder how much power (lumens) your light should have for snorkeling? And what beam angle is best? What about if you want to take pictures using the light? And what battery type is best? We answer all of those questions and more further down this page below the lights.
Note: Our suggestions come from hands-on experience. We hope you find them helpful. You can help us if you purchase from the links below. We may make a small commission, from Amazon or other companies, at no extra cost to you. Thank you.
The Tovatec Fusion 1050 is a wonderful night snorkeling light. We own two older versions of this light, the 530 (pictured at right) and the 1000 (pictured below). We love the 530 for its size, but found the 1000 to be too big and heavy. With the new Fusion 1050, you get over 1000 lumens in the smaller body. Perfect!
We really like this line of lights because they can zoom from a 12° beam angle out to 100°. The 12° beam is good at cutting through cloudy water a long ways, and when zoomed out from about 60-100°, it becomes better as a fill light for taking pictures and videos, and for seeing more of what is around you. Great versatility in one light.
These are very high quality lights, with many nice features. There are 30%, 50%, and 100% power settings and an emergency strobe setting, using the thumb powered magnetic switch. The battery compartments have double o-rings. They have an automatic pressure relief valve that is a safety feature in case of battery malfunction.
The 1050 includes a commonly available and rechargeable CR18650 lithium battery.
If there is any small downside to this light, it is that the light evenness is not perfect for taking pictures with. It has some hot spots and rings, but is pretty even at its wide setting.
They also offer a Fusion 1500 lumen version, that is physically larger in diameter, length, battery size and overall weight. It is the same size as our old 1000 lumen model. You can see the difference in size below. We find the larger light just too big and heavy to be comfortable putting a pair of them in our luggage. The other problem we found with the larger light was that the spring tension on the battery cover was so strong that it is hard to get the threads started on the cap. We would stick with the 1050 model if traveling with it.
The Volador 1000 lumen light is very affordable for what you get. It has a tight 9° spot beam, which means it will shine out a long ways in murky water, and it has lower power settings. It is not the best choice if you want to use it to take pictures with, because of how tight the beam is.
It runs off an included rechargeable CR 18650 lithium battery.
Volador is an obscure Chinese company, but they seem to be growing in popularity. We have seen a number of snorkelers and who say they liked it.
If you don't want to spend a bunch, and don't mind a very narrow spot beam light, this is a good option. Note that this light is only designed to be used underwater, because it will overheat in the air.
We just bought a GoBe 1000 Wide Beam, which is a compact night snorkeling light, with a 60° wide angle beam. Its beam is void of any hotspots or hard edges, suitable for taking pictures and videos with. We will test it on our next trip in February 2020, but so far we really like this light. Sign up for our newsletter to read the full review.
This light has many unique features. First, it is very small, and fits right into your palm, yet it puts out 1000 lumens on its high setting.Yet the battery in this small body is actually larger in capacity than the popular CR18650 lithium used in many lights like our Tovatec.
It is based on a modular design. You can switch out the light head with other options, like a 800 lumen 12° spot light, although you cannot switch them underwater.
It has an integrated and sealed battery compartment to reduce flooding potential. To charge it you just slide the included USB clip cord over the end. We really like how compact that charger is. We charge many things on our trips via USB, so this fits right in.
The light has multiple power
levels. If you leave it on its highest setting, the battery only lasts 90 minutes, which is the biggest downside of this torch. But on lower power settings it will last much longer, which you would likely use much of the time, because 1000 lumens is very bright.
You can use this light out of the water because it has cooling vents. And that may be one of the advantages to the changeable heads. You may want to use a wide or spot head underwater, but then use a different head as a bicycle headlight, or for some other purpose.
If you love night snorkeling and taking pictures and videos, consider the Sola Dive 800. It is a high end, compact, technical light best used on the included wrist strap, setting your hands free. It has both an 800 lumen 60° wide setting, and a 500 lumen 12° spot, with multiple power levels on each. It's also available in a 1200 lumen and a blindingly bright 2500 lumen version. It's a great light for anyone who does photography and or video at night.
We have used these lights. The downside of these units is the battery life. The 800 only lasts 70 minutes on high. And they are pretty expensive compared to other options on this page. We are also not overly fond of the charging cord system. It's a bit bulky and they take a long time to charge.
BigBlue has a number of 450 lumen lights that are very compact and affordable, and run off AAA batteries.
They also have a new zooming version, the CF450-II, that is also a 450 lumen light. You can adjust the beam from a tight 7° to a wider 37° beam. That would be an interesting light to test out.
BigBlue is well respected for quality underwater lights at good prices. We own and used the previous version of the 40° wide beam, and liked it very much, although we found it a little dim. The spot beam version would probably be bright enough though. The wide angle version had a very even light pattern, with no rings or bright spots.
If you have a GoPro camera, or another action camera, the Sidekick Duo by Light & Motion is a small night snorkeling light made to mount beside your camera. It has two light options, either a 600 lumen 90° wide angle beam, or a 400 lumen 23° spot. But, being such a tiny light, the battery life is not amazing.
So now let's take a look at different things you should consider before buying your night snorkeling light.
The higher the lumen value of the night snorkeling light the brighter it is. But brighter is not always better when snorkeling, depending on the water conditions, the beam angle of your light, and if you are going to use it to take pictures and videos.
A narrow beam torch can have a lower lumen value and still appear very bright because it is not lighting up as much area. For a narrow beam light, (8-12°) 300 lumens is the minimum we suggest, and 500 or more is preferable.
For a wider beam light, (40-100°) 500 seems about the minimum we would use. 1000 lumens and brighter is better for wide beam lights, but they can actually be too bright when you are close to the reef. So you will often need to turn it down to a lower setting. Brighter lights also cost more and are generally bigger and weigh more in your luggage.
Note that with few exceptions, the diving lights are designed to work underwater, and will overheat when used in the air. They use the water to cool.
Night snorkeling lights come in different beam angles, that are measured in degrees. A spot light has a narrow tight beam, in the 8-20° range, that will shine farther in murky water, but will not illuminate your surroundings as much. A wide beam, in the 40-100° range, takes more power, shows more of your surroundings, but may not cut through murky water as far as a spot. How to decide?
Are You Going to Take Pictures & Videos? Go Wide Beam!
If you would like to get some pictures at night, that is a big consideration for what night snorkeling light to get. A very bright light, with a narrow beam, can easily be too bright in the center, or have rings of uneven light.
See the picture at the right of the lobster? Notice the bright white spot that is so bright that you can't see the details? In this case I had a narrow beam light that was very bright and I had to carefully shine it beside the lobster to be able to get any usable picture. If I had pointed it right at the lobster it would likely have been very overexposed. This is the problem with using a narrow beam spot light that is very bright for photography/video.
So if you want to use the light to take pictures, look for a wide beam light, preferably without rings and hot spots. For general wide angle photography closeups, 60° is pretty nice. But if you are shooting super wide angle GoPro type video, you may need over 100° to light up the entire scene without dark corners. The picture below was taken with a wide beam light. The background is not as bright, but the foreground does not have hot spots.
Actually, if you really want to do
good night photography, you will need to get into using strobes or
flashes, attached to your camera on long arms, to get them away from
your lens. And for videos, you would need a couple of very wide angle
lights. But that is beyond the scope of this page.
Not Doing Photography? Want to See Farther? Go Spot Beam! The problem with a wide beam light is that if the water is not super clear, it will reflect off all the particles, making it actually hard to see very far. So if you are not doing photography, a narrow spot beam can be better because it cuts through murky water, allowing you to see farther.
A wide beam is nice for showing more of your surroundings, which makes some people more comfortable.
there are times when you need both, which is why we like lights that
either have a zoom function, like our Tovatec Fusion lights, or that
have separate wide and spot lights build in. They can work for
photography and illuminating more of the area when the water is clear.
And they can be narrowed down into a spot beam for situations where you
want to see farther.
As snorkelers we like to keep the size and weight of our equipment down as much as possible. Having less to pack, less to haul onto the airplane, and less bulk to push through the water is important.
We recommend you try and keep your night snorkeling light small and lightweight, but make sure it still puts out enough lumens and the battery will last for at least two hours.
Rated for Diving - Lots of flashlights are waterproof but are not suitable for snorkeling. Make sure you get one that is rated for diving for your safety.
Bulb Type - Pretty much all the lights available now use energy efficient and bright LED bulbs. Cree is one popular manufacturer of bulbs, as is Seoul Semi Conductors. We would not get a snorkeling light that uses Halogen or Tungsten anymore.
Get a Wrist Lanyard - Most lights come with one, but make sure you have a wrist strap, because these night snorkeling lights don't float.
Battery Types - Consider what type of batteries you want to use before you purchase your night snorkeling light. Some run off regular easily available batteries like C, AA, or AAA. Rechargeable lithium battery lights are really the best choice though. They give you the most power for the weight, and reduce battery waste.
Battery Length - A very bright night snorkeling light that is small may not even last a full hour at full power. That is too short for safety in our opinion. Try and get a light that will last at least 2-4 hours on one charge.
Backup Lights? - Divers nearly always carry a small backup light, in case their main light dies. We don't feel this is as important for a snorkeler, so long as you are snorkeling with someone else who has a good light. You are on the surface, and so the risks are lower.