a hand holding a snorkeling mask on a beach at sunset

Can You Snorkel With Swimming Goggles?

Snorkeling attracts millions a year to give it a try. The fascination to try and view the underwater world is an experience many want to investigate.

Everything from the fascinating underwater terrain to the colorful marine life tempts people to take a glimpse. Traditionally it’s done with a specifically designed mask.

Masks aren’t the only items designed for water observation though. For those who go swimming, they will likely have a set of swimming goggles and wonder why bother with getting a mask.

It’s not an unreasonable question and makes sense. So, can you snorkel with swimming goggles?

Yes, it’s certainly possible to snorkel with swimming goggles. The snorkel can attach to the goggle straps with a snorkel keeper so it is functionally possible. A traditional mask is better suited though as it has a nose covering, and is more comfortable for diving, and offers a better view. A snorkel is likely to break the seal when wearing goggles.

Both masks and goggles work on the same principle. An air layer between your eyeball and the seawater allows light to enter your eye at the correct angle, giving you clearer underwater vision.

They seem the same, but there are advantages to masks. Swimming goggles work, but they aren’t as ideal.

a female snorkeler over corals on the surface

The question might be, will swimming goggles be enough for the type of snorkeling you want to do. After all, it saves packing space or having to buy or rent gear.

The advantages of a mask are more obvious the more you try snorkeling more than once. A professional set just makes sense, but if you are going on holiday and only want to try it for 20 minutes, you’d be sensible in asking – are swimming goggles good enough?

So let’s walk through the issues regarding using snorkeling goggles rather than the more preferential mask.

Goggles vs Snorkeling Mask

Firstly, you can attach the snorkel to both. A rental or bought kit will come with proper attachments so that the snorkel attaches comfortably.

There’s an item called a snorkel keeper which is a double-ringed piece of silicon that slips over the snorkel tube, around the mask strap, and back around the snorkel tube again. The snorkel is then attached to the swimming goggles.

Swimming goggles are, surprise surprise, more suited to swimming. Specifically in a pool environment. While you can dive with them they are less suitable. 

You could well need a nose plug, which isn’t needed with a mask, as it’s encompassed within the mask design.

Most people don’t dive deep when they snorkeling, nonetheless, some people do. As you dive the pressure increases. At 32 ft down, you have added another atmosphere in pressure.

That means there is increased pressure on the mask or goggles onto your face. This is why scuba masks are designed to be ‘low volume’. That is there is less compressible space for the water pressure to act upon.

It won’t make a difference to most, but diving in goggles isn’t as suitable. A mask is more comfortable, and better designed to distribute the pressure associated with diving beneath the surface.

Masks also stay on the face a little more comfortably with frequent dives. They’re designed for it.

The other issue is that a snorkeling mask surrounds the nose. The benefit of this is that it’s easier to breathe through the mouth, at least it is for me, and it allows you to equalize pressure. At depth, the mask will push onto your face.

a couple snorkeling around fish

Breathing out through your nose pressurizes the inside of the mask to regulate the comfort on your face.

The other reason googles might be less than ideal is that a snorkel will move around a bit, especially as you dive. With the seal on goggles being quite light, it may break the seal quite often.

You will keep having to reseal your swimming goggles, whereas you won’t with a proper snorkeling mask.

Final Thoughts – Parting Waves

Whether it’s swimming goggles or a proper mask, there’s no doubt about a desire to have a better underwater view. Both options put air, which refracts light differently, to give you the desired result.

There aren’t any specifically designed snorkeling goggles. There’s a reason for this.

Goggles can work if you only want to surface snorkel in a very small area, with no tide movement, more reminiscent of a pool.

Snorkeling is different from swimming. The snorkel will likely pull the goggles off their watertight seal and render the goggles pointless.

If you want to enjoy your snorkeling, it’s much better to get a mask. They seal better and are designed for better comfort with a snorkel.

Goggles can work, but you’d be better off just swimming over the terrain, and so are much better suited to shallow water snorkeling, where breathing face down isn’t as big a requirement.

Proper snorkeling will mean swimming for extended periods across the surface and diving down for more recreational fun, and as such, a proper snorkeling mask will be far superior.

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