Differences between a Dive and a Snorkel Mask

At first glance a dive and a snorkel mask look the same. Well, that is if you leave out the full-face snorkel masks which don’t look anything like a scuba mask. Taking a deeper look at a standard snorkel and dive mask reveals some subtle differences.


Let’s look at the main differences between snorkeling and diving when it comes to masks. When snorkeling you have your face under water while diving requires you to be completely submerged. Doing this requires that you have the least amount of buoyancy.

A dive mask has to have the lowest possible profile so that the least amount of air is trapped inside the mask. During snorkeling it is much less of an issue how much air is trapped inside the mask.


When snorkeling, you barely increase the pressure on the mask as you’re not going down into the water. A dive mask must withstand high pressure while under water and as such has to be built much sturdier than a snorkel mask.

A snorkel mask can be built to lower standards as it won’t be exposed to the pressure of the water at depths. Even if you would get a really cheap snorkel mask and it breaks or leaks then it usually is not a problem. You simply lift your head out of the water and either change the mask (if possible) or drain the water.

If you’re diving this can be a much bigger problem as well as a security hazard. You might not be able to quickly surface without endangering your health. Therefore, it is much more important to have a dive mask that is built accordingly to be safe and to withstand the high pressure of your environment.


Many snorkel masks might use lower grade material for the frame or the window. It could very well be that the window in a snorkel mask is made from plastic or acryl which is perfectly sufficient during snorkeling. The skirt and frame of a snorkel mask often is also made from cheaper silicones or rubber. Again, for snorkeling this is sufficient and nothing to be worried about.

Such a material selection does not work for a dive mask. The window on high-quality dive masks is made from tempered glass. This is a lot sturdier than plastic and it is shatter-proof. In addition, it is also the best material to prevent the mask from fogging up.

The frame and skirt of a dive mask are made from high-quality silicone. The soft skirt creates a tight seal with your face. The high-quality material will also not dry out and it will be able to be used for years to come.


A snorkel mask has to fit well but it does not really have to fit perfect. Yes, you do want a tight fit so you won’t have leaks but that’s about it. Even a tiny leak will not be a problem as you can just blow it out. You even can just put your head out of the water to adjust the fit again until it’s good enough.

A dive mask does have to fit perfect. Being deep under water means that you require a perfect fit. You can’t really afford to have a leak while diving as the water will stream in and ruin the experience. In the worst case it can result in a danger for your health!

Finding the best fit is easy. Hold it against your face without using the straps and then inhale through your nose. If the mask sits tight and does not come off your face then it’s a great fit.


The last difference is not surprisingly the price point. Most regular snorkel masks can be had for under $40 or so. This is due to the lower end materials that are used and the overall less sturdy build.

A good dive mask can easily cost you a couple of hundred dollars. Dive masks start at around $30 to $50 and can run up to many hundreds of dollars. Mostly this is due to the high-quality materials used and the higher-end design of the mask.

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