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  • What is a Full Face Snorkel Mask and how do they work? Are they safe?

Last Updated: January 3, 2023

What are Full face snorkel masks and how do they work? 

Welcome to the world of full face snorkel masks! These innovative pieces of diving equipment have revolutionized the way we snorkel, offering a unique and enjoyable experience for both seasoned snorkelers and those new to the sport.

Full face snorkel masks first gained popularity around 2015 and have continued to grow in popularity since then. These masks cover the entire face, providing a comfortable and easy-to-use option for snorkeling. Whether you're an experienced snorkeler or are just starting out, you may have some questions about these masks. 

We're here to help answer those questions and provide all the information you need to get started with full face snorkel masks.

If, after reading through the information you don't find the answer to a question you have or something that concerns you, please send an email or leave your question in the Comments section below, and I'll make sure we can update you, and this article.  

Frequently asked questions

What is a full face snorkel mask and how does it work?

A full face snorkel mask offers a unique and comfortable snorkeling experience, as it covers your entire face and allows you to breathe naturally through your nose and mouth. The mask is designed with two separate sections: one for vision and one for breathing.

A tube is attached to the top of the mask, which includes a plastic float called a Dry Top Snorkel system. This system prevents water from entering the tube when the mask is submerged, ensuring that you can continue to breathe easily and more comfortably while snorkeling.

Wildhorn Outfitters V2 Full Face Snorkel Mask Air Flow

Seaview has a snorkel on the side

Air Circulation Full Face Snorkel Mask

Most full face masks have a central snorkel

Full Face Snorkel Masks: Developed by Tribord and Ocean Reef, Trusted by the US Navy

Did you know that the full face snorkel masks we know today were developed through a collaboration between Tribord and Ocean Reef, and were first introduced at the DEMA (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association) Convention in 2014?

Ocean Reef is also known for their full face SCUBA masks, which have even been used by the US Navy in rescue missions, such as the successful effort to rescue the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave in 2018. This information is important to consider when thinking about the safety and reliability of these masks.

Are full face snorkel masks suitable for children to use?

The short answer is yes, as children often find it easier to breathe naturally through their nose and mouth with these masks and may not experience the gagging or discomfort that can come with using a traditional snorkel and mouthpiece.

When choosing a snorkel mask for your child, it's important to select a brand that offers XS or S sizing options and has a good returns or exchange policy in case the size isn't quite right. 

With the right fit and brand, your child can enjoy a comfortable and enjoyable snorkeling experience.

Subea Easybreath

Clear View, No Fog: The Benefits of Using a Full Face Snorkel Mask

One common concern when using a full face snorkel mask is whether or not it will fog up like traditional masks. Fortunately, full face masks are designed with two separate sections to prevent this from happening.

The upper section, which covers your eyes and provides your field of vision, should remain clear and free from fog. The lower section, which covers your mouth and nose, may fog up slightly during use. However, many full face snorkel masks come equipped with anti-fog technology to minimize this effect and provide a clear, unobstructed view while snorkeling.

Tribord Mask

Explore the Depths: Full Face Snorkel Masks and Equalizing Masks

Most full face snorkel masks are designed for surface use only and are not suitable for diving to deeper depths. You can generally swim to a depth of about 9 feet (or 3 meters) with these masks, but going any deeper may become uncomfortable.

If you do want to dive deeper and equalize the pressure in your ears, there are now specialized equalizing masks available on the market. These masks allow you to safely and comfortably explore the underwater world at greater depths.

Find out more about equalizing masks here

Can you breathe underwater using a full face snorkel mask?

The answer is no, just as with a traditional snorkel and tube, you cannot breathe underwater with a full face mask. Instead, you must take a breath and hold it as soon as the snorkel tube submerges.

Full face snorkel masks are designed for surface use only and should not be used for diving or attempting to breathe underwater.

How do I clear the snorkel tube of water after re-surfacing?

Are you wondering how to clear water from the tube of your full face snorkel mask after submerging? Unlike traditional snorkels, you don't need to purge or manually clear the snorkel of water when resurfacing.

Full face snorkel masks are equipped with a Dry Top system, which uses a plastic ball to close the tube when submerged and prevent water from entering.

When you resurface, the ball lowers and the tube reopens, allowing you to breathe air through it again. This system makes it easy to clear water from the tube without the need for manual intervention.

Dry Top Snorkel

Will the mask leak if I have a Beard or Moustache?

It's important to note that any hair that is present between the skirt of the mask and your face, including a long fringe, may allow water to enter the mask. This is true for both traditional masks and full face masks.

Moustaches, on the other hand, are completely enclosed within the mask and do not pose a problem. Beards, however, can create tiny spaces that may allow water to enter the mask. Trimming your beard may help to reduce this issue, but it may not completely prevent a slow leak of water into the mask.

Snorkel Masks and Eye Glasses

If you wear glasses and are considering using a full face snorkel mask, you may be wondering if it's possible to use your glasses with the mask. Some full face masks offer an accessory called an optical frame, which can be inserted and removed to allow the use of standard optical lenses inside the mask. These frames are sold separately and do not include lenses.

To use this accessory, you will need to have your glasses tailored to fit the frame by your optometrist. Both Ocean Reef and Tribord (also known as Subea) offer optical accessories for their full face masks.

Recently, Ninja Shark has also released accessories for their masks that include optional optical lenses and eye glasses with standard magnification levels that can be purchased separately to customize the mask to your needs.

What if I have a big face and nose?

If you have a larger face or nose, you may find that the bridge of your nose rubs against the snorkel mask. While this can be uncomfortable, it's important to keep in mind that full face masks come in a range of sizes to accommodate different face shapes and sizes.

If you are experiencing discomfort due to the fit of your mask, you may want to consider trying a larger size or a different brand that offers a better fit for your face. It's also a good idea to read reviews and try on the mask before purchasing to ensure that you find a comfortable and secure fit.

Are full face snorkel masks allowed in Hawaii?

While these masks are not banned in the state, it's worth noting that some tour operators may not permit the use of full face snorkel masks on their tours.

If you are planning to snorkel in Hawaii and want to use a full face mask, it's a good idea to research the policies of different tour operators before booking a tour. Some operators may have specific rules or restrictions on the use of these masks, so it's important to be aware of these before making any plans. If you are unable to find information on a specific tour operator's policies, try reaching out to them directly to ask about their stance on the use of full face snorkel masks.

Are you planning a snorkeling trip to Hawaii and want to know which tour operators allow the use of full face snorkel masks? Look no further! We are in the process of compiling a list of tour operators in Hawaii and their policies on the use of full face masks. Click here to view our list, which is constantly being updated with new information.

If you have experience with a tour operator in Hawaii and would like to share your thoughts on their stance on full face masks, we welcome your input. Please feel free to reach out and let us know about your experiences.

Hawaii Tour Operators

Are you looking for recommendations on the best full face snorkel masks to use?

When it comes to finding the best full face snorkel mask, it's important to prioritize quality and proper fit. To view our top picks for the best full face masks on the market, click here. Our recommendations are based on a variety of factors including comfort, durability, and overall performance. We hope this helps you find the perfect full face snorkel mask for your needs!

Snorkeling Takes Effort

Snorkeling is an enjoyable and exciting activity, but it's important to remember that it does require some effort, especially when you are swimming in the ocean with tides and currents. To get started with snorkeling, follow these simple steps:

  • Adjust your breathing: Before you enter the water, take a few deep breaths to get yourself comfortable with the sensation of breathing through the mask.
  • Put on the mask: Put the mask on your face and adjust the straps to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.
  • Test the mask: Stand in a shallow area of the water and slowly lower your face into the water. Take a couple of breaths to get the feel for it and make any necessary adjustments to the mask.
  • Begin snorkeling: Once you are comfortable with your breathing and the fit of the mask, lower yourself into the water and start snorkeling. 

Enjoy exploring the underwater world!

These are not for everyone

It's important to remember that full face snorkel masks are not for everyone, just like traditional masks and snorkels. There may be a variety of reasons why these masks work better for some people and not as well for others. It may simply come down to personal preference.

If you have tried a full face snorkel mask and didn't enjoy it, don't be discouraged. There are many other options available, and you may find that a traditional mask and snorkel works better for you. The important thing is to find the equipment and setup that works best for you and allows you to enjoy snorkeling to the fullest.

Berry Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Flynn using a Ninja mask

My personal experience

As a parent, I can understand the challenges of finding the right snorkeling equipment for a child with autism.

My own son struggled with the feeling of water running down his face and was never able to adjust to using a traditional mouth snorkel tube. However, he loved swimming and it was a source of joy and comfort for him. When I discovered full face snorkel masks, I was hopeful that it would allow him to enjoy snorkeling more comfortably. And I was right!

The full face mask kept the water away from his eyes and nose, and he was able to spend hours floating around in the pool without any discomfort. Now, he happily swims in rivers and ponds with his mask and loves every minute of it. It's wonderful to see him enjoying such a fun and rewarding activity.

5/5 - (1 vote)

About the Author

Sharon McKenzie

Sharon loves to be near the water and has been spending time at the beach as a child. She spends most of her spare time doing water sports, such as snorkeling, paddle boarding, and Scuba Diving. Her next goal is to travel around Australia visiting the best swimming spots.

Author Web Link

Sharon McKenzie - Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Snorkeling

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