Choosing The Right Snorkel For You

Picking a snorkel for your next underwater adventure need not be a difficult task.

In general terms there are 3 main types of snorkel available, all designed to be used on the surface to breathe through while you have your face in the water as you ‘snorkel’. There’s no better or worse design – it usually comes down to what you are willing to pay for or if you have any personal reason why you prefer one design over another.

Different snorkels may have different features but will fall into one of the 3 types below:

Snorkel Features

Tube Snorkel

The ‘tube’ design is just that - a simple, straightforward ‘breathing’ tube, like the Cressi Corsica Snorkel. They are usually L-shaped or J-shaped with a mouthpiece at the lower end and no purge valve or semi-dry/dry top. This type of snorkel is very popular with freedivers due to the simplicity of the design.

Semi-dry Purge Valve snorkel

A ‘semi-dry’ or ‘dry’ snorkel refers to the type of design the snorkel may have on the top of the snorkel. A semi-dry snorkel would usually have some kind of shaping/venting on the top which tries to help deflect water away from the main part of the tube as you snorkel on the surface like the Tusa Platina II Hyperdry Snorkel.

Dry Top Purge Valve Snorkel

A ‘dry’ snorkel has a mechanism which remains open while you are on the surface to allow you to breathe, but will close off when sufficient external water pressure is applied to prevent water entering the tube. The ‘dry’ mechanism would therefore usually operate as you duck dive down off the surface and under the water when there is sufficient external water pressure. One of our most popular dry snorkels is the Tusa Hyperdry Elite II Snorkel, which uses two independent floats that quickly close the gasket when the snorkel is submerged or you are hit by a wave (example below).

Dry top mechanism open

Dry Top mechanism open

Dry top mechanism closed

Dry Top mechanism closed

Other Features

There are a few other features you may want to consider before purchasing a new snorkel.

Purge Valve

A purge valve, usually positioned at the bottom of the snorkel, is a simple mechanism, usually a flap of silicone which remains closed as you snorkel due to external water pressure but then is forced open as you exhale to aid clearing water from the snorkel. Naturally, water will find whichever the easier route, top or bottom is but, a purge valve helps to ‘purge’ the snorkel of excess water more efficiently than a tube design snorkel. Semi-dry and Dry Top snorkels will have a purge valve.


Silicone mouthpieces are the most comfortable and last longer than other cheaper plastic versions (all of our snorkels use silicone). Some people prefer if they can also buy a replacement mouthpiece for their snorkel rather than having to buy a completely new snorkel should this get damaged or tear. We stock replacement mouthpieces for both Tusa and Mares snorkels.

Flexible Tube

Rigid or flexible tube – snorkels have either a rigid or flexible bend adjacent to the mouthpiece. Snorkels with a flexible or corrugated section are often more comfortable than the classic tube design and allow you to rotate the top and mouthpiece to different angles so the snorkel can better fit to your face. This also means the snorkel’s mouthpiece drops away from your face when not in use. Almost all of our snorkels have a flexible tube section, except those specifically designed for free diving, etc.

The vast majority of snorkels we sell have purge valves and at least a semi-dry top. All have soft silicone mouthpieces and many have flexible corrugated sections to aid positioning the snorkel in the mouth. Have a look at our full range and remember if you still can't decide our expert team is always available to help further on the phone, via email or using our live chat.