What to Look for In Your First Set of Fins

Swim further, faster and easier with the right set of fins.

Person with snorkel fins up during sunset
Snorkeling and scuba diving make any vacation more exciting, so adding a pair of fins to your luggage is a wise move.Shutterstock

Fins not only make it easier to swim, they make it more fun and give you more of the water to explore. However, choosing the right set the first time out can be intimidating for new divers. Here’s what you should look for as you’re considering your first set.

Fits Like a Glove

CAPAS Snorkel Fins
CAPAS Snorkel Fins.CAPAS

Start with short-blade fins for your first set. Short blades are easier to control for new divers and are more portable, usually fitting right in your pocket. While longer blades will give you more power, it's good to have a short set to get used to being in the water and to work your way up to a longer set. They're also easier to put on for walking on land.

Gain the Upper Foot

Cressi Palau Short Snorkeling Swim Fins with Mesh Bag
Cressi Palau Short Snorkeling Swim Fins with Mesh Bag.Cressi

Fins generally come in "full-foot" and "open-heel" types, and you should have open heels for your first set. Just like shoes may look like a good fit until you put them on, full-foot fins need to be sized carefully and take some getting used to. Open-heel fins are easier to adjust and will let you try out accessories like dive booties to limit blisters and discomfort. They're also easier to share between groups, so you won't need to buy multiple sets if you're not all going in the water at once.

Walk This Way

cozia design Snorkel Set with Swim Fins
Cozia Design Snorkel Set with Swim FinsCozia Design

Don't forget that you'll spend at least a little time on land with your fins. The sole under your foot should be comfortable and grippy enough for you to get around when you're not swimming, and also so you don't slide off the deck. Look for treads, and run your hand over the material to get a sense of its texture. If possible, walk around in them for a few steps to get a sense of how you'll feel standing in them.