Wearing a Mask vs Goggles

Many guests on Cabo San Lucas snorkeling tours wonder whether it is better to wear a scuba mask or swim goggles while snorkeling. Both snorkels and masks work by providing a pocket of air in front of you that let light rays reach your eyes in a more focused way, eliminating the distortion caused by direct contact with water. Without a mask or goggles, everything appears blurry under water. Both masks and goggles can be used for snorkeling, and both can be found in a variety of materials, including glass, plastic, acrylic and polycarbonate. Generally, however, it's preferable to use a special scuba mask.

The Difference Between Snorkeling Masks and Goggles

Diving masks are made especially for snorkeling and scuba diving, and most are fairly large and rectangular, reaching from high on the forehead almost to the bottom of the nose. Most masks have a double flanged seal that fits around the face to keep the mask watertight. Swim goggles are generally round or oval in shape, are smaller than masks and fit closer to the eyes. They are primarily intended for use while swimming and seal only the wearer's eyes, not the nose as in a scuba mask.

Ease of Keeping a Watertight Seal

If you're on or near the surface, you may be able to get by with just goggles, but it may be difficult to maintain their seal when you attach a relatively bulky and heavy snorkel. Because goggles seal according to the tightness of the strap, addition of the snorkel may make it difficult to maintain a seal. Scuba masks, on the other hand, are made to keep a watertight seal no matter how tight the strap is. Because they are also intended for deep sea scuba diving, a properly fitting mask is very good at keeping water out. Keeping water out of eye gear is also important because water can cause fogging of the lens, and it's much easier to keep masks free of water.

Using the Snorkel Tube with a Mask or Goggles

Learning to breathe only through your mouth while using a snorkel takes some practice, and it's easier to accidentally inhale water while wearing goggles since they don't cover your nose. However, a little extra practice or a nose plug may take care of this problem. Masks, on the other hand, are designed for comfortable, watertight use with the snorkel breathing tube.

Underwater Pressure

If you plan to dive down below the surface while enjoying some amazing Cabo San Lucas snorkeling tours, you will want to wear a dive mask as it has more air volume to keep you from getting “mask squeeze”. Water is 800 times denser than air, and is you dive down while deep snorkeling, pressure can cause the air spaces in the goggles or mask to compress, pushing them tighter against the face in such a way as to cause pain, discomfort and sometimes bruising. Because your nose can exhale a little air into the mask, the air inside the mask can be more easily equalized with the water pressure outside the mask. Equalized pressure can help you you avoid mask squeeze.

Overall, most snorkelers prefer a scuba mask over swim goggles. They stay clearer, keep a better watertight seal, equalize pressure for more comfort and accommodate a snorkeling tube more securely.