What's the Difference Between a Dive Mask and a Snorkel Mask? A Comparison

by Mihai Pinzariu on September 24, 2019

Keen to go for an underwater adventure but not quite sure if you should go for a snorkel mask or a dive mask? You’re not alone! We’ve seen a lot of curious snorkellers online asking about the difference between the two masks, and for good reason. Both masks are designed to give you crystal clear vision of sea and marine life, and both feature advanced technology that allows you to make the most of underwater life. But they’re also two very different things.

In this article we’ll go through a comparison of snorkel masks and dive masks, looking at the features that they have in common as well as what’s different between the two. If you’re not sure if you should be buying a snorkel mask or a dive mask, you’ll know for sure by the end of this article!

1. Design

Let’s start with the obvious. It might not be entirely clear when you’re looking at the two side by side, but the designs of snorkel masks and scuba masks differ greatly. Firstly, let’s reiterate the fact that snorkelling and scuba diving are two entirely different things.

When snorkelling, it’s typically just your face that’s underwater and your body can be floating above the surface. With scuba diving, though, your body is always going to be completely submerged underwater. Being completely submerged underwater while scuba diving means that diving masks are designed to be less buoyant.

Basically, it means that diving masks are designed to have the least amount of air trapped inside the mask so that it doesn’t float up. On the other hand, with snorkelling masks it doesn’t really matter about the buoyancy as you’ll be floating along the surface most of the time.

That said, a lot of snorkel masks have evolved to allow for diving underneath the surface (freediving), and therefore less buoyant and designed to expel the air to reduce pressure underwater. But that’s a story for another time! (Want to learn more? Check out our Pinch Your Nose & Equalise! mask)

2. Build and quality

Design is one thing and build is another, and snorkel and scuba masks differ in both. Scuba masks must be built with the highest quality materials and subjected to extremely strict and rigorous testing as they’ll generally be travelling much deeper underwater than snorkel masks. The deeper you go underwater, the more pressure will be pushing water into the mask, and the longer it will take you to resurface for a breath should something go wrong with your mask.

For that reason, dive masks need to be built extremely sturdy and strong so they can withstand all the pressure and not buckle or break underwater. Scuba diving can be a dangerous sport (you are going deep, deep underwater after all) and the mask needs to make sure that divers are always able to see clearly and breathe.

3. Material choices

Going from the point above, since it’s absolutely necessary that dive masks are able to go extremely deep underwater without cracking under pressure, the materials used to construct scuba diving masks are different.

Typically, dive masks will feature a window made from tempered glass rather than acrylic or plastic as you may find with lots of snorkel masks. Tempered glass breaks without sharp edges, so even if the window should break from the underwater pressure, at the very least it won’t pose as much danger to the diver. On the other hand, you can basically forget about a snorkel mask window cracking as there’ll be barely any pressure put on the mask from the water’s surface.

It’s also important that the skirt and frame of the mask also be made from soft, durable, and high-quality silicone that creates a watertight seal around the face. While you’ll find lots of high quality snorkel masks that are made using medical grade silicone, most will just use rubber or normal silicone. While that’s fine for snorkelling, it makes snorkel masks less durable than dive masks and more prone to crack/dry out.

Lower quality silicones also mean the mask won’t seal as tightly around the face, giving the chance of water leaking in while snorkelling. Again, this isn’t so much of an issue while snorkelling (just an annoying one), but while diving it could be life-threatening.

4. Price points

All of the above mean that dive masks are priced much higher than snorkel masks. The need to be designed well, built sturdily, and made from quality materials means that scuba masks can run you quite a lot of money. That said, they’re designed to last virtually forever.

On the other hand, snorkelling masks can range in pricing, from extremely cheap to a little pricey (but still nowhere near dive masks). It doesn’t mean that they’re bad quality, it’s just because they’ll be subjected to a lot less pressure than dive masks.

Comparing snorkel and dive masks

To wrap it up, the main difference between snorkel masks and dive masks is that one is designed for going deep underwater while the other is mainly designed for the surface or shallow diving. Because snorkelling doesn’t pose the same dangers as scuba diving, a lot of snorkel mask manufacturers tend to take shortcuts and create pieces that are poorer quality – but that doesn’t mean all snorkel masks are shoddy!

You’ll find snorkel masks priced much cheaper than dive masks, and going for the cheapest snorkel mask will probably mean buying a lower quality mask. That said, higher end snorkel masks are designed quite similarly to dive masks, with strong, sturdy materials, medical grade silicone, and the ability to dive underwater without feeling pressure on your face or mask.

Should you buy a snorkel or a dive mask?

Do you have a scuba diving certification? How deep do you plan on going underwater? If freediving is as far down as you’ll get, then a snorkel mask will be more than enough for your needs. You don’t need to be certified to use a snorkel mask, it’s not difficult at all, and it’s more affordable and requires less care and maintenance than a dive mask.

For something in between the two, check out our Pinch Your Nose & Equalise mask. A full face snorkel mask that allows you to breathe while diving underwater, as well as pinch your nose and equalise, this is as close as you’ll get to snorkelling with a dive mask (without actually snorkelling with a dive mask).

How many people dream of snorkelling but don't feel comfortable wearing a snorkel mask?

The Influencer @lud.around is a NINJASHARK lover!

NINJASHARK is the sound of a revolution in snorkeling. Whereas other water equipments companies are constantly adding poor quality products, we listen to your feedback and constantly improve our products to fit for all of your needs.

"I'm not leaving my room without the mask. The full face snorkeling mask from Australia is comfortable and fit me perfectly! Love how easy it is to breath out your nose and mouth when you snorkeling and even has earplugs!"

“The mask include GOPRO mounts, so you can easily film and photograph underwater scenery! I highly recommend especially to people who have a fear of snorkeling! This mask is really easy to use and is safe!” said @lud.around. “I can’t wait for my next trip with my new mask!”

The Ninja Shark full face snorkel masks makes your experiences the best they can be. They are exclusively sold on the Ninja Shark website.

The Ninja Shark full face snorkel masks comes equipped with advanced Anti-Fog technology, automatic drainage, no CO2 Buildup with improved uni-directional valves, and a revolutionary breathe flow system so you can breathe through both your nose and mouth.

“If you thought we’re just here to sell you products, think again. You’re part of the Ninja Shark family, and your feedback matters! We’re constantly working to improve our products and deliver the full face snorkel mask that exists only in our dreams!”

What customers are saying about us…

“Awesome set.

Loved the complete set. I even used the waterproof phone pouch to take photos and videos underwater. It made my Fiji experience so much better than using the free snorkel set that hurt your face after 2hours and leaving a sun/mask mark. The ninja leaves no marks and gives great vision under water in comparison. It did take some getting used to but it definitely paid off! Only frustration is that the tightening straps are quite basic; they should be much simpler to loosen and tighten both in and out of water.” – Jock

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by Ninja Shark! You’ll love it.

All Ninja Shark Products are tailor-made
with medical silicone.

We care about making our products safe and healthy for you—and our planet.
That’s why the Ninja Shark Full Face Snorkelling Masks are made from a non-toxic and environmentally friendly anti-allergic medical grade silicone, that’s not only safer for your kids but safer for you too.

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Based on 1494 reviews
Package : Air Adults (Mask + Fins + Bag)
JEANNIE O. (Piara Waters, AU)
Bloody love this!

Never snorkelled in my life. Petrified of putting my head under water. But now my neck is bad - if I don't alter the way I swim - then no more swimming for me. This has opened 'a whole new world' - (haha -that songs stuck in your head now) - to me. I'm just using my ninja gear in my gym outdoor pool atm. My legs are getting so strong - and my lungs too - as I'm doing some great breathing. I have huge surgery coming up soon - and i believe this is allowing me to get to a great level of fitness - in preparation. Honestly - i can't go on enough about this product enough. My friend bought a cheaper version. She's given it away already... say no more 🤿🤿🤿

Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
Bolang C. (Perth, AU)
Great design

This is the best snorkel mask I’ve ever had. Very comfortable on face, easy to breathe. I am not a good swimmer, it makes me feel safe and enjoy snorkelling without distraction. Thank you ninjiashark.

Best snorkel ever!!

Got one of these for me and my 7 year old daughter for Xmas. We’ve used them twice already and love them!! So much easier to breathe, can see so much and just makes the whole snorkelling experience better! Would highly recommend!

Clear as day

Clear to see and easy to breathe,
Whole family loves the NinjaShark Snorkel mask.

Lifetime Warranty
Robyn H. (Adelaide, AU)

The best snorkel and mask combination. No going back now! I could snorkel for over an hour easily. So glad I made this purchase

(DRAFT) Package: Dry Snorkel (Set + Fins + Bag)
Mermaid M. (Townsville, AU)

While travelling in Timor leste l met a fellow snorkeller. We snorkelled for 10 days together the food was shit but the water was stunning. The friend was using Ninja Shark fins and mask mine were steaming up, letting in water and heavy. On arriving back in Australia l ordered straight away.
I was a little bit anxious on receiving my order as the mask was quite different to my old one and the fins were short and adjustable ( l wanted them to be my size ! ) well to my luck the weather was beautiful ( yes mid winter in Mackay ) and perfect for boating so off we scooted to Cockermouth ( don't laugh it's a real place ) jumping in and WOW I'm now a mermaid 🧜‍♀️ the mask and fins felt like part of me. I actually cried as not only was the equipment allowing me to explore as l wanted but the reef was STUNNING. So lm indepted to Ninja Shark for making me the mermaid l always aspired to be 🧜‍♀️

Took it to Tahiti

I wasn’t quite sure about getting a full face mask but bought mine (Electra package) before a trip to Tahiti which we got home from yesterday - absolutely LOVED it!!! I’ll be getting one for my wife before our next trip to a similar destination. BTW I make LOTS of crazy videos with lots of toys.

Judge.me YouTube video placeholder
Life changing

I do love my full face snorkel.. the freedom of nose breathing under the water.. the meditative and relaxative effect of this snorkeling is unexpected and great. Fits so well.. comfy to wear for long time.. highly recommend

(DRAFT) Diving Dry Snorkel Set with GoPro mount
jomm11 (Brisbane, AU)
Super quality & fit

So happy we got Ninja shark, perfect for Great barrier reef snorkel day.
Flippers, mask, dry wallet, carry bag (good quality bag), anti fog spray, happy days.

Ninja Shark Kids Mask

We recently brought the Ninja Shark Kids 3-11 Mask + Fins + Bag package for our 7 year old who absolutely loves it! Will be buying three more for the rest of the family. 😊

Even better than expected!

I saw the kids full face snorkel masks online, and thought they looked pretty cool. I ordered two for Christmas, for my 3 and 6 year olds. Wow, did they have a great time with them!

I wasn't sure how the 3 year old would go with it, but he was comfortable in it almost immediately, and spent hours swimming around and seeing a whole new world of underwater scenery.

They were easy to fit, zero issues with them staying on. No leaks or fog.

They can't wait to get back to the water!

Highly recommend this product :)

Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
Nick J. (Brisbane, AU)
mask swimming

The mask did exactly what was stated. I was very happy and will get another mask for my daughter.

Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
Sheara R. (Perth, AU)
Great way to swim

I have NEVER been able to snorkel but love swimming. These full face snorkels are an absolute game changer in my life. Now I try to swim around 5 kms a week in the local pool. The Ninja mask makes it easy to do laps. I’ve been using the Ninja Shark for a quite few years and find the new Electra the best full face mask ever. No leaks, no fog and really easy to use and great quality. I’ve noticed my regular chats with other swimmers at the pool have encouraged many of them to purchase one of their own. I’ve given my older models to my grandkids and they love them too.


I got one for the 3 year old and one for the 5 year old, I thought maybe the 3 year old would get the hang of it eventually but they both loved it and mastered it pretty quickly. We’ve only used in the swimming pool, excited to go snorkeling in the ocean soon. Great product.

Lifetime Warranty
Sarah B. (Surfers Paradise, AU)
Love it!

Amazing product ! Have the electra package, kids love it. So easy to use. Highly recommend

(DRAFT) Diving Dry Snorkel Set with GoPro mount
Jennifer M. (Brisbane, AU)
Love it

Bought these for myself and my husband after getting the full face masks for the kids, and they were so good we’re getting them for the rest of the extended family for Xmas. The fact u can dive down and not get water down ur snorkel is a brilliant bonus! Makes our family holidays much easier and better without snorkel dramas!

This made our holiday

The product itself was amazing, but the service we received allowed us to get our 2 sets of masks for our cruise. We took them with us and used them multiple times for snorkelling on our cruise to Nouméa and New Caledonia. It was amazing snorkelling and being able to breathe easily, and the fins were the most comfortable I've ever used. I've got size 13 feet, and not only were they completely adjustable, but they were THE most comfortable fins ever invented. A massive shoutout to Colleen Zamora from your support staff who helped me out and made it possible to take our gear on holidays! Thanks Colleen!
The photo is us snorkelling off Amadee Island looking for turtles!

My kids love them

I’ve got three of these masks for my younger kids, however the oldest wants one too as the young ones rave about how good the are.

Summer Family Fun

Our Ninja masks have made snorkelling as a whole family very easy and enjoyable. The kids (and parents) find them super easy to use and have allowed us as a family of five to snorkel for longer than we ever could using traditional snorkel gear. I would highly recommend these masks.

Lifetime Warranty
Geri D. (Sydney, AU)
Lifetime warranty

Glad I have but haven’t needed to use .. yet

Great Mask

Love this mask. Kids find it so much easier snorkelling with the Ninja Shark. The snorkel mask is super clear and doesn’t fog up. The adjustable straps are great and easy to loosen and tighten. Very happy that we made the decision to get these for the kids.

A must for snorkelers!

Recently purchased the Equaliser Pro Mask, Finns and bag. 🤿 🐠🐡🐟🦈 Had an amazing time snorkeling off Fitzroy Island, the Pro mask allowed me to explore for over 7 hours. Higly recommend! Planning must next snorkeling trip! 🤿💦🌴☀️


we used our new masks over the weekend. they were amazing, my daughter barely had her head out of the water all day.

Lifetime Warranty
Lina J. (Gold Coast, AU)
life warranty

This is great! More stores should do it!

Lifetime Warranty
Olivia (Perth, AU)
Fantastic snorkel!

Our 5 year old has never snorkelled. Put it on and was snorkelling no problem straight away! Easy for him to put on and off by himself. We bought the full package with flippers (also amazing and he can put them on by himself) and the two wet bags. The foldable snorkel is so handy for storing while we are travelling. And the lifetime warranty gives us great comfort that we can use it for future trips! We are so impressed with this product I’m going to get mum and dad one too!