Do You Need a Wetsuit for Snorkeling?


Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Snorkel Ken

PC: eBay

Our answer to this question is:  Not for the places where we snorkel.

If you’re snorkeling in tropical areas such as the Maldives, Hawaii, Bahamas, etc, then you will not usually need a wetsuit.

The only time that we have ever worn a wetsuit while snorkeling is when we went on snorkel tours; one a dolphin/turtle/snorkel tour off of Oahu and the second was our night snorkel with the Manta Rays on the Big Island.

Usually you will not see people wearing wet suits while simply snorkeling.  And in the case of the two tours that we did above, they were supplied by the tour company…more for the experience from what I gathered…but maybe not…

I was just reading a TripAdvisor forum thread and someone mentioned that it is regulation of the US Navy that anyone in water below 86 degrees for an hour or longer wear a wetsuit.

Again, do you need a wetsuit?  I feel no.  Not for the tropics. Now, if you’re snorkeling in, say Massachusetts, then yes.  Probably very much so.

But wait…there’s more!

I did notice, however, that on the night snorkel we wore O’neil wetsuits and they did a lot more buoyancy in the water so that it was a little easier.  So, if you wanted a little extra “float action” then a wetsuit is a good idea…

Plus, they look cool and make you look good

You feel like a real snorkeler with a wetsuit and they’re like the “spanks of the sea”…in most cases.  They work for some people, is all I’m saying.

To Sum up the Benefits of a Wet Suit for Snorkeling:

  • Thermal insulation when needed.
  • Extra buoyancy
  • They look  cool in pictures
  • They pack you in and make you look really good.

That’s how we would answer “Do you need a wetsuit for snorkeling?” in about 300 words.  Our team doesn’t use them regularly as we snorkel around the Hawaiian Islands but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t or that it wouldn’t be of some great assistance.

Thanks for reading!


    • I would suggest a snorkel vest unless you’re prone to get chilly quickly. The wetsuit adds some buoyancy but not as much safety and stability, Brett.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I a beginner. I already have a 3 mil full body wet suit I plan to wear. Your previous comment about the safety of a vest makes me wonder if a vest in addition to a wet suit might be a good idea. I had also considered a pull behind boogie board for safety, a rest platform, and more boat visibility. Thoughts? I plan on winter time snorkeling in the Caribbean

    • Gary,

      I recommend whatever makes you feel more comfortable and enjoy snorkeling the most. If that means a wetsuit, snorkel vest and pull along float to rest on, then go ahead. I would start with the snorkel vest as it really does minimize the effort and may be enough “rest” for you.

      Thanks for stopping by!



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