Snorkeling Gear and Scuba Diving Equipment – Tips by a Pro!

Caribbean scuba diving

Scuba diving equipment and snorkeling gear tips by:  Laura Jackson, a PADI certified dive instructor and travel counselor.

The photo of the author of post, Laura Jackson

Hello, everyone! My name is Laura and I come from the UK.  I have been an instructor since 2007 and have been lucky enough to dive into some beautiful places and see awesome creatures and wrecks.  My favorites include Mexico with Bull sharks, The Red Sea, St Lucia, Frogfish in Bali, the wrecks of Gozo, and Scapa Flow.

As a dive instructor, I am always asked about which is the best scuba diving gear to buy as a new diver. I wanted to tell you about a few bits of kit I have used and love, plus some tips for buying your scuba as a new diver.  Like with other things in life, it is an investment, your kit should last you for years, especially when you look after it and service it as required.

1. Mask and Snorkel Set

The first place to start is the mask (and snorkel).  You will probably know from your training that you don’t like water coming into your mask, maybe it didn’t fit properly and leaked through all your dives and you became a master of clearing it very early on.  As I wear glasses, I went for the Aqualung Look2 with the prescription lens. Cressi Focus is an alternative option you can go for.

Cressi Focus, Black

Cressi mask

I was able to try the mask on as my dive buddy had the same mask, with a normal lens and it fits like a dream.  I advise you to try masks on, go to your local dive shop, and buy from them as they will advise you on fit.  I started wearing contacts, so I also have the Oceanic shadow, I love the big field of visibility.

Oceanic Shadow Frameless Dive Mask, (Great for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling) (Shadow, All Black)

Oceanic mask

I have had (and lost) many snorkels in my time.  The Oceanic blast has served me well and so has the Cressi Mexico.  I am a fan of simple snorkels.

Cressi Adult Diving Dry Snorkel with Splash Guard and Top Valve | Supernova Dry Snorkel (All Black)

Cressi snorkel

2. Scuba Gear

The Scuba diving equipment that one diver has can differ so much from that of another.  Deciding on cold v warm water diving, is normally where I would start when I am talking divers through the right scuba diving kit to choose.  That is really important when looking at a set of Regulators, some are not for use in cold water.  You also need to make sure your travel BCD has the needed lift for when you then decide to dive in colder water.

It would be a great idea to make a scuba diving equipment list, compare the kit you learnt to dive in to what you are researching.

2.1. Scuba Regulators & BCD

With diving regulators, again think about what conditions you’ll be diving in and I wouldn’t always go for the entry-level set.  Go for the best you can afford and look after them. Scubapro regulators are what I would go for.

Scubapro MK2 EVO R195 Regulator

Scuba pro regulator

However, it will always come down to personal preference and of course color with some divers.  Remember, you have to feel comfortable in the kit you wear, especially the buoyancy compensator, suits, and fins and you need to seek expert advice if you are unsure.

It has taken 4 different BCDs over the years but for now, when I am warm water diving, I love this BCD, I prefer rear inflation, lightweight to pack and travel with plus the integrated weight system.

Scubapro HYDROS PRO BCD with BPI, Women, White, M

Scubapro

2.2. Dive Computers

When it comes to the best dive computer, do think about where you want your diving to be in a few years’ time – will you want to dive with Nitrox for example, and more specifically will you be diving a site regularly that makes the most of a nitrox fill.

Plus, what about going for a little luxury, like air integration?  For me, it was a luxury I am glad I went for.  The transmitter is permanently on my first stage, so if you only plan to rent scuba equipment when you are on holiday then it wouldn’t be worth it.  I recently upgraded from my trusted VT3 to an OCi as I could wear it as my daily watch too.

Oceanic OCi Wireless Dive Watch Computer – Watch Only For Scuba Diving – White

Oceanic dive watch

2.3. Dive Tank

A scuba tank is worthwhile when you dive locally, perhaps with a dive club. They can be expensive to buy and maintain with the required test and 02 cleanings with Nitrox, but again consider how much you plan to dive to see if it worth it to you.  It’s a great feeling to own your own kit, call your buddies and head out to the local dive site you love when it suits.  Personally, as a shorter person, I love the ‘dumpy’ 12l.

2.4. Fins – Not Flippers!

The scuba fins I would use depending on where I was diving and I have two sets of scuba fins.  I had a nice pair of open heel fins which I use with 5mm diving boots when I was on my annual holiday to Malta and at home as they git my dry suit too.

Aqua Lung EchoZip Ergo 5mm Boots Size 12

diving boots

When I was in the Caribbean I use a pair of Aqualung hot shots, I love the white, makes me easier to follow when I’m guiding certified divers.

Aqualung Express Adjustable Fins – White Arctic – Large/X-Large

AquaLung fins

The best scuba fins are again down to personal preference, I like a slightly stiffer pair and shorter than normal so they can fit in my dive bag.

2.5. Semi-Dry v Dry Suit

It’s not cold water diving that I don’t like, but being cold when I dive.  As a diver who spent many years in the cold Cornish waters of the UK, I learnt very quickly that selecting and investing in either a semi-dry or a dry scuba suit was key.  Both are great and have their own advantages.

I also take a hooded 2mm vest for an extra layer, just to add under my semi-dry for that second dive.   Make sure you take the proper training to be able to use your Dry suit safely.  I use a 5mm semi-dry and I would look to the Scuba pro range.  For me, they are comfortable and importantly practical.

Scubapro Definition Steamer 5mm Womens, Black Turquoise – M

Women dry suit

2.6. Weight Systems

Your diving weight belt is also another that you might like to think about. I felt very uncomfortable wearing block weights in a belt but didn’t like the feel of a harness.  I love a Scuba BCD with integrated weights and don’t like diving any other way now.

Aqualung Pro HD Weight Integrated BCD (Large)
Scuba BCD with integrated weights

2.7. Dive Bag

My gear bag has traveled the world with me and still looks new!  I also had a bag just for my regulators.

Aqua Lung Scuba Diving Medium Mariner Mesh Bag, Black
Aqua Lung bag

So that’s it for this blog, I hope you have been able to take a few ideas away with you and also like the kit I use too.

Visit Laura’s Facebook Business Page

Laura diving
Photo courtesy of Laura Jackson.

This article contains Amazon affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.


See Also:

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  3. Cozumel Cruise Port Guide
  4. Pros and Cons of Booking Cruise Ship Shore Excursions
  5. 25 Top Shore Excursion Packing List Items 

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