Can You Use Snorkeling Fins for Bodyboarding? (Explained)

Bodyboarding without fins is a challenging task and not as rewarding as you might hope.

Although most people think that all fins are equal, this is far from the truth.

Snorkeling and swimming fins have long soft blades, while bodyboarding fins tend to have shorter, stiffer blades.

So, Can You Use Snorkeling Fins for Bodyboarding?

Using fins with long soft blades, such as snorkeling fins for bodyboarding, will not perform as well as fins designed for the sport. However, that does not mean that you can’t use them at all.

Let’s take a look at how snorkeling fins and bodyboarding fins compare, as well as answer a few questions you may have on the topic.

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Can You Use Snorkeling Fins for Bodyboarding?

Can You Use Swim Fins for Bodyboarding?

It is possible to use swim fins for bodyboarding, but they are far from ideal and will greatly impact your performance and efficiency in the water.

Swim fins are designed to move large amounts of water with very little effort while your legs are beneath the surface of the ocean.

Bodyboarding fins, on the other hand, are designed for fast, powerful kicks near the water’s surface.

Because swim fins are long and soft, they reduce the effort needed to move forward but at the same time increase drag, are difficult to bring out of the water, and do not have the same thrust and acceleration as short, wide, and harder fins.

Can I Use Bodyboarding Fins for Snorkeling?

Just as you can use snorkeling fins for bodyboarding, you can use bodyboarding fins for snorkeling. However, they will require a lot more energy for a lot less progress.

Because bodyboarding fins are short and designed for fast bursts of energy, they will be difficult to use when snorkeling.

It is important to move slowly and fluidly when we snorkel, and bodyboarding fins disrupt this.

Because bodyboarding fins tend to float on the surface of the water, you will splash and disrupt the water as you kick.

Furthermore, because your fins are not only short but are not entirely submerged, you will not displace as much water as you would with larger fins, and therefore need to kick harder and exert more energy to obtain the same results.

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Difference Between Snorkeling Fins vs. Bodyboarding Fins

As you have likely gathered by now, there is a big difference between snorkeling fins and bodyboarding fins.

Although they are both used to propel us forward in the water, their designs and use cases are very different.

Bodyboarding FinsSnorkeling Fins
SizeXXS, XS, S, M, ML, L, XL, XXL.Correspond with shoe size.
PerformanceHigh acceleration and control. Perfect for quick bursts of power.More forward motion with less effort. Best for gliding with long fluid movements.
ShapeShort, wide blades.Long, narrower blades (although wider than swim fins).
MaterialSynthetic/ Organic rubber.Synthetic/ Organic rubber, hard/ soft plastics.
Surf ComfortabilityPerfect for bodyboarding as to its design.Not ideal for surfing as they are hard and too large, and therefore create too much drag and not enough acceleration.
Blade Length12 – 20 inches.15 – 25 inches

As bodyboarding fins are different from snorkeling fins, so do they both differ from swimming fins and freediving fins.

This demonstrates the importance of using fins suited for your activities.

Why Do I Need Special Fins for Bodyboarding?

Depending on who you ask the question to, you will find different answers.

If you ask an advanced bodyboarder if special fins are important for the sport, they will tell you that you without a doubt need bodyboarding fins if you want to bodyboard.

Ask a new bodyboarder, and there’s a good chance they will tell you that their swim fins work just fine.

The reason that more advanced bodyboarders will agree that you need special fins is simply that they are best designed for the sport.

Bodyboarding fins are short and wide, which reduces friction and increases acceleration.

They are also made with a stiffer blade to increase thrust and have large drainage holes for allowing water, sand, and small stones to move out.

You wouldn’t go out bodyboarding on a performance surfboard because it simply does not work as well, and in the same way, you should use the correct fins when bodyboarding.

What Fins Should I Use for Bodyboarding?

If you want to know what fins to get for bodyboarding, the simple answer is “bodyboarding fins”, however, the reality is not quite as simple.

Bodyboarding fins come in different sizes, with different blade lengths and blade stiffness, as well as with different cuts.

Although there are many choices, your bodyboarding fins should always check the following criteria:

  • The ankle strap is comfortable yet secure around your foot.
  • Your toes are not pushed up against the end of the foot pocket or squeezed on the bridge or sides.
  • The fins feel snug but not too tight. The fins should not feel loose.
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In summary, the best fins for bodyboarding will fit snug but not feel too tight, have short, wide, hard blades, and include large drainage holes for water, sand, and small stones to pass through.

What Are the Best Bodyboarding Fins?

The best bodyboarding fins for you will differ depending on what you want to use them for, your size, as well as your fitness and skill level.

Bodyboarding fins with longer blades will be easier to kick with; shorter blades are best for drop knee and acceleration, while fins such as the Tribe T1 and T2 are ideal for bodyboarders with wide feet.

If you are struggling to find a suitable pair of bodyboarding fins, you can take a look at some of our favorite bodyboarding fins on the market, as well as answer some fins-specific questions you may have.

The Pros of Using Snorkeling Fins for Bodyboarding

There aren’t many benefits of using snorkeling fins for bodyboarding. However, there are a few things that are worth talking about.

Snorkeling fins, thanks to their long, wide blades, require very little energy to move you forward.

This makes cutting through currents and making long paddles to the backline simple and speedy.

Apart from this, the only real advantage that snorkeling fins have while bodyboarding is that they are better than no fins at all.

Without fins, you will find it near impossible to make it to the backline. Snorkeling fins will help you with this.

The Cons of Using Snorkeling Fins for Bodyboarding

When it comes to the cons of using snorkeling fins for bodyboarding, they, surprisingly, far outweigh the pros.

After all, there is a reason we use bodyboarding fins and not fins made for snorkeling.

1. Drag

The greater the surface area of an object, the more friction it will experience when making contact with another surface.

In this case, these two surfaces are your fins and the water’s surface.

Because snorkeling fins are much larger than bodyboarding fins, they make more contact with the water and therefore create more drag.

Although this isn’t a problem when you paddle (because the blades move large amounts of water when you kick), they will significantly slow you down when you are riding waves.

Furthermore, lifting your feet out of the water to eliminate drag is not as easily done when they are heavier and twice the length.

2. Less Maneuverability

When we bodyboard, we need to be agile in the water. 

Not only do we need to be able to control our speed, direction, and stability with our fins, but we need to be able to quickly turn around to face oncoming sets or to drop into a late peaking wave.

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Snorkeling fins, because they are large, are difficult to turn around within water.

Although this is ideal for snorkeling because we are trying to be slow and quiet, this does not work for bodyboarding.

It can be dangerous to use fins that are too long in large surf as they will reduce your reaction time.

3. Snorkeling Fins Are Looser Than Bodyboarding Fins

Diving and snorkeling fins are interchangeable. Bodyboarding and snorkeling fins are not.

Snorkeling and diving fins are made to be looser to compensate for the immense amount of pressure experienced while under the water.

Because both of these sports are done slowly and fluidly, the fins don’t need to be a perfect snug fit.

Bodyboarding, on the other hand, is done in rough water, which can easily throw your fins from your feet, even when they are uncomfortably tight.

4. Not Budget Friendly

SCUBA diving has become somewhat of an “upper-class” hobby, and because of this, the gear is not cheap.

Although bodyboarding fins won’t put you back more than USD 50 – USD 100, snorkeling fins can easily be double that for the state-of-the-art designs.

5. Space

One advantage of bodyboarding over surfing is that bodyboarding takes up less space. 

Although you need fins, which you don’t for surfing, your board and fins are significantly smaller and lighter than a shortboard (let alone a 12 ft longboard).

Snorkeling fins are wider, longer, and heavier than bodyboarding fins, which starts to work away at the space advantage that bodyboarding gives you.

Do I Need Fins to Bodyboard?

You do not need to use fins to the bodyboard. However, using fins is highly recommended, and in some cases, not using them could be dangerous.

Without fins, you won’t be able to make it past the break and to the backline, nor will you be able to generate enough speed to get yourself onto a wave.

That being said, if you are new to bodyboarding and want to stay in shallow waters, then as long as you can stand, you can jump yourself onto the waves.

This is also true for larger shore-breaking waves (although these are not for the faint of heart).

Furthermore, bodyboarding without fins can be dangerous if you are in water too deep to stand.

Although you have your board and can easily float, without fins, you will struggle in a current.

Even a slight current can pull you away when you don’t have fins as your board is not buoyant enough to paddle with just your arms and feet efficiently.

You should always use fins when bodyboarding. Not only will it be safer, but you will find yourself using less energy and catching more waves.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to use any type of fin for bodyboarding. You don’t need to use fins for bodyboarding, but using the correct fins or no fins at all will take a lot of joy from the sport.

Snorkeling fins will slow you down on waves and make it difficult to maneuver in the water.

Furthermore, snorkeling fins are heavier and more expensive than bodyboarding fins, so unless you already have a pair in your wardrobe, it is best to get yourself a pair of fins that are specifically made for bodyboarding.

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