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Fins are an essential piece of diving kit, with every diver having a personal preference to the style which suits them best. Some divers opt for the traditional 'jet fin' style, which are large and fairly rigid, where as some divers like the more modern style 'split fins' which offer less water restriction whilst improving the power ratio.

A jellyfish is faster and more graceful than you are without fins underwater. Fins transform you from a slow moving, limbs flailing, underwater creature into a true denizen of the deep. They enable you to dart about with speed, mobility and efficiency.

How do you choose the right scuba diving fin for you?

When you walk into your local dive shop, or look online, the sheer variety of diving fins can seem overwhelming.

Flex fins, split fins, force fins, closed heel, open heel, the list goes on and on.

When it comes down to it there are really only 2 basic types of scuba diving fins. All fins are just variations on either one of these themes.

Types of Scuba Fins

Paddle Fins

The most common type of fin used in diving. Paddle fins can be cheap or expensive depending on the style, make and model. Different features, like flex points, can add significantly to the price.

A paddle scuba fin offers good mobility and agility. Overall it's a great choice for any diver.

A downside to the paddle style fin it that it has the most resistance and requires big strong leg kicks, which can tire a diver out and result in more air consumption.

Features like flex or pivot points can alter how much effort it takes, and when it comes to buying these more expensive fins I would suggest trying before buying if possible. At lest do as much homework as possible before laying out the cash.

Split Fins

The split fin has a blade which is split in half down the middle. When a scuba diver kicks, the split blade acts like a propeller to push the diver forward.

Split fins require less effort to kick and are good for divers whose leg strength might not be very strong, or who prefer short flutter style kicking.

Some divers feel that split fins aren't as effective when diving in strong currents.

Other Features of Scuba Fins

It's the features that manufacturers add to their specific fin design that makes the price start to rise.

Go on any scuba forum, or anywhere divers are talking, and you'll hear debate for or against any particular design feature.

It's always a matter of individual comfort and preference combined with each divers particular style whether a certain type of fin 'works' for them or not.

Things to consider before buying scuba fins


Are they comfortable? Comfort is paramount. Wear dive boots when trying on any fin you are considering to see how it feels.


We recently read that, a giant online shoe retailer, has a 30% return rate for improper fit, so the size question is not limited to swim fins. The question may be even more difficult with fins because a 'shoe' size is only part of the answer. The brand and type of neoprene boots you wear, particularly heavy soled or rock boots, will have as much effect on the selection of fin foot pocket as the shoe size. Some people, especially those with high arches, prefer a loose fit in their fin and others prefer a snug fit. Our recommendation is to make your 'best guess' following our size guides and rely upon The Scuba Doctor no hassles return policy.


Any fin will get you through the water. High performance racing tires and cheap discount store tires both let a car roll.

Buy what you can afford, and upgrade when you can.

Open or Closed Heel

A closed heel fin is usually used for snorkeling, however if you are doing very easy dives with minimal equipment in warm water, you can definitely use them.

Otherwise an open heel used with a bootie is better for most scuba diving.

Traveler or Drifter

Do you travel a lot when you dive, moving from spot to spot, always swimming? If so a dive fin designed to help you cover a lot of distance easily would be best.

Leg Strength

If you have stronger legs you should be able to use a stiffer more robust fin, If that's what you want.

The 2 biggest considerations in our opinion are comfort and price.

There's a lot of debate over fins. This is more agile than that, this is harder to kick than that, this makes me move faster than that, blah blah blah.

Yes the different features do affect performance. But if a fin isn't comfortable your dive will suck. If it's too expensive, you'll be too broke to buy air to dive with.

Think about what type of diving you mostly do and make a checklist of what you are looking for in scuba fins.

Try out a few different styles. If you rent gear, ask the dive shop if they have different style fins available, or ask other divers if you can try theirs.

For more information about Fin features please read our advice on choosing the right Fins for you in our Trusted Advice section.

Then buy the best pair you can afford from The Scuba Doctor.

Scuba Fins Buying Guide

Scuba Fins Buying Guide

Whether you are a sport diver, technical diver, freediver, spearo, or a happy holiday snorkeller, the need for a good set of fins is a prerequisite to propelling yourself through the water. Without them we are pretty much immobile, certainly in dive gear.

Oh, and in the dive world we don't call them flippers. Flipper was a dolphin and we don't take his name in vain! We call them fins.

Let's Get Started

Masks, fins and hoses at The Scuba Doctor
Masks, fins and hoses
at The Scuba Doctor
While the idea of fins is simple, the fin designs and options available to water-lovers are quite vast. When evaluating which fins will best meet your needs, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What sport do I plan on participating in, e.g. scuba diving, snorkelling, free diving, spear fishing, or swimming?
  • What temperature of water will I be exposed to?
  • Is propulsion important to me?

Sport-Specific Design

If a little fin is good, a lot must be better! As true as that statement sounds, it is actually quite incorrect. Fins are a sport-specific piece of equipment that can greatly affect how well you perform during your time in the water.


Recreational swimmers and snorkellers tend to fall into the "less is more" category when it comes to buying fins. The majority of swimmers and snorkellers don't need the bells and whistles that many fins offer. Typically, a more basic fin design will meet your needs. The length of fin needed by swimmers and snorkellers is typically shorter than those needed by scuba divers and are definitely shorter than those used by free divers.

If you feel like you are fighting your fins rather than being aided by them, then your fins are probably meatier than what you need. A simple smaller design is usually much better for swimmers and snorkellers.

Top Snorkelling Fins — Our most popular snorkelling fins are:
Cressi Pluma Full Foot Fins Cressi Pluma Full Foot Fins
The Cressi Pluma is our best selling full foot fin for snorkelling. We highly recommend them. They deliver high performance, extreme lightness and easy kicking, and astonishing comfort.

Check out our extensive range of Snorkelling Fins and Swimming Fins.

Scuba Diving

Scuba divers tend to desire more fin features than do recreational swimmers and snorkellers. Scuba divers are frequently more aware of the propulsion power offered by their fins. Scuba fins tend to be the same length or slightly longer than snorkelling and swimming fins, which means they require more leg strength and power to kick effectively.

Check out our extensive range of Scuba Diving Fins, or our selection of the Top 10 Best Diving Fins.

Freediving and Spearfishing

Free diving is a sport during which a person submerges to significant depths without the aid of an air supply. In order to help the diver to submerge and then surface on whatever air is in his/her lungs, free dive fins are designed to make the most out of each kick. All of the same principles apply to those spearfishing.

The spearfish and freediving fins are considerably longer than swimming/snorkelling and scuba diving fins in order to move the diver the greatest distance with the least amount of kicks. Typically, longer fins offer more resistance, which gives the free diver more bang for his/her buck, which is why freediving and spearfishing fins are so much longer than fins for other water sports.

Top Apnea Fins — Our most popular freediving and spearfishing fins are:
Cressi Gara Modular Full Foot Fins Cressi Gara Modular Full Foot Fins
RRP: $199, Our Price: $179, You Save $20 (10%).
The long blade and comfortable foot-pocket system makes this a perfect fin choice for deep freediving and spearfishing. Some scuba divers also like using these fins.

Check out our extensive range of Freediving Fins and Spearfishing Fins.

The Anatomy of a Dive Fin

Anatomy of a Dive Fin

Foot Pocket

Water temperature can greatly affect the gear needed by divers. The gear you wear can be a factor in determining the fins you take into the water with you.

Fin Foot Pocket Types
Left: Open Heel Fins, Right: Full Foot Fins

Open Heel Fins

If you are in cold water, you will be in more exposure protection gear, including boots or booties. If you dive wearing boots (either neoprene or hard sole), an open heel fins is definitely what you'll want to wear. An open heel pocket accommodates boots because the heel strap wasp around the back of the diver's boot and can be adjusted to offer a comfortable fit.

If you wear rigid-sole boots, the open heel foot pocket will easily accommodate your boot's stiff sole and heel support. Rigid boot soles and heels also help keep the fin strap from slipping off of your heel.

Full Foot Fins

If you are in warm water, you are less likely to wear gear that will protect you from the elements. Therefore, you are less likely to wear boots into the water. Without the need for boots, you won't need to wear open heel fins.

Closed full foot fins encompass your entire foot, much like a slipper. If the fin rubs against your ankle bone, it is too big or the wrong design for your foot. On the other hand, if your feet start to tingle while wearing your fins, they are too small.

Even in the temperate (colder) waters of Southern Australia, many freedivers, spearfishers and snorkellers prefer to use full foot fins. They typically put 3 or 5 mm neoprene socks on their feet to provide some thermal protection and buy fins sized to accommodate their foot with the socks on. However, if your entry or exit is over rough or sharp ground then the socks won't provide enough protection, which means boots and open heel fins are required.


Blade FinsScuba divers are serious about their kicking ability and underwater thrust. Fin science has taken kicking to a new level. Scuba diving fins now offer features like channels and split fin designs.

Blade Fins

Traditional plastic blade fins are the least expensive, but offer good performance. Most entry level fins are constructed this way. They are usually highly durable and reasonably light for the traveling diver.

If you're a no fuss, no frills diver or snorkeller then blade fins are highly appropriate.

Top Blade Fins — Our best selling blade fins are:
Cressi Pro Light Fins - Open Heel Cressi Pro Light Fins - Open Heel
RRP: $119, Our Price: $105, You Save $14 (12%).
The blade is extremely flexible and has snap requiring less kicking effort. The side stringers that extend all along the blade and two flaps situated along the end of the blade itself make the fin very directional.

Channel Fins

Channel FinsRubber channels are inserted into the blade so the fin effectively funnels the water behind you as you kick down. Channels help move the water across or through the fin, which allow the diver to move through the water quite rapidly. Channels increase the diver's speed because they offer less surface area resistance in the water. Additionally, channels (depending upon their placement) offer extra fin flexibility, which means the fin can bend further and move more water with each kick cycle.

Top Channel Fins — Our best selling channel fins are:
Mares Avanti Quattro Plus Fins - Open Heel with Bungee Straps Mares Avanti Quattro Plus Fins - Open Heel with Bungee Straps
RRP: $279, Our Price: $249, You Save $30 (11%).
These legendary fins now come equipped with the patented Mares heel bungee straps which increase diver safety and provides fast and easy donning and doffing. The sturdy blade and flexible tip of the Mares Quattro+ produce a propulsive snap that rockets a diver through the water.

Split Fins

Split FinsThe theory behind split fins is as the diver kicks his/her foot downward, the water channels through the split and creates a spring-like action that resembles the physics of a dolphin or whale's tail. This action increases each kick's power and effectiveness while reducing the amount of fatigue that the diver experiences. Split fins are also very popular among divers who experience knee pain or have had knee surgery. The split fin reduces the amount of resistance felt by the diver's joints while offering a great deal of effectiveness with each kick.

Many experienced diver's criticise split fins citing various reasons. Yet split fin designs have consistently outperformed other fin designs in independent test over many years. Split fins require a flutter kick action to work at their optimum potential. We believe most of the critics have failed to adapt their kick action when they've tried split fins, and instead have used their more traditional fin action. The result is much lower performance than happens when you use the correct flutter kick action for split fins.

Top Split Fins — Our favourite split fins are the
Apollo Bio-Fin Pro Fins with Spring Straps (Black) Free Offer Apollo Bio-Fin Pro Fins with Spring Straps (Black) Free Offer
RRP: $395, Our Price: $335, You Save $60 (15%).
Any way you slice it, these fins are the pack leader. They fins generate ear-bending speed and power with virtually no leg stress, are responsive in turns, and nimble when negotiating tight places. Plus they are comfortable and easy to use.

Which Fins?

Scuba Fin Accessories

Fins are a very basic piece of equipment, but that doesn't mean they are without need from time to time. Below are some fin-related accessories that will enhance your time in the water and extend the life of your fins.

Spring Straps

If you have ever fought with rubber fin straps and lost the battle on more than one occasion, spring fin straps might be the way for you to win the war. We love them.

Utility Straps

At the end of a shore dive, most divers begin ditching their gear when they are approximately waist-deep in the water. Fatigue and the juggling act that accompanies gear ditching can result in dropped fins. Safely clip your fins to your BCD with a utility strap.

Permanent Marker

Make sure the gear you pick up is yours — make sure the gear others pick up isn't yours. Use a waterproof permanent marker to put your name or contact information on your dive gear.

Fin Bag

By keeping your gear organised and separated, you'll be ready to hit the water in a timely manner. Fin bags also keep your fins from damage.

Replacement Straps

If your fin strap breaks or is worn out, it is time to make a change. If you're on the beach without a backup, say goodbye to your time in the water. This simple piece of replacement gear is priceless when needed.

Save-a-Dive Kit

The last thing you want to do is find out on the beach or dive boat that something is wrong with your gear, and not have a way to fix the problem. By carrying a save-a-dive kit, you can still safely enjoy your dive or snorkelling adventure just like you planned.

Check out our Fin Accessories section to make sure you have the fin bits and pieces you need.

What Size Fins Do I Need?

For full-foot fins, your shoe size is the best guide to your fin size. For open heel fins being used with dive boots, it's more complicated.

Unlike shoes, the question is difficult to answer with open heel fins because a 'shoe' size is only part of the answer. The brand and type of neoprene dive bootie you wear, particularly if you wear heavy soled or rock boots, will have as much effect on the selection of the size of your open heel fin foot pocket as the shoe size. Some people, especially those with high arches, prefer a loose fit in their fin and others prefer a snug fit. Fitting drysuit boots in the very large sizes is especially problematic.

There is no size standardisation between brands of fins (or sometimes even between different models from the same brand) and so you cannot assume that a size in one brand of fin is the same dimensions as the size in another brand; even when the designs look very similar. Taking some actual measurements of your boot while on your foot and comparing to our foot pocket dimension charts will help determine the size selection for your desired fit.

Please do you best to determine your correct fin size before you order! If you are not certain about your fin size then our recommendation is not to order until you can obtain that information. While The Scuba Doctor will accept fins for return, you will be responsible for return shipping costs both ways. Return shipping costs on fins can be expensive because fins are a relatively low priced item that has a high 'dimensional weight'. Your complete satisfaction is our goal, so please consider carefully before purchase.


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