5 Best Scuba Diving Fins (PADI Divemaster Tested 2023)

Written and Reviewed By

Scuba fins greatly enhance a diver’s maneuverability and speed underwater. Depending on what type of diving you’re doing (boat vs shore) or where you’re diving (currents vs caves vs wrecks), certain fins make more sense than others.

Getting fins of your own makes financial sense if you’re diving a lot, as you’ll save on rental fees, eventually paying for themselves.

However, the idea of purchasing fins online can be a scary thought.

For this reason, I wanted to put together a list of the best scuba diving fins based on my experience as a PADI Divemaster working in South Florida’s scuba diving industry, as well as explain what type of diver each fin is best for.

During my fin selection process, I focused on important factors such as:

  • Propulsion efficiency and thrust
  • Comfort and fit
  • Fin blade design and materials
  • Durability and performance
  • Open heel vs. closed heel
  • Brand reputation and customer feedback
  • Additional features like adjustable straps or quick-release buckles
  • And much more!

In the following sections, I’ll dive straight into my scuba fin reviews, followed by a detailed buying guide and frequently asked questions that come up when buying scuba fins.

Let’s kick into the current and explore the best scuba diving fins on the market in 2023!

Contents

Best Scuba Diving Fins

  1. Best Overall: Apeks RK3
  2. Lightest & Most Flexible: Mares Avanti Quattro Plus
  3. Most Innovative: ScubaPro Seawing
  4. Best Closed Heel Fin: Mares Volo Race
  5. Best Travel Fin: ScubaPro Go Travel Fins
  6. Best Freediving Fin: Cressi Gara

Open Heeled Fins

Open-heel fins are in my opinion, the best fins for scuba diving. Often worn with dive boots, these fins offer excellent comfort and power.

As they’re designed to work with dive boots the pockets will be a lot larger than the closed-heel fins.

You can wear these without booties but since the material is normally a harder plastic, you will probably want to wear booties.

Open-heel fins are often chosen for the reason that you wear booties with them.

For shore diving with a lot of sharp rocks and/ or sea urchins, it is nice to have booties on to walk out and the open-heel fins can easily slip/ clip on and off.

Lastly, with these booties, your feet will stay warmer for extended periods of time underwater. This is especially relevant when diving in colder water.

1. Best Fin Overall

Product Specs:

Socket

Material

Flexibility

Open Heel

Rubber

Medium

Straps

Weight

Length

Steel Springs

2.5lbs Each

19.3″ – 22.4″

Pros:

Popular among military and professional divers

Good propulsion & maneuverability

Wider blade for improved forward thrust

Cons:

Recreational divers may find them heavy

Short fin length makes it difficult to chase fish (spearfishing)

Heavy

My top pick scuba diving fins, is my personal fin, the Apeks RK3s. The RK3 regular comes in lots of vibrant colors and is a very lightweight fin. Slightly less stiff than others on this list, it is still enough for most people.

They have a very comfortable foot pocket that is perfect for strong currents and harsh conditions.

The vented blades produce plenty of power and are loved within technical diving and dry suit diving for this reason.

As they are open-heeled fins, they’re meant to be used with a dive boot.

Apeks RK3 HD, example of open heel fins

The RK3 HD is a higher-density material which results in a heavier and thicker fin. Both are incredibly durable and come with spring straps. They come in a few different colors to meet your needs and depending on the size they weigh around just over 2.5 lbs (1 kg) each.

2. Lightest and Most Flexible

Mares Avanti Quattro Plus

4.5 Reviews

Product Specs:

Socket

Material

Flexibility

Open Heel

Rubber/Tecralene

High

Straps

Weight

Length

Bungee

2lbs Each

27.8 inches

Pros:

One of the most popular diving fins

Greater responsiveness and thrusting power

The efficiency is increased with the new flexible material

These also have four channels for 4x the power

Versatile! Great for all dive conditions & abilities

Cons:

Some divers find them a little on the large side

They tale up a lot of room in the suitcase

Pricier

Another great fin on the list is the incredible Mares Avanti Quattro. I’ve traveled all over the world and I have often come across this model as the go-to fin for dive centers. 

As soon as you pick them up, you can feel that they really are made to last. They are strong, robust, and on top of that surprisingly light for such a well-manufactured fin.

They are flexible and easy to maneuver. They generate power effortlessly and have helped me in a strong current more than once. 

The bungee straps with the thumb loops make them easy to pull on and off, a great feature when entering from the shore.

The price is a little on the high side and they do take up a bit of space in your suitcase but they look great and perform equally as well.

In my opinion, they are well worth the investment if you are a serious diver.

I recommend them for beginners to intermediates but a more advanced diver might want to go for a more specialized fin such as the Apeks RK3’s.

Best Travel Fin

Scubapro GO Travel Fins

$110.00
Pros:
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Sturdy Strap
  • Versatile
  • High Performance
Cons:
  • Not meant for very wide feet
  • Price
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03/09/2024 04:03 am GMT

Best for: Budget & Travel  | Socket: Open Heel | Material: Monoprene | Flexibility: Low | Straps: Bungee |  Weight: 2.5 lbs | Sizes: XS-XL | Buoyancy: Positive

Next on the list are the Scuba Pro Go travel fins. I have had the privilege of traveling several times with these great little fins. As the name suggests they are designed to endure all the wear and tear of the globe-trotting scuba diver and yet still light enough to stick in your travel bag with ease.

Straight away you can feel they are sturdy and robust with just enough flexibility to make them a great all-round fin. They are perfect for scuba, snorkeling, and even surface swimming.
I found the barefoot open-heel design to be comfortable and really easy to get on and off due to the easy-to-adjust bungee strap.

For extra comfort, you can even wear neoprene socks but from my experience, it’s definitely not a must and may even take away from the simplicity of the design.

Personally, I have always found these fins to cover all my needs exceptionally. They are powerful, provide stability and maneuverability, and because of their 100% monoplane build, feel almost indestructible.

Pros:

  • High quality
  • Multiple uses
  • Easy to put on
  • Lightweight
  • Great for travel
  • Easily disassemblable

Cons:

  • Not the most powerful
  • Not latest fin tech
Most Power

Scubapro Seawing Nova

4.7
$260.00
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03/08/2024 10:07 pm GMT

Best for: Power & Speed | Socket: Open Heel | Material: Rubber/Tecralene | Flexibility: High | Straps: Bungee |  Weight: 3.45lbs each | Sizes: S-XL | Buoyancy: Positive

Yet another entry from ScubaPro is the Seawing Nova.

This is a very popular fin amongst avid scuba divers. It’s a fin that will definitely get you noticed with its unique design and the bright color on offer.

I have tried these on various occasions and right away you notice the build quality. Made from 100% Monoplane, they feel strong and robust yet flexible. The patented articulated hinge allows the entire blade to flex and pivot, generating power and speed when necessary.

And boy can you feel it!

Getting them on and off couldn’t be easier due to the adequate foot space and self-adjusting strap. But make sure you size them correctly otherwise they will sit tightly on your feet.

To me, it almost feels like you’re wearing split fins in terms of comfort and efficiency but in reality, you feel the power, acceleration, and maneuverability of a single blade making them both great for cruising along the reef and yet still produce power and thrust when needed, especially in strong currents.

The Scuba Pro Seawing Nova is the perfect fin to control your dive in all situations.

Pros:

  • Extremely high quality construction
  • Comes in a lot of fun colors

Cons:

  • Very pricey
  • Somewhat heavy

Closed Heel Fin

Closed heel fins are full rubber pockets that completely cover the whole heel of the diver. They are generally thought of as snorkeling fin or freediving fins.

They are great for warm waters where you do not need a boot as they are a snug fit. Neoprene socks do work well with these if the fin pocket is too big and/ or it is in colder water. Some divers enjoy the ease of getting them on and off (it takes a bit of practice).

We’ve only included one closed heel short blade fin here, but for more full foot fins check out our guide to the top fins for snorkeling as we’ve reviewed several closed heel options that are also great for scuba diving too.

Any of the scuba brands such as Cressi, Mares, and ScubaPro produce some excellent full-foot fins for scuba and snorkeling.

Best Full Foot Fin

Best for: Budget Divers  | Socket: Full Foot | Material: Thermoplastic Rubber | Flexibility: High | Straps: N/A |  Weight: 1.43 lbs each | Sizes: 3-11 US | Buoyancy: Positive

Mares makes another appearance with the Mares Volo Race. They are the only full-foot scuba fin on the list and they are a great budget set of fins

I have come across these a few times on my travels and have found them to be extremely versatile. I have used them for scuba, snorkeling, and even a little shallow freediving now and again. Right away you notice how light they are making them the ultimate choice for travel.

Since you won’t wear boots, these are more suited to warm water environments. I found the anatomically designed foot pocket to be both secure and really comfortable.

They are effortless to kick but because of that, it does feel that you sacrifice some power. Although the channels do provide good direction and stability. Overall I found the Mares Volo Race to be a good performer and reasonably powerful with minimal effort. They are definitely worth a try if you are looking to travel light.

Pros:

  • Great looking affordable fin
  • High performing versatile set of fins
  • Very good power, and with less effort
  • Soft anatomical foot pocket
  • Rubber covered stabilizers provide improved performance
  • Also a great choice for snorkelers
  • Another good travel fin

Cons:

  • Not really suitable for cold water diving

Freediving Fins

Freediving fins are much longer than scuba fins. They come in plastic, fiberglass, and carbon fiber with different stiffness for each material.

With this type of variability, it can make them harder to maneuver in tight spaces and navigate around the reef (if you are not very familiar with them) so we don’t recommend them for scuba diving unless you are used to them.

The price range also goes from 500 USD for a top-end carbon fiber (which is more delicate) to 100USD for a solid pair of plastic fins. The lower range ones are more durable and would be a better pair for scuba.

Some scuba divers even prefer to use freediving fins for scuba since you can get a lot more propulsion and long as you are not getting into a wreck they can be a good option. We’ve included a few of the best options here.

Best Freediving Fins

Cressi Gara

4.5
$132.00
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03/08/2024 10:19 pm GMT

Best for: Spearfishers and Freedivers  | Socket: Full Foot | Material: High-modulus propylene | Flexibility: High | Straps: N/A |  Weight: 4.4 lbs | Sizes: XS-XL | Buoyancy: Positive

In my opinion, these fins are too long for scuba (but I have seen some people use them), and they are a huge favorite for freedivers and spearfishers. 

These long fins are high quality, as Cressi specializes in this sort of thing. For the price and durability of these fins, they can’t be beaten. 

These fins come with interchangeable blades and you can just detach them from the foot pockets when you are ready for an upgrade you can slip in some fiberglass or carbon blades with ease.

Usually, beginners or a spearfisher, like this plastic as it can take a beating against rock and sand, and you don’t have to worry about breaking them.

The pocket is slightly wider on these fins (normal for freediving fins), so we suggest wearing neoprene socks to fill them out a little. If that, or vaseline doesn’t work try a hairdryer on them to loosen the rubber and mold them to your feet.

Overall these are really good fins and well worth the money.

Pros:

  • Fast for spearfishing
  • Attractive long fins
  • Good value for money
  • Light weight and very reactive
  • Increased performance and manoeuvrability
  • Long blades maximize thrust, minimizing work
  • Used by many world-class free diving competitors

Cons:

  • Some divers find them a little on the large side
  • They tale up a lot of room in the suitcase

Why Get Your Own Fins?

Having scuba diving fins that are comfortable and are also effective is one of the best ways to enhance your scuba diving experience.

When chosen correctly, they can even help with reducing air consumption when combined with proper finning techniques. Another benefit when owning your own fins is that you can actually practice your finning and trim on your own in a pool or any body of water.

This will allow you to be more agile in the water and in turn, allows you to be able to see more without disturbing the environment. This way you can protect the wildlife while still getting the most out of your dive. 

Most SCUBA shops have very durable fins that can take punishment and are not meant for efficiency. This is not a knock on them, they are good fins, just not the best.

Scuba Fins Buying Guide

Still not sure what one to go with, with all these great options? There are a few factors to consider when choosing the perfect fins for you.

First of all, when you buy your own gear you will save on renting gear. You will also get accustomed to them and become more efficient so you will use less air and your dives will be longer.

These are just two of the benefits below I will go through some things to consider, and then I will just give my recommendations and all-time favorites, that you can’t go wrong with.

Are You Traveling?

If you are staying in one place and diving you can often opt for the heavier or larger fin. You have to think about this when traveling as some fins weigh up to 8 pounds for a pair.

This is a lot of weight and size for your luggage. If you dive a lot it is common to have a travel pair and an at-home pair.

Budget

Obviously, you should think about your budget, and check the prices in the links above, and that will be a big factor.

Since there are a lot of options around the same price, think about what can you afford now that meets your needs while still being within your budget. Look at it as an investment, not a purchase. A good pair of fins will last you years.

How Often Do You Dive?

If you are diving frequently, and are a Divemaster or instructor, you are going to want a good pair of fins that will last. A pair of fins that easily propel you, so that you can help customers and save energy go a long way.

If you are diving a few times a year, you don’t need the most expensive and top-of-the-line fins. Again though, if you get the nicer pair even if you dive less, they often will last longer and save you energy.

Type of Diving

Some people want to go into wrecks and use the frog kick, their different fins are better at this than others. If you are freediving and scuba, it may be wise to get a pair of freediving fins as they will work for scuba as well but scuba won’t work for freediving.

If you have the budget I would say to have a pair for smaller spaces/ more technical diving and a different one for the open water.

Maintenance & Storage

Do you have the space for these fins?

If you live in a small apartment or travel a lot this is something to think about.

You also want to make sure these are not left in direct sun or a wet and humid place for a long time. You’ve spent the money to buy these, make sure that they are taken care of.

Weight & Buoyancy

Weight and buoyancy are arguably the most important aspects of fins. Choosing fins with the right buoyancy can greatly help your trim in the water, and will assist in getting you fully horizontal.

For more info about getting your weight right, check out our weight buoyancy calculator.

While it’s not impossible to get into trim with too heavy or too light fins, it’s certainly much harder.

Too heavy of a fin and your feet will be pulled down.

Too light of a fin and your feet may go up.

As a very general rule:

  • Less exposure protection = lightweight fin
  • Thicker exposure protection = heavier fin

Again, this is a general rule.

Drysuit divers use very lightweight fins and warm water divers who use heavy ones. You’ll have to find what works best for you. Different configurations, such as side mount will change your needs.

Fins also range in their stiffness. The stiffer the fin is the more control and thrust you’ll get.

Diver underwater

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need fins when diving/freediving?

Fins are extremely important when it comes to scuba diving. With all the extra equipment we carry there is an increase in weight and drag and therefore it would be almost impossible to swim without fins. The fins increase the surface area around the foot which means we can push more water away from us propelling us forward. With fins, we can cover large areas with minimal effort. 

When it comes to free diving. The idea is to go underwater in the most efficient way possible, saving energy and of course oxygen. Freediving fins are designed with a much larger surface area and when used correctly mean that we can create maximum propulsion whilst using minimal energy. This will ensure that we can dive deeper and stay underwater for longer periods of time.

How do I choose the Right Scuba Diving Fin?

To be honest this is a tricky question to answer. It really depends on your preference, budget, and of course comfort.

If you are a complete beginner then it’s probably best to start with a more traditional model. Something like the standard paddle fin or a fin with channels like the Mares Avanti Quattro.

In the end, the best way to find out is by trying them out. If they feel good and suit your budget then they are probably the fins for you.

Should I Use Stiff or Flexibile Fins?

If you have a strong kick then you will find the stiffer blades provide an effective thrust that will propel you quickly through the water.  However, if you do not have such a strong kick then the stiffer fins can be very tiring.  You will find a softer, more flexible fin much easier to use and more effective.

What Color Fins Should I Buy?

This again is all about personal preference but there are a few things you might want to consider before you choose a color. 

Most Tech divers will choose black fins but as a recreational diver, you may want to think about a brighter color. That way other divers will be able to spot you with ease. Also, a bright color will be easier to spot if you drop a fin accidentally.

You may also want to consider a less common color so that you are more recognizable to your buddy and dive guide underwater. 

Freedivers also have a choice when it comes to color and design but spearfishes will often go for a camouflage fin to blend in with the surrounding area making the hunt a little easier.

Conclusion

Due to the differences in needs, desire, body structure, and other obvious factors, the best fins for one person might not be the best for another.

After reading this guide, we hope that you are able to make a more educated decision on the best fins for you.

For more information on closed-foot fins, why not take a look at our reviews on the best snorkeling fins available?

Do you have a favorite pair of fins for scuba diving?

Let us know in the comments!

Article Sources:

Best Scuba Diving Fins – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUZUedBJcXk

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2 Responses

  1. Nice review, I’m currently using the Tusa Hyflex Zoom Split fins, I like them but I find them difficult for certain kicks. So, I have now started looking into the Avanti Quattro Plus, the RK3 and the Deep 6 Eddy. I dive in tropical waters that can produce strong currents every so often. I was wondering what is you honest opinion I know you like your RK3’s, but would the Avanti Quattro’s be a better all-round for the conditions I described especially when going against current? I’m also in need of a neutrally buoyant fin and in my research the Avanti and the Deep 6 Eddy seem to be nearly the most buoyant out of the the three (Deep 6 Eddy, Avanti Quattro, and RK3).

    I appreciate your candid opinion.

    Tanyeus

    1. Hey Tanyeus,

      If you’re diving in strong currents, then perhaps the Quattros are going to be the better choice.

      What makes you want to have a neutrally buoyany fin? I’ve never worried too much about that.

      Safe diving.

      – Austin

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