Why Fins are Used for Scuba Diving
For avid scuba divers, scuba fins are a necessity to conserve energy and ensure that a scuba diving expedition isn't cut short by cramps or injuries. There are two main types of scuba fins that are appropriate for different diving conditions. For Key West scuba diving, where the water tends to be warm, full-footed fins provide support and close-fitting comfort without the need for insulating dive booties. The other type of scuba fins are open-heeled fins, which tend to run a size or two larger to accommodate a pair of dive booties. These fins work well in colder climates where a diver requires proper heat insulation to regulate body temperature.
Owning one or more pairs of scuba fins prevents divers from having to rent fins that may or may not fit correctly or provide adequate underwater propulsion. Scuba rental shops often only carry a slim selection of fins in each size, and divers with particularly large or small feet can end up renting fins that are less than ideal. As part of a complete set of diving equipment, extra fins can certainly mean the difference between an average dive and an extraordinary one. Not only should you pay attention to the type of heel support provided by the fins, but you should take a moment to think about the length of the fin you'll need for your dive.
Long fins provide better propulsion but can sometimes offer less control than shorter fins. When exploring a coral reef or natural underwater structure, short fins allow you to change direction easily in a tight space. For longer stretches of swimming, long fins help you conserve energy and prevent muscle soreness that can quickly send you back up to the surface. You probably wouldn't want to use long fins for dives where most of your time is spent in a relatively small area, viewing the vibrant marine ecosystem. On the other hand, trying to swim with a pod of dolphins would be next to impossible with fins that aren't long enough.
Another consideration is the average temperature underwater. Open-heeled fins allow you to wear insulating dive booties, whereas full-footed fins should fit your feet like a pair of slippers. Many divers opt for a pair of neoprene dive socks while wearing full-footed fins to prevent blisters, which can certainly ruin an otherwise incredible dive. Unlike dive booties, neoprene socks don't insulate body heat, so they would be ideal for warm-water Key West scuba diving.
Not only does owning fins prevent injuries and ensure long, memorable dives, it saves money in the long run by eliminating rental fees. While there's not a big difference in price between open-heeled and full-footed fins, the cost of dive booties tends to drive up the net cost of using open-heeled fins. To prevent cramps, blisters, soreness and injuries on a Key West scuba diving trip, it's important to buy fins that are the right length and fit properly, whether or not you plan on wearing neoprene diving socks.