I have purchased equipment at warehouse clubs like Sam's, BJ's, CostCo. The main things to look for:
snorkel and mask that have baffles that allow you to expell water without taking the mask off
large fins, and preferrable adjustable
a mesh carrying bag is nice (breathable, so that the equipment dries
I even bought a wetsuit at Sam's. I was shocked at how check it was ($30). Works great so far!
We have been wondering about purchasing fins. We all ready have the mask and snorkel but we didn't know how bulky the fins would be. My DH wears a size 14 shoe. Please let me know if we should check out fins or not in your opinion.
We brought our own masks and snorkels and just rented fins, as needed (Grand Caymen-yes, Cozumel, Costa Maya-no; Belize-no, provided on our tour). They are just so bulky to pack, especially with a family of 4! Without fins, we still had one small suitcase with just beach stuff - snorkels, masks, goggles, water shoes..............
I just purchased the mask and snake tubing part of it for our grandaughters and myself at dicks sporting goods. i did not even look anywhere else and hope i did not pay too much. they look like really well made ones. we are not taking fins with us as it is too much to pack. we are flying from cleveland a family of 11. my husband is just going to use the ones provided on the captain marvins excursion in cayman and if he wants to he will rent in cozumel. he is not fussy. i did not want to particularly put something in my mouth that had been in someones mouth.
i guess we will rent the life jackets used for snorkeling in cozumel at chankanaaab. on captain marvins everything is provided. i purchased the really inexpensive snorkeling mask set for our 5, 8 and 10 year old grandchildren as two of them probably will not even use them that much and the 10 year old has a slight fear of deep water. i got them in cvs for $8. have a great time. i can not wait to go. we are going in july on victory to western carribean.
Patticake......what I've found is that it really doesn't matter what brand or how expensive your mask is (for casual snorkeling); what's important is the fit. Try out the masks before you go....a leaking mask could ruin your experience. You can try it out in a pool, or even the bathtub! We had to buy 4 different styles/brands of masks to get decent fits for my family......even then, my younger chld had such a narrow face, he had some leakage problems. In Belize, he used one of the masks provided, and it fit just fine! On our Mexican Riviera cruise, we took an excursion and the snorkeling equipment looked old; I was skeptical. We each found a mask that didn't leak! So, you just can't tell by looking or by the price.
For those worried about germs, you can just buy a snorkel if you don't want to spend money for the mask.