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I went to the Galapagos Islands in 2010 and I was spending two weeks on a boat traveling from island to island and, of course, had the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the islands which is one of the best places in the world to observe underwater life (I have been assured of this by people that know!). I had never snorkelled or before and I was a little apprehensive about doing so, but it did seem silly to go all that way and not take part in the snorkelling and see a world that is usually so hidden from me. The company I went with advised that we bought out own masks so that we could practice with them before getting out to the Galapagos and after a little research on the area, I opted for the Mares Kona Mask because it seemed to tick all of the boxes for me in terms of design, function and price. I was initially quoted about £20.00 from Water sports Warehouse (www.watersportswarehouse.co.uk), but I did eventually manage to buy it for considerably cheaper from the Scuba Store (www.scubastore.com) where it is currently selling for just £12.64 and so it is worth shopping around for them.
The mask itself does come in different colours, namely blue, black and yellow. I have the yellow one, simply because that was the colour I liked the most and it distinguished itself from my partners mask which is blue. The Mares Kona Mask is designed to be fitted comfortably to the face without exerting too much pressure on the face. The mask itself is plastic, but it has a silicone skirt which means that the mask kind of sits against the skin rather than digs into it. It is moulded to cover the nose but this whole skirting area is transparent. The fact that it doesn't press hard against my face means that it didn't feel claustrophobic and I've found that other masks that I tried on when I was on my trip actually made me feel a bit claustrophobic. There are buckles on the side which means you can adjust the strap to be tight enough - and adjustment is easy to do yourself when you are wearing the Mares Kona Mask. When the mask is fitted correctly, there is no leakage of water into the mask - although it's worth taking a minute to get the adjustment just right. I don't think this would be the best mask for anyone with a large face / head because it is just nicely snug on me and I have quite a small head.
I like the fact that the googles view is large and that there is literally no blind spots when you're wearing the mask and so everything is visible. After looking at other masks, this seemed to be the one that afforded me the best range of vision. The lenses are made of tempered glass and so they are perfectly safe to wear because if the glass was to break it would not shatter in the traditional sense and there would be no shards. In addition to this, I find that the glass stays really clean and it is not prone to smearing. All I found was that after being in the ocean I would rinse the mask off under the tap to remove any salt and this was literally all that was needed because without that the salt would crystallise on the lens.
Overall, I do recommend the Mares Kona mask for anyone who wants a fairly economical mask which also fits comfortably and functions well. It is important to remember that you do need to buy a snorkel to go with this because it doesn't come with the pack.