+1 on a simple snorkel. Not so +1 on the mask skirt issue. IMHO, it's one of those Ford vs. Chevy things - y'know, it's not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that.
Most clear skirts cloud up over time due to use. In all of my diving
with a clear (sic) skirt, it's never bothered me. But if a black frame and skirt makes your day, go for it. What does
matter is the seal.
There is nothing more annoying than a mask that doesn't seal well. Three things play a role here and two you're kinda stuck with. The easy one first: if you have a moustache, you've got a problem because the skirt will never really seal well. You can trim a little of the top of the moustache, you can try putting KY or silicon jelly on it (NEVER use Vaseline or other petroleum jellies!!! It'll rot
the skirt!!!), you can shave it off, or get good at clearing your mask in the water. I'm good with mask clearing but the slow leaks
can still be a pain (some days the mask seals
well, some days it doesn't). The other two factors: 1) face and skull shape - we're all different; some masks are better with wide faces, some aren't, etc. and, 2) some of us have more wrinkles than others and they're in different places; water can wick in along some wrinkles.
The best test for a mask is to stick it on your face, inhale through your nose, and see how well the mask stays on without the strap. A really good seal will be pretty obvious, as will a really bad seal. Some masks, unfortunately, won't really show their true behavior until you're in the water. So it goes.
(Added hint: believe it or not, a loose mask strap generally seals
better than yanking the thing so tight your brain tries to pop out of your ears. Make sure the strap runs across the "knot" at the back of your head
and not down at the top of you neck. Again, the fit and seal will be better.)
There are, of course, all manner of mask gimmicks. You can get filters that supposedly shift color balance towards the red, for example. A simple mask with two lenses will do it for most folks. Oh, yeah, and you can either buy stick-on lenses (for reading gauges) or have lenses made for some (but not all) frames. I have a bi-focal lens set which works nicely for my eyes. YMMV, of course.
One final bit of advice - don't buy a mask, snorkel, fin set, even if Jacques (or Phillipe) Cousteau personally autographed the box. Take the time to get gear
that fits you properly. It's the difference between "WOW!!! Snorkelling is sooooo cool" and "Gasp! Sputter! Dis sux!!!".
Added nose squeezing: Hoo boy... clearing (or popping) your ears. For some people, all that's needed is to swallow and things are fine. For some people, it's a major undertaking. I'm lucky in that a simple swallow gets it done for me. A couple of tips here: first, clear early and often. Second, ear squeeze can happen in as little as 5-6 feet down (easy swimming pool depth). Clearing soon and often is important because once the bits and pieces in your head
that are saying "free me up!!" become harder to clear the longer you wait.
NEVER, EVER wear ear plugs! Once again, NEVER, EVER wear ear plugs! If you're worried about infections, there are a number of OTC products to disinfect your ears after snorkelling or diving. Plugs will not help here and it's too easy for them to pop into the ear canal
and possibly rupture an ear drum. And that you really don't want to know about. I rescued a diver who popped an ear drum (poor clearing brought on by terrible depth
control, if you want to know) and it wasn't pretty.