Best places to snorkel hawaii

Snorkeling is an adventure activity that allows you to explore the underwater world on your own, without any scuba equipment. The beauty of snorkeling lies in its simplicity: get into the water with a mask and fins, and you’re ready to go.

Hawaii is one of the best places to snorkel in the world. The islands are surrounded by warm, clear waters that offer amazing opportunities for underwater exploration.

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Best places to snorkel in Hawaii Oahu

Snorkeling is one of the most popular, easily-accessible activities in Hawai‘i. It’s a fun, beginner-friendly way to experience the underwater world, with only a small learning curve required to enjoy it safely. With 112 miles of beautiful coastline and coral reefs full of tropical fish and sea turtles, you’re never far from a good snorkeling spot on O‘ahu.

Snorkeling is easy enough for anyone to do, but there are some things you should know before you go out into the water. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your mask fits properly—it should be able to sit comfortably around your eyes without touching them or leaving any gaps that could let water in. Your fins should also fit snugly without causing any discomfort or pain in your feet or ankles while walking around on land or swimming through water.

The following 11 snorkeling spots are what we consider the best places to go on O‘ahu.

AWEOWEO BEACH PARK

Often overlooked, Aweoweo is a great, quiet spot on the North Shore that is known for its turtle sightings.

Aweoweo is located in a residential neighborhood, so drive with care. Great for families, there are restrooms, picnic tables, a basketball court, a playground, and open green space.

HANAUMA BAY

A nature preserve, Hanauma Bay is excellent for families with small kids who want to snorkel in a safe, beautiful environment. Calm, shallow, and regulated by the State, Hanauma Bay is home to some of O‘ahu’s best coral and sea life. Lifeguards are always on duty, and conditions are usually calm.

Hanauma Bay can get very crowded, so it’s best to arrive before 8 a.m. or after 2 p.m. Watching a 9-minute safety video and paying a $7.50 entry fee is required.

SHARK’S COVE

Shark’s Cove is a naturally-protected swimming area that’s home to many fish, coral, and rock formations. It gets its name not because it’s overrun or frequented by sharks, but from the shape of the reef (apparently it looks like a shark from certain vantage points).

Sharks Cove is one of only three Marine Life Conservation Districts on O‘ahu (the other two are Hanauma Bay and the Diamond Head end of Waikīkī Beach), which means that the site will be especially plentiful in aquatic life and that the fish here are in general less afraid of human visitors.

Shark’s Cove is a summer-only snorkel spot, as conditions in the winter tend to be very rough. It can get very crowded and it can be hard to park, so it’s best to avoid arriving mid-day. Advanced snorkelers can go beyond the rock wall into deeper water to see bigger fish.

KUILIMA COVE

Unlike most North Shore locations, Kuilima Cove is a year-round destination thanks to a protective rock wall that blocks many of the waves (as always, conditions can vary, so always double check with a lifeguard before entering the water).

Kuilima is located adjacent to Turtle Bay Resort, filming site of several movies, including Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

TURTLE CANYON

Turtle Canyon is one of the most dependable places to see sea turtles on the south shore. It has many small dense coral formations and serves as a “cleaning station” for turtles, who come to have their shells cleaned by small fish.

KO OLINA LAGOONS

If you’re staying on the west side, it’s possible to snorkel in one of the four man-made lagoons at Koolina. The snorkeling areas are small and limited to the rocky sides, but they offer a safe, protected area for beginners and small children to see tropical fish.

Because the lagoons are calm, it’s a good place to practice fish identification. Bring a waterproof fish ID card with you.

LANIKAI BEACH

Lanikai is not a snorkeling destination per say, but there are some rocks and coral offshore, and the water is typically clear and calm. The best place to snorkel is near public beach accesses on Mokulua Drive at the intersections with Mokumanu Drive and Kaiolena Drive.

Lanikai a nice spot for kids and beginners to practice and get a feel for the water, but most advanced snorkelers will be underwhelmed. Because of the fine white sand in the bay visibility can be low, and the best places to snorkel are

WAIMEA BAY

This infamous surfing bay can look as calm as a swimming pool on summer days, giving snorkelers the chance to explore the rocks surrounding both sides of the bay. It’s part of the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District, which limits the amount of fishing and protects the local aquatic life. Sometimes, dolphins can be spotted in the bay.

Like Shark’s Cove, Waimea Bay is only suitable for snorkeling during the summer months due to high surf during the winter.

SANS SOUCI BEACH (WAIKĪKĪ)

Sans Souci Beach is the best place to snorkel in Waikīkī. It is part of the Sans Souci Recreational Park, which includes a the protected Waikīkī Marine Life Conservation District. Fishing is not allowed here which means that there are more fish for you to admire, and that these fish are not as fearful of human presence as they may be at other places.

ELECTRIC BEACH (KAHE POINT)

The “Electric Beach” snorkeling site sits just in front of the power plant on O‘ahu’s west side. There’s a long, underwater pipe that spits warm water from the plant into the ocean, a couple hundred yards offshore. The temperature difference attracts a wide range of wildlife, including large groupings of tropical fish and turtles, as well as the occasional shark.

KA‘ENA POINT STATE PARK

Ka‘ena Point is loaded with rocky coastline, offering many chances to explore and snorkel. The abundance of wildlife is not as high as say, Electric Beach, but the pleasure is in the details at Ka‘ena, where many small crustaceans and crabs can be spotted living in cracks of the rocks. The best place to access Ka‘ena is from the western side of the island, at the end of Farrington Highway at Yokohama Beach.

Best places to snorkel hawaii

Snorkeling in Hawaii is an experience that should not be missed!

The state’s crystal-clear waters, tropical weather and teeming sea life are just a few of the reasons why snorkeling in Hawaii is considered one of the best destinations for it. From Maui to Kauai, there’s almost no place like it.

Snorkeling in Maui offers some of the best opportunities for swimming with sea turtles. If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of the marine biology of Hawaii, join Ocean Ramsey’s research team in Oahu. Anini Beach on the island of Kauai provides snorkelers with access to the Rhe Honoiki reef, the largest coral reef in Hawaii. And if you want to walk away from your trip with a one-of-a-kind experience, swim at night with reef manta rays on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Here are the best places for snorkeling around the Hawaiian Islands, plus the specific sea life you can expect to see below the surface.

1. Fringing Reef – Molokai

Get here by boat or kayak and prepare to be wowed by the longest fringing reef in Hawaii, which attracts everything from hawksbill turtles to spotted eagle rays. Plan your trip during whale-watching season (December-March) when thousands of whales show up and serenade each other (and you).

2. Turtle Town – Maui

On Maui’s southern coastline, a series of underwater lava formations, created by eruptions of submarine volcanoes, makes a cozy home for sea turtles. Just remember: look, but don’t touch; these guys are endangered. Angelfish, moray eels and octopus are an added bonus.

3. Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park – Big Island

Hawaii’s Big Island offers numerous snorkeling spots. Kayak along the calm waters of Kealakekua Bay while keeping your eyes peeled for Hawaiian spinner dolphins; they like to put on a show. Once you reach the protected shoreline of Ka’awaloa, hop out and snorkel alongside turtles, eels, reef sharks and rays. Bring a picnic lunch and sit a spell near the monument of British explorer Captain James Cook. (Note: If you kayak on your own you are not allowed to dock on shore. If you go with an outfitter like Kona Boys, you may.)

4. Night Manta Snorkel – Big Island

Tour operators set up waterproof spotlights on the ocean floor to attract plankton, a surefire way to bring giant Pacific manta rays galore. Even though they are closely related to sharks, have wingspans up to 20 feet and can weigh a whopping 3,000 pounds, snorkeling with them is perfectly safe. Their underwater performance has all the theatrics of Cirque du Soleil — back flips and all.

5. Poipu Beach Park – Kauai

Tikes will dig the shallow-water lagoon at Poipu Beach, not to mention the wildlife. Shoreside, you’ll often find lounging monk seals. Offshore, it’s common to see humpbacks during whale season. While snorkeling, look for blue parrotfish, sea cucumbers and this tongue-twister: humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii’s state fish.

6. North Shore – Oahu

Oahu’s North Shore is one of the best places for snorkeling in Hawaii. Play marine biologist for the day by hanging out with Ocean Ramsey’s research team. Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, hammerheads and sometimes even whale sharks roams these parts. If you’re not a fan of the apex predator, this trip could certainly change your perspective. Humans aren’t really on the lunch list.

7. Tunnels (Makua) Beach – Kauai

Weird rock formations? Check. Large coral heads? Check. This spot in Kauai will keep you entertained with its caverns, channels and tunnels. Look for goat fish, hogfish, filefish, green sea turtles, moray eels, trumpet fish and wrasse. A word to the wise: Avoid winter when the waves can be gnarly.

8. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – Oahu

This volcanic crater on Oahu’s east side is a marine life conservation area sheltered from ocean swells and packed full of fish. Needless to say, it’s wildly popular, so be prepared for crowds. Take a peek at crevices and caves while making friends with damsel fish, squirrel fish, porcupine fish and trumpet fish.

9. Honolua Bay – Maui

Located on Maui’s northwest shore, Honolua Bay is a marine life conservation area, so your chances are good of tracking down diverse sea critters. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by rocky cliffs that help shelter the area from wind. Keep an eye out for butterflyfish, snapper, puffer fish, unicorn fish and sea urchins. Afterward, watch the surfers to the right of the boat ramp. This spot happens to be one of the most epic surf breaks in Hawaii.

10. Hulopoe Bay – Lanai

On the island’s south shore you’ll find this crescent-shaped bay dotted with shallow tide pools that house hermit crabs, sea stars and small fish. Below the surface, you’re in for a treat. Spinner dolphins and sea turtles frolic here frequently. Plus, bandit angelfish, Hawaiian green sea turtles and humpbacks (in the winter).

Best snorkeling in Kauai

Looking for the perfect place to snorkel on Kauai? Look no further.

The beaches of Kauai have it all: white sand, warm water, and an amazing array of sea life. Roughly 50 miles out of 90 miles of coastline is white sand beach, making it easy to access the ocean at any time. Plus, there are lots of spots that are great for families with kids, as well as those that will challenge more experienced snorkelers.

And we want you to find your ideal slice of paradise—so we’ve put together this list of our picks for Kauai’s best snorkeling beaches. We’ve split them up into two categories—those ideal for beginners, and those that are better left to intermediate or advanced snorkelers.

Snorkeling For Beginners

Lydgate Park, Keiki Pond

The keiki (children’s) pond at Lydgate Park is a great place to try snorkeling for the first time.  This water is protected year round from the surf by a man-made rock wall, the pond gets as deep as 10′ in places, and there are numerous fish swimming near the outer rocks. There is no coral here and the beach is popular with families. It is a great place to put on the mask, fins, and snorkel for the first time without having to worry about ocean currents or crashing waves.

Poipu Beach Park

If you are on the South Side there is no need to travel far to snorkel for the first time.  As long as there is not a large south swell, Poipu Beach Park is a good beginner spot. The snorkeling area at Poipu Beach is small, as most of the area has a sand bottom. However, just to the right of the sand is a rocky area with a little coral, some fish, and usually several people! If you are lucky, you’ll spot a Hawaiian monk seal lying on the beach.

Intermediate and Advanced Snorkeling

Koloa Landing

If you are on the south side, Koloa Landing is best for snorkelers who are excellent swimmers with more advanced skills.  This is a popular diving location, but there is a fairly long swim across a sandy area. There is limited sea life in this area, but you will see plenty when you get to where the snorkeling is good (either side of the bay). Koloa landing is also exposed to the open ocean, so don’t go here when there is a large south swell (usually during the summer). 

There is no beach at Koloa landing; you enter the water from a boat ramp. If there has recently been heavy rain, do not snorkel at Koloa landing. There is a small stream near the boat ramp- do not snorkel near it as the stream clouds visibility and may carry run off from the livestock farming operations that are upstream.

Nualolo Kai

The reef at Nualolo Kai is one of the best snorkeling locations to visit on Kauai. You can expect to see lots of fish and very healthy coral. In the morning, before the wind picks up, the visibility at Nualolo Kai is at its best. Nualolo Kai is on the Na Pali Coast and is only accessible by boat and when conditions allow; generally between the months of April and September.  Not all tour boats stop at Nualolo Kai, so be sure you book with a company who does.

Kee Beach

Kee Beach, at the end of the road on the North Shore, can be excellent for snorkeling when the surf conditions permit. It is most easily accessible during the summer months. Be aware of the strong rip current that can exist on the left side of the reef where it opens up to the ocean. Kee has a barrier reef with plenty of marine life- it’s a comfortable intermediate snorkeling location. Please be mindful to not step on the reef here.  

The area outside the reef at Kee is for experts only, but the marine life is abundant. As a result, it’s common to see locals spear fishing in this area. Do not go outside the reef unless you are very experienced swimming in the ocean and have a clear plan for how to get back in. The rip current may help you get out through a shallow crack in the reef; however, it is often not easy to get back because the current is pushing against you. There have been sightings of turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, and even an occasional white-tipped reef shark here.

Tunnels (Makua) Beach

Tunnels is a deceptively large horseshoe-shaped snorkeling area.  The outer reef, which has excellent coral formations and lots of marine life, is for advanced snorkelers only, as it is exposed to strong ocean currents. The best entry point is the water near the point (far right side of the reef when looking out from shore). You can then swim out to the inside portion of the outer reef. Be aware that the current will be pushing you back towards Haena Beach Park. Follow the curve along the outer reef; there are varying depths here from 3′-40′. When you get in the shallows, the current can be very strong.  As you approach the far left side of the reef (when looking from shore), head directly to shore and back to the beach (you will be crossing a channel).  Under no circumstances should you follow the reef out and away from shore – the exit current can be very strong around the left corner of the reef.

For beginners, there is a protected shallow area with small caves (or tunnels) on the inner reef which is usually a safe place to get in the water when the surf isn’t big. It is on the left side of the beach closest to Haena Beach Park (where you come back in from the outer reef advanced snorkel). 

Like the rest of the North Shore of Kauai, large north swell is common in the winter. In such conditions, even strong swimmers will not be able to snorkel at Tunnels. During that time of year, we suggest you head to Koloa Landing or Lawai Beach on the South Side.  

Tunnels Beach has very limited parking because it is a popular snorkeling area. If it is overcrowded, there is more parking at Haena Beach Park. It is a beautiful (albeit long) walk from there to the tunnels.

Lawai Beach

Lawai Beach is a reliable snorkeling area protected by a barrier reef that hosts abundant numbers of fish. If you want to try out snorkeling, we highly recommend taking a snorkel tour. After you have gone with a guide, you’ll have learned the basics and will be more comfortable snorkeling independently. Note that visibility gets better (and the coral much healthier) the farther out towards the reef you go, but don’t venture outside the reef.

Lawai Beach can be crowded because it is one of the best snorkeling spots on Kauai.   It is particularly important to be aware of the currents at Lawai Beach in high wind or south swell. It is also very easy to access with ample street side parking available.  There is a small sand beach on the left side of the bay that disappears at high tide, and the lawn in front of the beach house restaurant which borders the east side of the bay is also a nice place to relax.

If you are a confident swimmer and have been snorkeling a couple of times before, Lawai Beach is an excellent choice.

No matter where you choose to snorkel on Kauai, be safe; be respectful of the marine life whose home you are visiting; and, of course, have fun!

Hideaways Beach

In order to access this beach, you have to follow a steep trail from just in front of the St Regis Resort. Hideaways‘ turquoise blue water is perfect for snorkeling when the conditions are good. The reef here is shallow with lots of pockets or deep grooves to explore and an abundance of fish. It’s not necessary to swim very far out over the shallow reef; the snorkeling isn’t any better, and you will be exposing yourself to more hazardous ocean conditions. During high swell, visibility is impaired and it may not be safe to enter the water.

Best snorkeling in Maui

Snorkeling in Maui offers some of the best opportunities for swimming with sea turtles. If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of the marine biology of Hawaii, join Ocean Ramsey’s research team in Oahu. Anini Beach on the island of Kauai provides snorkelers with access to the Rhe Honoiki reef, the largest coral reef in Hawaii. And if you want to walk away from your trip with a one-of-a-kind experience, swim at night with reef manta rays on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Here is a list of Best snorkeling in Maui:

Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay is one of the most remarkable beaches on Maui, a perfect West Maui locale to explore while on vacation in Hawaii. Kapalua translates to kapa and lua in the ancient Hawaiian language, meaning “two borders.” Kapalua Bay is perfectly positioned between Oneloa Bay and Honokahua Bay. This not only explains its centrally located namesake, but also positions it as a perfect place to enjoy West Maui snorkeling in all of its splendor.

Five Caves

If you are a good swimmer and a relatively experienced snorkeler, Five Caves is another fantastic spot for some of the best snorkeling on Maui. Also known as ‘Five Graves’ (because it’s near a graveyard), it is also a super popular location for experienced Maui scuba divers.

Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve is believed to be one of the most delicate and youngest eco-reef zones on Maui. This small cove is a great snorkeling spot in Maui if you are with a small group, especially young children or those who don’t feel comfortable in open water.

Turtle Town

Justly named, Turtle Town is the best place to go snorkeling on Maui if your goal is to see the Hawaiian green sea turtles in action! Thanks to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), this stretch of ocean is home to a particularly dense population of the beloved Hawaiian green sea turtle.

Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is located about twenty minutes North of Lahaina Town on Maui’s North-West Shore. It’s one of the most incredible locations on Maui, providing plenty of remarkable underwater and out-of-water scenery for residents and visitors.

Black Rock

Black Rock is located on Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui and has won numerous awards as one of the best places to go in Maui. Ka’anapali Beach encompasses over 3 miles of white sandy beach, a boardwalk, resorts and hotels, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.

Ulua Beach

Once known as “Kaula’uo Beach,” this concealed South Maui snorkeling beach is now more commonly recognized as ‘Ulua Beach. It’s named after a popular Hawaiian fish, ‘Ulua. ‘Ulua Beach is definitely a hot spot for residents and experienced scuba divers, but resort guests also frequent it.

Molokini Crater

Located approximately 2.5 miles off of Maui’s south shore, Molokini Crater is an underwater volcano islet. Listed as a Marine Life Conservation District Seabird Sanctuary, this partially submerged crescent-shaped volcanic crater is like no other snorkeling location in the world. It’s also one of the very few volcano islets in the world!

Napili Bay

Located between Kahana and Kapalua is the legendary Napili Beach area. Napili is surrounded by a quiet community of residents and vacation rentals but still remains to be one of the sleepiest little areas on Maui. Napili in itself is a true Hawaiian gem, and it also happens to be one of the most fantastic snorkeling spots in Maui.

Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens in Hawaii is located near the center of the West Maui shoreline. This excellent snorkeling location is home to a large number of brightly colored fish, breathtakingly gorgeous coral reef formations, and the occasional Hawaiian green sea turtle.

Best snorkeling in Hawaii for beginners

Hawaii is an ocean paradise coveted for its calm crystal clear waters, epic surf breaks, and abundant, brightly colored marine life and coral. This is why we rank it one of the best destinations for snorkeling in the world. Deciding where to snorkel on this idyllic Pacific Ocean island is the hard part, there are so many stunning snorkeling spots, it’s hard to narrow down. But we tried.  Enjoy our guide to snorkeling in Hawaii whether you’re a beginner or a die-hard ocean fan. 

If you love the idea of floating amongst sea turtles and coral reefs with nothing but your mask and fins between you and an underwater world full of wildlife, then Hawaii is just what the doctor ordered! Snorkelers will find plenty of options when it comes to choosing where to go in the Aloha State. However, if you’re new to snorkeling or just want some tips on where to start, then read on!

If you’ve never snorkeled before, Hawaii is the perfect location thanks to its calm waters and excellent visibility. Snorkeling is a fantastic way to get out and experience marine life without having to go through the steps of becoming scuba certified. Unlike many other aquatic activities, being a strong swimmer is not a requirement for most snorkeling trips. If you choose to wear a life vest and float along at your leisure that is totally okay. All of the places on this list will offer you the opportunity to use the basic snorkeling gear including a mask, snorkel, and a set of fins. A few things to keep in mind before hopping in the water for your first time:

Check to be sure both the mask and the fins fit securely; nothing derails the experience faster than a mask filled with water.

Secondly, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience if you pick a spot where you can easily see fish or coral. Luckily, snorkeling in Hawaii makes the second one a cinch.

HONOLUA BAY

A marine life conservation area, Honolua Bay is known for its diverse and abundant sea creatures. The area is sheltered from the wind by the rocky cliffs surrounding the cove, making it the perfect snorkeling location. Here you can expect to see butterflyfish, blue striped snapper (or ta’ape), pufferfish, unicornfish, sea urchins, and plenty of bright beautiful coral. And yes, more sea turtles. Aside from snorkeling, Honolua Bay has one of Hawaii’s best surf breaks.

Book A Tour: The best time to visit is May through September when it’s almost guaranteed the bay won’t have much surf but plenty of sea turtles. Book a tour with Sail Trilogy which includes a visit and snorkel of Honolua Bay, sail to another snorkeling site, food, and drinks. 

Where to Stay: The Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Ka’anapali, steps from the Pacific Ocean and with a backdrop of volcanic mountains is a luxury resort and spa with five restaurants and surfing experiences. 

TUNNELS (MAKUA) BEACH

For beginner snorkeling, the inner reef at Tunnels (Makua) Beach is a dream come true thanks to its strange rock formations, caverns, tunnels, and large coral heads. In these formations, you’ll be able to see goatfish, hogfish, sea turtles, moray eels, and trumpet fish. The outer reef is best for advanced snorkelers who can handle stronger wave conditions. That said, this snorkeling site is best visited outside of the winter months since the waves can be rough making it better conditions for surfers than snorkelers. 

Book A Tour: Rent your snorkeling gear at Hanalei Surf Co., a few miles away in the town of Hanalei, and dive right in.

Where to Stay: Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection, located on the South Shore of Kauai, offers sunny beaches, hiking, surfing, golf, tennis, and horseback riding, perfect for the adventurer. You can even book a snorkeling or scuba diving tour through the hotel’s concierge

SNORKELING IN THE BIG ISLAND

NIGHT MANTA SNORKEL

Snorkeling at night isn’t common, but that’s what makes the Night Manta Snorkel experience so much more exciting and unforgettable. A tour guide will illuminate your way with waterproof lights that inspire the plankton to follow the light along the ocean floor which in turn attracts the manta rays. These amazing sea creatures have wingspans of up to 20 feet and can weigh 3000 pounds so they are truly a sight to behold. Marvel as the manta rays feed on plankton and do flips under the water, swimming up close enough for you to touch them, but we recommend you don’t. 

Book A Tour: Watch the manta rays glide through the water on this nighttime tour and enjoy a beautiful Hawaiian sunset on your boat ride to the snorkeling location. 

Where to Stay: The Fairmont Orchid, is a luxury resort along the Kohala Coast set on 32 acres of tropical gardens with waterfalls, a private beach, and a lagoon.

SNORKELING IN MOLOKAI

FRINGING REEF

On the southern coast of Molokai, you’ll find Fringing Reef, a 30-mile stretch filled with natural, unspoiled coral and wildlife that is perfect for snorkeling. The reef’s crest, almost a mile offshore, protects the reef from damage caused by human interaction. In the interests of preserving this natural wonder and because of its hard to access from the shore location travel to the reef is by boat or kayak. The best time to plan your visit is December through March as it’s whale watching season so you might be lucky and spot one of these magnificent ocean giants. 

Book A Tour: For beginners, we recommend taking a guided tour as your instructor can point out the best places to see unspoiled coral, reef fish, and other marine life including hawksbill turtles and spotted eagle rays. 

Where to Stay: Hotel Moloka’i has oriented their guest rooms from east to west so you can feel the trade winds and hear the soothing sounds of the ocean. As a bonus, you can even snorkel directly from the hotel. 

SNORKELING IN MAUI

TURTLE TOWN

As you can guess by the name Turtle Town will indeed provide you with an up-close encounter with a ton of Hawaiin green sea turtles, along with angelfish, moray eels, and octopus. Located between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach in the southern district of Makena, underwater lava formations caused by eruptions from submarine volcanoes create the perfect home for the turtles. The sea is super calm here as it’s hidden behind the mountain of Haleakala preventing the water from being disturbed by tradewinds, creating the perfect conditions for snorkelers of all levels. 

Book A Tour: Book a tour via Get Your Guide which includes kayaking on and snorkeling in Makena Bay and learning about the island of Maui and its rich culture. 

Where to Stay: The Four Seasons Resort at Wailea is an oceanfront resort with three pools (one of which is adults-only), six restaurants, and a curated lineup of activities from helicopter rides to an organic fruit farm and whale watching with an underwater photographer and marine experts.

SNORKELING IN KAUAI

POIPU BEACH PARK

Meet Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a at Poipu Beach Park, a snorkeling site in a shallow-water lagoon that’s perfect for all levels. During whale season, see them breaching the water off in the distance and find lounging monk seals on the shore (don’t go too close as these beauties are an endangered species). The crescent-shaped beach also has picnic areas for a post-snorkel lunch and wide stretches of beach for lazing under the Kauaian sun. 

Book A Tour: At Poipu Beach Park there’s no need to book a tour. Grab your snorkeling gear from Nukumoi Surf Co. and head straight into the sea.  Just be careful to avoid touching the coral. 

Where to Stay: Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club is a luxury villa-style resort with four pools and one of the best snorkeling spots right out front. 

SNORKELING IN OAHU

NORTH SHORE – SHARKS COVE

Oahu’s North Shore is known to be one of the best locations for snorkeling. Unlike the other sites, you’ll see Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, hammerheads, and sometimes even whale sharks. Don’t worry, they don’t bite. Marine life hides in the small caves and ledges formed by large boulders and coral heads found on the bottom floor. Beginnings are best to start in the tide pool as it’s shallower, has warmer water and a sandy seafloor then once you’ve found you’ve got your groove venture out into the deeper waters of the cove itself, to see all the amazing marine life.

Book A Tour: This tour extends beyond snorkeling to a complete island adventure with visits to beaches all along the North Shore, stops at local restaurants, hiking, paddle boarding, and kayaking.

 Where to Stay: The Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina has vast ocean views, a golf course that weaves through waterfalls, and the Naupaka Spa and Wellness Center.   

HANAUMA BAY NATURE PRESERVE

Sheltered from ocean swells and filled with many species of fish, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a marine life conservation area located in a volcanic crater on the east side of Oahu. With a calm shoreline, you can wade into the water with no difficulty, even if it’s your first time snorkeling. Once you make it over the coral reef, you can peek your head into the caves and hidden spaces where the fish swim happily, oblivious to the many snorkelers who regularly inhabit their home.

Book A Tour: Take a snorkeling tour to a secluded location away from other snorkelers to Waimea Bay from Haleiwa through Get Your Guide.

 Where to Stay: Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Diamond Head, and cityscape from your suite. It is also home to one of the most Instagrammable infinity pools with a gorgeous deck, private cabanas, tiered daybeds, and firepits.

SNORKELING IN LANAI

HULOPOE BAY

Home to hermit crabs, sea stars, and small fish, Hulopoe Bay is a crescent-shaped bay with shallow tide pools. You’ll frequently find spinner dolphins and sea turtles at this snorkeling site. In the winter, you may even run into whales and spot Hawaiin green sea turtles. The tide pools are carved out of volcanic rock and produce calm conditions for snorkeling. As a protected site, it’s extra important to leave all creatures and formations in their place. Similar to the other locations, the best time to visit is in summer when the surf isn’t as rough. 

Book A Tour: Lanai Ocean Sports offer a luxurious sailboat ride to top snorkeling sites. 

Where to Stay: Four Seasons Resort Lanai, set right on the bay is perfect for snorkelers. Take strolls through the botanical gardens, indulge in Japanese fare at NOBU LANAI on property, and lounge by the lagoon-style pools.

In conclusion, there are many places to snorkel in Hawaii. The best place to snorkel is Honolua Bay because it has plenty of coral and fish, and is easy to get to.

We hope you enjoyed this list of the best places to snorkel in Hawaii! We know that it can be hard to choose where to go on your next vacation, but we’re sure that after reading this article, you’ll have a better idea of where to start.

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