Snorkeling is perhaps the most popular – and quintessential – Hawaiian activity. With warm water and islands surrounded by magnificent reef ecosystems, Hawaii is a snorkeler’s paradise, and these 14 destinations are among the state’s best.
Please remember that you are a visitor in the vast Pacific Ocean; you should never disrupt the living coral, or bother the sea life. Disturbing endangered animals like the Hawaiian monk seal and the honu is illegal, and may result in massive fines. As always, we suggest you check out surf conditions before you make any decisions, and head warnings posted at these popular spots.
1. Hanauma Bay
Formed within a volcanic cone along Oahu’s southeastern coast is the wildly popular Hanauma Bay, which welcomes approximately 3,000 visitors each day and is one of Hawaii’s most visited tourist attractions.
2. Molokini Crater
Just off the coast of Maui is this crescent-shaped volcanic crater, perhaps one of the most surreal snorkeling spots in the country, and maybe even the world. The crescent-shape protects snorkelers and divers from currents, waves, and wind.
3. Ke’e Beach
Situated near the trailhead for the rigorous Kalalau Trail is Ke’e Beach, a popular spot for snorkeling among tourists, when the conditions are right, of course.
4. Hulopoe Bay
Located off the small island of Lanai is this lovely bay spotted with shallow tide pools and – further off shore – visiting sea turtles and dolphins.
5. Shark’s Cove
Oahu’s north shore is known for its massive winter waves, but in the summer, the calm surf makes it an ideal location for getting up close and personal with sea life.
6. Ka’anapali Beach
This stretch of beautiful white sand, located just a few miles north of Lahaina, is a popular resort destination. The area’s 40-foot tall Black Rock’s underwater lava rock edge is well-known as a hangout spot for honu.
7. Poipu Beach
This sheltered cove is perfect for beginners. We suggest heading to the right side of the beach for the best snorkeling opportunities.
8. Kapalua Bay
This protected bay features calm waters that are perfect for beginners. Plus, the sunsets from this spot on Maui’s north shore are to-die for.
9. Kealakekua Bay
On Hawaii Island’s west coast is this marine life conservation district, full of vibrant coral, schools of fish, and even, on occasion, spinner dolphins. The bay is most well-known as the location where Captain James Cook, a British explorer, first landed on the Big Island.
10. Tunnel’s Beach
With enticing turquoise waters, a plethora a of sea life, and the mountains of the Na Pali coast behind you, there’s no questioning why Tunnel’s is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations on Kauai.
11. Honolua Bay
Located on Maui’s northwest coast is the popular tourist hangout. When the ocean conditions are right – most often in the summer months – the snorkeling in this bay cannot be beat.
12. Makaha Beach Park
On Oahu’s western coast is Makaha Beach, a stellar snorkeling spot with clear, aqua blue water, underwater caverns, tunnels and arches, as well as fish, octopuses, eels, dolphins and sea turtles.
13. Anini Beach
With shallow water and the largest reef on the island of Kauai, Anini Beach is a snorkeler’s paradise. The reef appears to stretch for miles, and exploring the reef’s underwater nooks and crannies is great fun for those of varying skill levels.
14. Kahaluu Beach Park
Located in Kailua-Kona is Kahaluu Beach, perhaps the Big Island’s most popular snorkeling spot. The waters here are home to a wide variety of fish, as well as green sea turtles.
How many of these destinations have you been to? Where is your favorite place to go snorkeling in Hawaii?