If you think a land or aerial tour of Hawaii provides spectacular scenery, try taking in the views just below the ocean’s surface. Glide effortlessly along the gentle currents and see brilliantly colored fish, green sea turtles, exotic coral reef beds and more of Hawaii’s undersea life. And the good news is, there are great snorkeling spots on every island.
The most popular snorkeling destination in the state is probably Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu. Situated on the island’s southeast coast, Hanauma Bay is sheltered from strong currents and waves, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling. This isn’t exactly one of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets, however. About 3,000 visitors flock to the bay every day.
Other good snorkeling spots on Oahu include Queen’s Beach in Waikiki and Shark’s Cove on the North Shore. Shark’s Cove is a lava-edged pool filled with rainbow-colored tropical fish.
Another famous—and arguably the best—snorkeling destination is Molokini islet, a volcanic cinder cone located about three miles off the shores of Maui. Molokini has crystal-clear waters (visibility usually exceeds a hundred feet) and abundant sea life: tropical fish, rays, eels and more. Molokini has been designated a Marine Life Conservation District Seabird Sanctuary.
Other recommended snorkeling adventures on Maui can be found at Kapalua Bay, Honolua Beach and the legendary Black Rock in Kaanapali.
- Black Sand Beach
- Kamaole Beach Park
- Wailea Beach
- Kapalua Bay Beach
- D.T. Fleming Beach Park
- Ahihi Kinau Marine Preserve
- Molokini Crater
The island of Lanai is renowned as one of the world’s premier snorkeling destinations. Head to Hulopoe Beach, where the best snorkeling is between the beach’s eastern point and the center of the bay (where the reef is most developed).
Big Island Snorkeling
The Big Island offers a number of snorkeling spots. The best of them all might be Kealakekua Bay, a protected marine sanctuary filled with ocean life. Kealakekua Bay is accessible via boat charters.
The island of Kauai also has a nice array of snorkeling opportunities. Favorite spots include Poipu Beach Park on the island’s south shore and Anini Beach on the north shore.
- Tunnels Beach
- Lydgate Beach
- Kee Beach
- Anini Beach
- Hanalei Bay
- Holo Holo Charters
- Poipu Specials
- Na Pali Coast
- Always snorkel in areas where there are other swimmers and snorkelers.
- Don’t snorkel near surfers.
- Avoid the water if it is murky, choppy or rough. Lookup out of the water periodically to keep your bearing.
- Do not feed the fish (it clouds the water and can make the fish sick).
- It is against the law to harass or touch a green sea turtle or monk seal; both are protected by the Endangered Species Act
Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book
The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book by Monika Mira is the winner of the Dr. Toy Best Vacation Children’s Products Award and the Creative Child Magazine 2010 Book of the Year Award. The book is recommended by Save Our Seas, and is a great way to get your kids interested in science while on your Hawaii vacation.
The Book Features:
- 200+ colorable illustrations to help you learn to identify these colorful and fascinating fishes.
- Description of each fish, including the scientific, common and Hawaiian names.
- Coral reef ecology to help children understand the relationship between the fish and the coral reef and the importance of conservation.