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10 Best Snorkeling Spots In Hawaii

Hawaii snorkeling is an activity that should not be missed. Beneath the crystal clear, aqua water awaits a whole new world full of fish, turtles, rays, eels, urchins, dolphins, and more. Some of the many underwater creatures can only be found here in the islands, and a Hawaii snorkeling adventure will lead you right to them.

These are the perfect Hawaii snorkeling spots, based on accessibility and viewing. Most locations are good for beginners and all are teeming with underwater sea life.

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Hanauma Bay, Oahu

This bay is a favorite (and crowded) snorkeling spot. The waters are clear, warm, and calm. Friendly and plentiful fish swim close by. The setting is gorgeous and easy to access. Even in waist deep water, dozens of species of reef and inshore fish common to Hawaiian waters can be seen. Novice snorkelers like to stay in the safe, shallow inner bay. Those with more experience take a passage through the reef to gain access to Witch’s Brew, a turbulent cove, and other outer reef areas. Location: Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72) to Koko Head; turn onto the side road near the top of the point.

Makaha Beach Park, Oahu

Makaha Beach is Oahu’s second most popular snorkeling site. The clear, aqua blue water with the little current is superb for snorkeling in summer. There are underwater caverns, arches, and tunnels as deep as 40 feet. Sealife includes schools of taape, octopuses, several species of eels, green sea turtles, transiting dolphins, and sometimes manta and eagle rays. Location: 35 miles northwest of Honolulu on Farrington Highway in Makaha.

Molokini Crater, Maui

Molokini is a partially sunken volcanic crater that can be accessed only by boat. Fantastic visibility provides clear viewing up to 150 feet deep. Two hundred-fifty different species of fish swim these waters, some found nowhere else on earth. Location: Three miles off the coast of Maui.

Kealakekua Bay, Big Island

Kealakekua, the location of the Captain Cook Monument, is one of the best snorkeling spots in the islands. Kealakekua is an underwater marine sanctuary, with dolphins and sea turtles. Many snorkeling boat tours are available to visit this secluded sanctuary. Location: about 17 miles south of Kona on Highway 11.

Ke’e Beach Park, Kauai

Ke’e offers great snorkeling during summer months and calm seas. The famous towering cliffs of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast rise in the near distance. Snorkelers will see a wide variety of colorful fish, and very often, Pacific green sea turtles. Ke‘e Beach has a very tropical look with a backshore lushly vegetated by ironwood trees, coconut palms, ti, and guava. Location: At the very end of the road (Route 560) on Kauai’s North Shore.

Kapalua Bay, Maui

Kapalua has a nice, protected sandy beach with good snorkeling on the north side. The calm waters are good for beginners. Location: On Hwy. 30, at the Napili Plaza, turn toward the ocean on Napilihau Street. When Napilihau Street T’s at Lower Honoapiilani Road, turn right. Drive almost a mile to Napili Kai Beach Club and turn toward the ocean at the “Shoreline Access” sign.

Anini Beach, Kauai

The water at Anini is very shallow in parts, and the reef appears to go on forever at this beach with the largest reef on Kauai. Anini provides ample opportunity for exploration of the underwater nooks and crannies at the reef’s edge. Anini is okay for beginners, but be careful during outgoing tides, which can be strong. Location: Take Kuhio Highway (Route 56) north to the northern (and second) Kalihiwai Road. Turn right and then stay to the left on Anini Road.

Kapiolani Park Beach, Oahu

The best spot for snorkeling here is the center of the beach park, in a section called Queen’s Beach or Queen’s Surf Beach, between the Natatorium and the Waikiki Aquarium. The reef in front of the aquarium has easy access to the beach and the waters are usually calm. Location: Waikiki, near Diamond Head

Poipu Beach, Kauai

Poipu Beach Park’s sheltered cove provides ideal conditions for novice snorkelers. Some of the best snorkeling is found on the far right side of the beach park. Location: From Lihue, take Kaumualii Highway (Route 50) west to Route 520 south to the South Shore.

Kahaluu Beach Park, Big Island

Kahaluu Beach Park is one of the best snorkeling spots (and probably the most popular) on the Big Island, with a huge variety of fish and sea turtles. Location: Alii Drive, Kona.

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