Snorkeling is not only easy to learn, many visitors say that seeing the incredible marine life is the highlight of their vacation on Kauai. The Garden Isle offers numerous snorkeling spots with many located off some of the nicest beaches on the island. From rare species of brilliant colored fish to green sea turtles, squids, rays and more, you’re bound to be entertained for hours in these spectacular waters.
Guests of Hideaway Cove have access to snorkel gear available to rent, including a mask, snorkel, fins, “no fog goop,” and a card that identifies local fish.
If you’ve never been snorkeling before, it’s very simple to learn, but you might feel more comfortable joining a tour with guides that can help you learn the proper technique as well as point out the myriad of marine life that you’ll find below the water’s surface.
For those who go out on their own, keep in mind that where and when you snorkel will make a big difference in the experience. You’ll want to look for calm waters without waves that are protected by reefs. Tropical reefs and corals are where you’ll find the fish. Kauai offers many protected snorkeling areas that are ideal with the reef areas offering an abundance of diverse fish populations. Keep in mind that the water is typically calmer at low tide and in the morning.
Some of the best spots on Kauai to snorkel include:
Snorkeling at Ke’e Beach is like being inside a giant aquarium with the ocean lagoon protected by a reef where a great diversity of fish and other marine life can be seen. This is the last beach accessible by car on the north shore and best utilized during the summer with calmer ocean conditions. It is a popular spot that can get pretty crowded, so you may want to arrive early for a better experience.
Tunnels Beach offers a little more privacy while still teeming with marine life. It’s known as one of the best snorkeling spots on the island due to the undersea rock formations that include a labyrinth of underwater lava tubes. The cove has a shallow inner reef that is ideal for beginners and children, while the more adventurous can swim out further to the outer reef. Either way, snorkelers are practically ensured of spotting dozens and dozens of tropical fish and occasionally even a sea turtle.
The beach itself is very picturesque, and the surrounding area was the setting for the 1958 film, “South Pacific.” It’s best to snorkel here in the summer, as the currents can be quite strong here during the winter, even when the water appears to be safe.
Poipu Beach is a great place for children and beginning snorkelers to learn with its protected, shallow area. The best snorkeling can be found just to the west of the tombolo, a narrow strip of sand running out to Nukumoi Point. This is the only beach on Kauai’s south shore that has lifeguards seven days a week.
Lydgate Beach, located on Kauai’s east shore between Wailua and Lihue is another good spot for novices to learn to snorkel as it includes a lava rock wall that encloses a small lagoon where fish can be seen. There are lots of activities for kids here as well, including an amazing community-built playground.
Salt Pond Beach
Salt Pond Beach on the west shore near Hanapepe offers a crescent shaped cove protected from the waves by an offshore reef. The rock outcropping near the salt ponds are filled with lots of marine life.