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9 Best Places to Snorkel in Hawaii

Hawaii is truly a tropical paradise, known for its outdoor adventures and family-friendly resorts. The waters near the islands are teeming with aquatic life, therefore there are a number of great spots to explore for snorkelers. You don’t have to go far from the beach to view sea turtles, colorful fish species and coral reef. Get your snorkel gear ready in order to explore these best snorkeling spots in Hawaii.

Kealakekua Bay, Big Island Giant Porcupine Fish in Kealakekua Bay
Credit: Giant Porcupine Fish in Kealakekua Bay by Bigstock.com

Kealakekua Bay, Big Island

Found on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kealakekua Bay kicks off this list. This lively snorkeling spot is home to dolphins, turtles and other marine life. Found on the west shore of the Big Island, Kealakekua Bay is also a well-known historical site. The British explorer James Cook landed here in 1779, and now this is where the Captain Cook Monument is found. The waters here are clear, offering great visibility for snorkelers. Boat tours are regularly offered in the area for guests seeking to explore this underwater oasis.

Molokini Crater, Maui Molokini Crater
Credit: Molokini Crater by jayzeek/shutterstock.com

Molokini Crater, Maui

Molokini Crater is a top attraction Hawaii and a unique snorkeling spot, only accessible by boat through snorkeling tours. It is found three miles off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Maui. This old volcanic crater is now home to over 250 species of fish, therefore the area is popular among both snorkelers and divers alike. With 100-foot visibility due to the clear blue waters, the snorkeling here is typically always rewarding and pristine.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu Hanauma Bay
Credit: Hanauma Bay by I. Noyan Yilmaz/shutterstock.com

Hanauma Bay, Oahu

One of the best and most popular spots to snorkel in Oahu is at Hanauma Bay, a top attraction in Oahu. This protected area is home to a wide variety of fish, and snorkelers are granted great views within the shallow waters right from the beach. The sheltered bay and beautiful beach are worth hassling with the crowds that flock to see its emerald waters.

Honolua Bay, Maui Honolua Bay
Credit: Honolua Bay by Ivan_Sabo/shutterstock.com

Honolua Bay, Maui

Honolua Bay is another Maui snorkeling spot that should be added to your “must snorkel” list. Found on the northwest shore of Maui, snorkelers here will be able to view a wide variety of fish species along with unique coral formations. Part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District, this area is popular for snorkelers during the summer months. You should trade your snorkeling gear for a surfboard here during the winter months when the surf is high.

Ke’e Beach, Kauai Ke’e Beach
Credit: Ke’e Beach by Gu1M/shutterstock.com

Ke’e Beach, Kauai

Ke’e Beach is the first Kauai snorkeling spot found on this list. This popular summer snorkeling spot is both scenic above and below the water. If you’re hoping to catch sight of some green sea turtles, then this is the snorkeling spot to visit. Ke’e Beach is found at the end of Route 560 on Kauai’s north shore in Haena State Park.

Tunnels Beach, Kauai Tunnels Beach, Kauai
Credit: Tunnels Beach, Kauai by chris.murphy via Flickr

Tunnels Beach, Kauai

Tunnels Beach, also found on the island of Kauai, offers blue, clear waters and a backdrop that will make your jaw drop. Even if you don’t intend to snorkel, Tunnels Beach is a great spot to sunbathe and build a sand castle. Tunnels Beach, also known as Mauka Beach, is found on the north shore of the island. You’ll find the best snorkeling spots in the shallow inner reef spots here.

Makaha Beach Park, Oahu Makaha Beach Park
Credit: Makaha Beach Park by Allen.G/shutterstock.com

Makaha Beach Park, Oahu

The second most popular snorkeling spot in Oahu, with Hanauma Bay being the first, is Makaha Beach Park. Snorkelers flock here due to the clear visibility and opportunities to view dolphins, sea turtles, octopus, eels and manta rays. This area, 35 miles from Honolulu, is also home to deep underwater caverns and tunnels.

Anini Beach, Kauai Anini Beach Park
Credit: Anini Beach Park by Gaston Piccinetti/shutterstock.com

Anini Beach, Kauai

Explore the largest reef in Kauai at Anini Beach. The protective cove’s reef is teeming with fish and offer plenty of spots for snorkelers to explore. However, do keep in mind that the water here can get shallow in some places as well have a strong tide. Beginners are encouraged to snorkel here but should always play it safe when the outgoing tide is strong.

Kahalu’u Beach Park, Big Island Kahalu’u Beach Park, Big Island
Credit: Kahalu’u Beach Park, Big Island by Blake Handley via Flickr

Kahalu’u Beach Park, Big Island

This list ends with Kahalu’u Beach Park found on the Big Island of Hawaii. View over 100 different varieties of tropical fish along with sea turtles too. This area has been known as a popular snorkeling spot for centuries. King Kamehameha, the king of Hawaii who reigned from 1782 to 1819, built a seawall here so that his family could snorkel these incredible waters.

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