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Travel Guide: Hawaii Snorkeling
Hawaii is truly a beautiful place. Plus, not only is it beautiful, but it’s fun and offers plenty of things to do and see.
One fun thing that is prevalent in Hawaii is snorkeling, which will give you an amazing view under the beautiful waters.
Even if you’ve never been snorkeling before, there will be opportunities at your skill level- at every skill level- in the state of Hawaii.
You can either grab your gear and snorkel at your favorite beach, or you can take a class or assisted dive if you need. However, you decide to do it, we’ll help you out with lots of great tips on snorkeling in Hawaii.
Hanauma Bay in Oahu
If you’re looking for a great place for your first snorkel, one with plenty of opportunities for guidance, then get on over to Hanauma Bay.
Don’t worry! You definitely won’t be the only beginner snorkeler there. That’s because this locale gets about 3,000 tourist visitors each day.
Not only will you be in good snorkeling company, but you’ll also have plenty to see, including gorgeous coral. Plus, the snorkeling experiences there are safe as long as you follow the rules.
Yes, there have been drownings here, but if you pay attention during the safety video shown before each excursion and do as you are told, you should have nothing but a wonderful time as you snorkel in Hanauma Bay.
Kealakekua Bay in Big Island
Another “bay” that’s perfect for snorkelers, both newbies and the more experienced alike, is Kealakekua Bay. It is the place to go if you want to come face to face with amazing marine creatures.
Here, tourists have reported spotting dolphins and large turtles. They are very common, so it’s easy to see why so many would want to snorkel here!
What’s also nice about this area is that, once you’re done snorkeling, there’s still more to see and do. You can check out the Captain Cook monument or just sunbathe on the beautiful sands of the island. No matter what you do, you are sure to have a wonderful and wonderfully relaxing day.
Molokini Crater in Maui
If you’re somewhat of an experienced snorkeler or just a beginner up for a huge adventure, we strongly recommend Molokini Crater. It’s a little “out of the ordinary”,” but it’s also all kinds of wonderful.
True to its name, it really is a crater, a volcanic one at that. To get there, you have to ride on a boat, which is part of the fun. Don’t worry. Snorkeling services will often pick people up and take them to the crater.
Once you do start snorkeling you’re in for a smooth treat. The waters here are super calm thanks to the shape of the island. So, you won’t be bashed around by waves or wind. You can just relax and take in all the beautiful sites that you are sure to see.
Honolua Bay in Maui
Back to the bays! We just had to recommend this beautiful bay in Maui. It’s perfect for snorkeling, and opportunities for both guided and solo snorkeling abound.
Our favorite part about the bay, hands down, is all of the beautiful fish species you will find here. If you live for seeing the little fishies when you snorkel, then you’ll love it here as much as we do.
Even if fish aren’t your thing, there are gorgeous coral formations to take in. Plus, when you’re all done snorkeling, there are lots of opportunities for surfing the day away too. All in all, Honolua Bay is a great place to be for snorkelers and really anyone who wants a taste of the best Hawaii has to offer.
Tunnels Beach in Kauai
If you love nothing more than snorkeling in the sea and then relaxing on the warm sand, you will absolutely love Tunnels Beach.
Nestled away in Kauai, Tunnels Beach is actually one of the most celebrated snorkeling spots in the area. But, don’t worry. It’s a large beach and never seems to feel too crowded as a result.
With beautiful, fully clear water and mountainous caves to explore, this is a great place for snorkeling. However, we do advise this spot mainly for more experienced snorkelers. We say that because of the strong currents and occasional rip tides.
Kee Beach in Kauai
Also in beautiful Kauai, Kee Beach is a wonderful option for snorkelers who aren’t quite ready to brave the water of Tunnels Beach.
The water here is gentle, and there’s plenty to see when you snorkel too. You’ll enjoy visions of beautiful turtles and colorful fish.
Plus, this locale is also near Haena State Park. Thus, when you get done snorkeling, you will have plenty of other sites to check out. You can make a full day trip out of going to Kee Beach.
Shark’s Cove in Oahu
Don’t let the ominous name of this locale scare you. It may be called Shark’s Cove, but you should be perfectly safe from dangerous sea life.
What you might not be safe from, however, are the giant waves. They’re mainly only out of control in the winter months. While it’s nothing experienced snorkelers can’t handle, newer snorkelers may want to stick to snorkeling here in the summer.
There is even a nice area enclosed by rocks that is perfect for beginners. In any event, as long as you go at the right time of year, this is not a bad place to take a good mix of experienced and inexperienced snorkelers since everyone can find a comfortable place to snorkel here.
Tips for Snorkeling Safely
As you can see, there are lots of great places to snorkel in Hawaii. We’ve listed some of the very best spots for your consideration.
However, we do want to say that, no matter where you go to do your snorkeling, the most important thing of all should be your safety and, luckily, there are many things you can do to ensure a safe snorkeling experience every time.
First things first, if you’ve never snorkeled before, we highly suggest taking a class or going on a guided snorkeling expedition. Snorkeling is not as hard as scuba diving or anything, but it can still have some dangers and risks if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thus, the first few times you go, it’s good to have the help of someone experienced.
In addition to being honest with yourself about whether or not you need help, be honest with yourself about how strong of a swimmer you are. If you are not fully confident in your swimming ability, especially if the water conditions were to suddenly get rough, then you should probably wear a life jacket while you snorkel. Don’t worry. It won’t negatively affect your experience, and it will be a whole lot safer too.
We also suggest talking with locals or the snorkeling company, if applicable, about water safety and quality in the area where you are. Whether it’s one of the areas on our list or not, Hawaii’s waters can range from calm to super-fast and dangerous.
You absolutely need to know what kind of water you are about to step into when you make the decision to go snorkeling. If the water is too rough for your skill level, that’s okay. You can find somewhere else to snorkel. Being mildly inconvenienced and having to find a different snorkel spot is a whole lot better than drowning cause you got in over your head (literally).
In addition to following these tips, use only quality snorkeling gear. You want equipment you can rely on to keep you safe and to keep you floating if needed. If you buy your own, then look for quality products backed by a warranty. And, if you are renting from a snorkeling shop, ask about safety and testing of the products. You can never be too careful.
When you snorkel, do not approach any marine animals, even if they appear friendly. Remember the “look, but don’t touch” rule you were taught as a child. Also, if you become concerned, feel “off,” or just need a break, don’t hesitate to return to the surface. Pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. By doing that and following the rest of our advice closely, your snorkel experience in Hawaii should be a positive one.