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Best Snorkeling In Kauai For Beginners

Best Places To Snorkel In Kauai

3 Best Snorkeling Spots in Kauai for Beginners – Kauai, HI

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Beautiful Kauai is often called the Garden Island thanks to its thick, tropical rainforests, green valleys, and stunning waterfalls. In fact, many parts of Hawaiis oldest island are only accessible via sea or air, with huge chunks of Kauai virtually unexplored. But this popular family vacation spot in Hawaii isnt just beautiful from the air: it has plenty to offer both above and below sea level.

Kauai is home to some of Hawaiis most impressive snorkeling and scuba diving spots, with just as many sites for beginners as there are for advanced snorkelers who know their way around the ocean. From rainbow corals to shoals of fish, groups of turtles, and even dolphins, read on for all of Kauais best snorkeling spots to check out on your next trip to this magical island.

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South Shore Snorkeling Excursions

After a few snorkeling trips close to shore, your spouse muses about what snorkeling might be like even further offshore in deeper waters. The kids jump in to speculate on the possibilities as well. Would they see more fish? Sea urchins? Coral reefs? Slithering eels?

You look into the possibilities and decide to surprise your family with a snorkel tour on a catamaran or zodiac boat out to the more hidden snorkel spots on Kauai. The blown-out lava tube at Sheraton Caverns is a popular destination for divers, but snorkeling tours head out to that area as well. Youll swim along the surface gazing down at huge lava formations, and youre likely to see larger marine life than you spotted closer to shore. During your boat ride out to the site, you might even see a whale or two skirting along the Kauai coast.

For a tranquil deep water snorkel experience on the south side of Kauai, consider a trip to the private reef Kipu Kai, which is only accessible via boat. Youll get to snorkel away from the crowds, and the abundance of fish in the crystal clear waters makes it well worth the trip. Once youre in the water, it feels like you and the fish are the only ones around for miles. Lunch is provided on the boat, so all you need to do is show up and get ready to explore some of the best snorkeling locations on Kauai. North shore snorkeling trips on the Na Pali coast are also available, although ocean conditions sometimes limit access to that part of the Kauai coastline.

The Ultimate Kauai Snorkel Adventure

Planning an aquatic adventure in Kauai? You must include the best places to snorkel in Kauai in your itinerary! Most of the best beaches for snorkeling in Kauai are accessible without a tour. However, the remote yet breathtaking stretch of the Na Pali coastline is the exception. To experience this Kauai. snorkeling spot, we recommend any of the tours below by Kauai Sea Tours:

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Best Snorkeling On Kauai

Kauai is a circular-shaped island surrounded by extensive reefs. Overall, the best beaches in Kauai for snorkeling are found along the north and south coasts, with a handful of other great locations in other regions of the island.

To make it easier for you to plan your snorkel adventures and choose the best place to stay in Kauai, weve divided the island into four main areas and listed the best places to snorkel in each instead of ranking them.

Something to keep in mind when planning is that some areas along the coastline are steep and rugged, so it isnt always possible to drive along the coastline from place to place.

Snorkeling South Shore Of Kauai:

Best Snorkeling in Hawaii

Poipu Beach has been ranked as one of America’s best beaches and is undoubtedly one of Hawaii’s favorites. There is something for everyone here including swimming, body surfing, a shallow protected area for children, and good snorkeling to the west of the tombolo . Poipu Beach Park includes fresh water showers and a playground. A restaurant and convenience store are also right across the street.

Prince Kuhio Beach The bay across from Prince Kuhio Park is a great spot to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, also know by their Hawaiian name Honu. Park along the street in front of the park and use the small beach to the east of Kuhio Shores. During high surf, the tide tends to pull you west along the front of the seawall. If this happens stay calm and exit the water past the sea wall being careful not to step on any sea urchins which have sharp spines that can puncture your skin and break off. Although not life threatening, it is very painful.

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Before You Go Snorkeling

Before you get in the water, there are some snorkeling safety precautions to consider. Check the weather before heading to the beach and make sure you have proper, functioning equipment. Observe the water for a half-hour to look for currents, large rocks, sand bars, and other factors that could pose a threat to your safety. Additionally, be respectful of the coral reef and do not touch it or the fish and marine plant life who live around it.

Snorkeling Gear For Beginners: Where To Find Them In Kauai

To lighten your travel baggage, you can rent snorkeling gear in any part of the island. Depending on the rental, you can rent them for a week, sometimes even a month.

As mentioned earlier, finding a good mask and snorkel are of paramount importance. If the fit does not satisfy you, feel free to exchange the gear for a different one.

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Kapaa Beach State Park


While Kapaa Beach doesnt have the same natural beauty that some other beaches have, its still a decent place to go snorkeling. Most times, guests staying in the nearby hotels use this beach because it has restrooms, showers, and covered areas for shade on a hot day.

When the waves are calm, you can have an excellent snorkeling experience on the northern part of Kapaa Beach. See clownfish, starfish, sea urchins, pufferfish, sea cucumbers, parrotfish, and more.

Some Popular And Favorite Kauai Snorkeling Spots

Beginner Tips for Snorkelling in Hawaii

Looking for where to snorkel in Kauai? Also continue down this page for a Kauai snorkeling video, pictures, and more about what you can expect.

Kauai Snorkeling Guide eBook -The sample locations below are just a few from our popular eBook guide. You get:

  • The Best Snorkeling on Kauai
  • Easy Find Directions and Maps
  • 555 Beautiful Pictures

Lawai Beach This popular spot, great for seeing fish, is also called Beach House Beach.

Koloa Landing From an old boat ramp you can explore reef full of sea life.

Poipu Beach Park Busy with snorkelers, this pretty beach can be good for beginners.

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Where And What Are The Different Spots To Snorkel In Kauai

Lydgate Park

If its your first time in Kauai, a great beginners spot to start your snorkeling adventures is at Lydgate Park, Keiki pond. The childrens pond is protected year-round by a man-made rock wall and has numerous fish enjoying themselves near the outer rocks. Its a popular destination for families because you wont have to worry about strong ocean currents or crashing waves.

Poipu Beach

Another recommended snorkeling spot for beginners is the Poipu beach park on the south side of the island. The snorkeling area is quite small but to the right of the sands are rocky areas with corals where quite a few fish swim. Youll also be able to spot a Hawaiian monk seal from time to time lying on the beaches if youre lucky.

Makua Beach

The Makua, or Tunnels beach meanwhile, is often considered to not just be the best snorkeling spot in Kauai, but the best beach spot in Hawaii, period. The beach offers tourists and vacationers some of the best opportunities to observe excellent coral formations as well as a wide range of fish and other marine life. Be prepared to take safety precautions if snorkeling in the tunnels is on your itinerary as the beach is exposed to really strong ocean currents so the snorkeling spot here is generally intended for advanced snorkelers only.

Nualolo Kai Reef

Kee Beach

Hideaways Beach

Koloa Landing

Lawai Beach

When To Go For Snorkeling

Because the snorkeling on Kauai is mostly exposed, it is more challenging to choose when to go for the best snorkeling conditions. The north shore, where many of the snorkeling spots are, is often inaccessible in the winter months because of high swell, the same swell that makes Oahu a surfing mecca in the winter. But the south shore can get a swell in the summer months. Read more details about the snorkeling conditions on our when to snorkel Hawaii page, including air and water temperatures, swell, wind, rain, hurricane season, and tourist high seasons.

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Ke`e Beach For Some Of The Best Snorkeling On Kauai

Another beach along the northern shores of Kauai resides Kee Beach.

This beach is in a far more secluded area because of the long scenic drive, yet still brings in huge crowds.

Its actually the perfect snorkeling spot for beginners and less-experienced snorkelers because of the calmer currents, due to the protective reef formations.

Always be attentive to where the reef is so that you dont get taken too far out to sea.

At the right times, you may notice green sea turtles, parrotfish, raccoon butterflyfish, triggerfish, yellow tang, and many more.

Your whole family, young or old can enjoy snorkeling at Lydgate Beach Park.

Thats because two pools were created by closing them off from the ocean and from strong currents. Because of this, its one of the best beaches in Kauai for swimming.

While this might seem disappointing to some, there are openings for fish to still come in and out so that you can swim alongside them.

For the more expert snorkelers, there are spots beyond the pools where you can swim, but you should know, this area is not covered in sea life and fish like other great snorkeling areas.

Snorkeling East Shore Of Kauai:

Where to snorkel on Kauai during winter

Lydgate Beach Park is located on Kauai’s east shore between Lihue and Wailua. Follow highway 56 to Leho Drive near mile marker 5. Lydgate is perhaps the best Kauai snorkeling spot for children and beginners. It is protected by a small lagoon that is enclosed by a man made rock wall. You can see a surprising number of fish here including colorful parrotfish. The park also features a playground.

Moloa’a Beach has a few good snorkeling spots in the bay and are quite fun if the ocean is calm. It’s best not to enter the water during high surf because strong currents can develop and it’s easy to be pulled out to sea or pummeled into the shallow reefs in the bay. Take a few minutes to observe conditions and if waves are breaking over the reef don’t go in the water.

Larsen’s Beach has some great snorkeling spots in the deeper channels that run through the reef. The water is very clear with lots of fish, coral, and an interesting underwater topography. Especially if you stay to the right end of the beach. There is a rip tide that pulls water northwest across the reef draining into Pakala Channel where the long beach is interrupted by the outcropping of black lava rock . Avoid getting in or near this channel as the current is very strong here, flushing everything out to deeper water or across the sharp reef. Of course there are no life guards.

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Expanding Your Snorkeling Options

If your family includes snorkeling experts, or once youve searched for fish at some of the easier snorkel spots and honed your skills in calmer waters, you might think about heading up to Kauais north shore to explore the snorkeling options on that end of the island. Popular snorkeling spots on the north shore of Kauai include Kee Beach, Haena Beach Park and Anini Beach.

Best Spots To Snorkel In Kauai

The best spots to snorkel in Kauai are, in no particular order, Lydgate Park, Makua Tunnels beach, Nualolo Kai reef, Kee Beach, Hideaways Beach, Koloa Landing, Lawai Beach, Poipu Beach Park, and more, which we will further explain as you read on. Theyre a combination of snorkeling spots for first-time snorkelers as well as intermediate and advanced beach goers, with your utmost safety taken into consideration.

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Do Not Step On Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are extremely fragile and should be protected. As visitors, its important that you look with your eyes only, and not touch or stand on the coral.

Oils from fingers can damage or even kill an entire colony of coral. And standing up on it kills living coral polyps that are the foundation of the reef structure.

So dont touch and use care when getting in and out of the water or while adjusting your snorkel mask.

Best Snorkeling On Kauai For Beginners

Where to Snorkel on Kauai, Hawaii | 5 Best Snorkel Beaches on Kauai

Though it looks easy when youre watching from the beach, snorkeling is actually a difficult activity. Particularly, if youre a beginner. You have ocean currents to contend with, waves, and breathing into a tube which can feel unnatural.

In our opinion, the best snorkeling spot on Kauai for beginners is the pond at Lydgate beach. The water is protected from most currents, the bottom is mostly sandy, and there is a lifeguard on duty.

Related read: get our full list of kid friendly beaches on Kauai, perfect for getting the entire family in the water.

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Best Beaches In Kauai For Snorkeling

One of the main reasons most people visit Kauai is for the beautiful beaches, which boast soft sand and crystal-clear waters, so it is easy to understand why one of the most popular activities to enjoy here is snorkeling, which offers a look at the underwater world in Hawaii. If you want to spend time at the top places where the marine life is the most vibrant, here we tell you what the best beaches in Kauai for snorkeling are!

Best Snorkeling Locations On Kauai

The first thing we want to say about snorkeling on Kauai is this: please be cautious about it. Snorkeling fatalities on Kauai arent super common but theyre not super uncommon either and you can imagine how tragic it would be to leave Hawaii with one less person than you came with. It makes us shudder to think about and thats why we encourage everyone to respect the snorkel!

Things to be mindful of are: the time of the year/ocean conditions, using proper snorkeling gear, and feeling confident and relaxed in the water.

If youre visiting in the summertime, the north shore and south shore are both typically friendly. If youre visiting in the winter, youre much safer on the south shore. These are just basic rules of thumb though its strongly advised to check current conditions before going out and to snorkel and swim at beaches with lifeguards.

When you arrive at the beach youve chosen to snorkel on Kauai, we recommend you take at least fifteen minutes to sit and observe the water before going in. This not only gives time to let your reef-safe sunscreen soak in, but lets you see where others are entering and exiting the water.

With all that said, lets talk about four of our favorite snorkel spots on Kauai! Well start on the north shore and work clockwise around the island to the west.

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The 15 Best Snorkeling Spots In Kauai In 2022

Written by: Author Andrew Helling

Posted on Last updated:

Kauai is a beautiful coastline with a white sand beach that stretches approximately 50 miles. As you can imagine, ocean access is easy, which is an excellent sign that youll be able to engage in quality snorkeling excursions.

Some places are ideal for beginner-level swimmers, and other sites are for those more seasoned. Kauai is indeed a snorkelers paradise.

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Tips For Snorkeling In Kauai

Top Things to Do on Kauai

Going snorkeling in Kauai for the first time? Here are a few tips for snorkeling in Kauai, Hawaii.

  • Stay in protected areas if youre not a strong swimmer. The open ocean can have strong currents that may overpower you if you dont have advanced swimming skills and experience.
  • Never enter the sea without checking the conditions first. Many beaches have lifeguards present who can give you an up-to-date report on the conditions. If there are no lifeguards, observe the water for 20 minutes first before deciding.
  • Protect your feet when snorkeling around rocks and coral. The best spots to see marine life are close to the rocks and reefs. However, these sharp surfaces can cut your feet. Therefore, we recommend wearing fins or protective water shoes rather than snorkeling bare feet.
  • To explore multiple Kauai snorkeling spots in a short time, book a snorkeling guided tour. Snorkeling boat tours last anywhere from 3 to 8 hours, take you to all the best sites, and provide snorkeling equipment.

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Where Is The Best Snorkeling On Kauai

Kauais North Shore is renowned for its dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and lush tropical foliage. This is also where youll find some of the best snorkeling on the island. Kee Beach and Tunnels Beach are two of the most popular spots for snorkeling on Kauai. Kee Beach is known for its abundant sea life and clear waters, while Tunnels Beach is loved for its dramatic cliffs and caves.

On the island of Kauai, snorkelers can go snorkeling at nearly every beach. Big Green Sea Turtles are among the fish to be encountered during the perfect depths of the ocean. There is no better way to see the Na Pali Coast than with a boat tour in the summer. Please see the reviews and descriptions below for each location, as well as the photos. Continue reading for more information on the snorkling of the island and a video of the event. The natural beauty of this island makes snorkeling on it even more enjoyable. There are numerous places to go fishing on Kauai where you can get up close and personal with a large number of fish.

When the fish are more active at night, you should consider snorkeling at this time. Conditions should be pleasant, with a breeze, and visibility should be excellent. It is critical that you use sunscreen that is safe for coral exposure due to the intense sun during the day.

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