Snorkeling Hawaii: Where and When to Visit

snorkeling hawaii
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It’s far too often that people think that snorkeling Hawaii isn’t an experience that they need to have, especially as it’s a destination within the United States.

Although Hawaii isn’t as far as the Galapagos Islands, for example, it doesn’t mean that it’s a low-quality snorkeling spot that you won’t feel like you’re missing out on.

One of our top-tier recommendations is to consider all of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii, including the several locations we’ll explore below.

Snorkeling Hawaii: Top Destinations

1. Turtle Town, Maui

Much like its name suggests, Turtle Town is home to some of the state’s largest populations of green sea turtles.

You’ll also have the opportunity to view moray eels, octopus, and angelfish.

However, all of the species in the water have the same rule: you can look but don’t touch.

The beauty of Turtle Town is also something you aren’t likely to forget.

It’s formed thanks to underwater lava eruptions due to the submarine volcanoes.

You’ll be able to get to Turtle Beach through the Makena Beach and Golf Resort.

Although it is closed, the snorkeling spot is still accessible.

Also, you’ll be glad to know that snorkelers of all experience levels will be able to benefit from this area, as it appears to be perfectly designed for beginners and veterans alike.

2. Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, Big Island

Located on the Big Island, Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park is another snorkeling destination that is fantastic for all levels.

There are multiple water activities you can participate in while visiting this area, whether you want to get into the water for snorkeling or if you feel like kayaking through the calm waters.

Regardless of what you choose, be sure to look out for Hawaiian spinner dolphins.

They are in abundance in this area and would love to put on a show for you.

The entire shoreline of Ka’awaloa is protected, which allows you to view a ton of marine life in their natural and safe habitats, including reef sharks, turtles, rays, and eels.

Located just 12 miles outside of Historic Kailua Village in South Kona, Kealakekua Bay is one of the best places for the whole family to get together and have a great time outdoors.

3. Poipu Beach Park, Kauai

One of the most popular types of marine life that people come to visit is the national fish of Hawaii: humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

By visiting Poipu Beach Park, you have a heightened possibility of seeing this incredibly popular fish, as well as an ample amount of blue parrotfish and sea cucumbers.

Depending on when you visit the island, you may also be able to set your sights on humpback whales, especially if you plan your trip during whale season.

Fortunately, Poipu Beach Park is another snorkeling spot that is suitable for all levels, and you’ll be able to get to it just 25 minutes outside of Lihue.

It’s located on the beautiful south shore of Kauai.

4. Makua Beach, Kauai

Everything that you need from an all-inclusive snorkeling experience can be found within Makua Beach, also known as Tunnels Beach, in Kauai.

You’ll be able to experience coral heads, rock formations, and a ton of caverns and channels that are called home by moray eels, trumpet fish, green sea turtles, and many more.

One of the most important things to note with this area in Hawaii is that during the winter, the waves can be incredibly tough to navigate through.

Unlike the other snorkeling spots on this list, the best parks of Makua Beach aren’t recommended for beginners.

You’re going to want to spend most of your time at the inner reef if you’re starting.

For advanced snorkelers, we highly recommend venturing out to the outer reef for the most immersive experience possible.

5. Night Manta Snorkel, Big Island

If you’re curious about what a guided snorkeling session is like, you’re going to want to check out the nighttime Manta snorkeling sessions that are hosted by tour operators across the Big Island.

Using waterproof lights, the operators will light up for the floor of the ocean, which attracts plankton, the primary food source of Pacific Manta Rays.

Some of these rays can weigh up to 3,000 pounds and have wingspans as large as 20 feet, which makes them an incredible species to see with your own eyes.

You might be curious as to whether they are safe to swim with, and the answer is yes.

With their glorious underwater movements, it will feel as if you’re experiencing your very own underwater performance that you aren’t soon to forget.

However, this snorkeling spot is best for people with intermediate snorkeling experience.

6. Honolua Bay, Maui

Another fantastic destination you have to visit while in Hawaii is Honolua Bay.

It’s one of the best marine life conservation areas in the United States.

You have an excellent chance of setting your sights on several critters under the water and the opportunity to snorkel among rocky cliffs that help to protect you from the wind.

Snorkelers are likely to see unicorn fish, snapper, butterflyfish, sea urchins, and many more.

It’s also important to note that you will likely be sharing the water with a lot of surfers, as Honolua Bay is one of the most famous surf breaks out of all of the islands.

Due to the other people that you’ll be sharing the water with, it’s best if intermediate snorkelers visit this spot.

7. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu

Another stunning marine life conservation area is Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, located in a volcanic crater on the east side of Oahu.

One of the things you’re bound to love the most about this spot is that it is kept away from ocean swells, making it ideal for all experience levels.

It’s also one of the full areas with different types of fish, including porcupine fish, damselfish, trumpet fish, and more.

Final Thoughts

Snorkeling Hawaii spots can be a fantastic experience for enthusiasts who want to stay in the United States.

There are several jaw-dropping locations that you will be able to visit with the entire family, regardless of your experience level.

However, there are also a ton of intermediate to advanced dive spots for the more experienced individuals.

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