Have you always wanted to see tropical fish, green sea turtles, monk seals, and other interesting creatures in their native habitats? If so, there’s perhaps no better way than snorkeling along the coasts of Kauai. But with over 50 miles of beaches around the island, it’s often hard to decide where to spend your time. However, you cannot go wrong with any of the following six beaches. So, pick any of them with confidence that you’re on your way to an amazing underwater experience.
Home to the absolute biggest reef in all the Hawaiian Islands, Anini Beach never fails to impress with its diverse wildlife. At this North Shore beach, solar-powered sea slugs hide in the grass beds and often end up accompanied by green sea turtles in need of a grassy snack. Lionfish, white-mouth moray eels, and leaf scorpionfish all hang out around the coral while flounders hide in the shallow areas.
To get the best view, go out to the water’s edge near the first parking area. Then, gain your bearings in the shallows before following the reef to the orange buoy. After that, follow along the perimeter of the reef while taking a moment to simply float for a moment in hopes of catching sight of sea creatures moving through the water.
Lydgate Beach Park
Well-known as one of the best beaches in East Side Kauai for families, Lydgate Beach Park offers phenomenal snorkeling experiences for all ages. With its two enclosed ponds along its stretch, this beach offers a chance to snorkel without getting hit by powerful waves. The crevices in the walls of the pond still let small reef fish come toward the beach, ensuring you can see a wide variety of beautiful creatures.
When you’re not snorkeling around, there is plenty of room for picnics plus access to the nearby Kamalani Playground. More often than not, the beach has trained lifeguards on duty as well, so you can swim to your heart’s content without worry.
Makua Beach is the place to go in North Shore Kauai for a glimpse at large coral formations. Also known as Tunnels Beach, this small bay doesn’t appear like much at first glance, but it actually features a huge coral reef. The horseshoe-shaped reef surrounds the shallow bay waters, creating a protected area for tons of fish, green sea turtles, and more.
Unless you’re an experienced snorkeler, you’ll want to stay inshore along the left edge of the reef to avoid the strong currents. If you’re a seasoned adventurer, however, the large coral heads are well worth exploring. You can find them by heading out along the right side of the reef and swimming out about 1,000 feet from the shore.
If you want a relatively secluded snorkeling experience, set your sights on Kee Beach. Located on the furthest reaches of North Shore, this beach gives you a place to explore beautiful coral reefs practically undisturbed. Although this quiet spot still gets enough visitors to fill up the small parking lot, it’s much less crowded than more popular Kauai beaches. To avoid parking madness, just bring a picnic lunch and show up early, so you can spend the day snorkeling along the reef.
Once you make it to the waterside, wade straight from the car park until you reach the visible reef. Then, follow the reef east until you hit the sandy shores once again. Do not follow the reef west or you’ll run into seriously powerful currents. Repeat the journey if you’d like to see all the creatures once more before ending your day of snorkeling.
Poipu Beach Park
A true South Shore favorite, Poipu Beach Park serves as a fantastic place to spot monk seals and green sea turtles. The park features two crescent-shaped beaches separated by a long sand spit in the middle. Also known as a tombola, the sand spit gives the local seals somewhere to nap in the sun in between meals. Sea turtles like to hang out in the protected cove during the day, and then come up onto the sandy shores at sunset.
Snorkeling is best enjoyed on the eastern side of the beach. The protected cove has far fewer waves and avid bodyboard enthusiasts as a result. Lifeguards usually overlook both sides of the beach though, giving tons of peace of mind as you explore the open waterways. So, if you’re comfortable navigating the waves, try both sides of the beach.
Prince Kuhio Beach
Prince Kuhio Beach offers a memorable snorkeling experience thanks to its relatively calm waters, beautiful views, and proximity to the Beach House Restaurant. Sometimes also referred to as Lawai Beach, this popular South Shore spot attracts many visitors interested in seeing all the action happening along the offshore reef. Sea turtles are a common sight, as are tropical fish, eels, and rays.
Since it’s also home to three awesome surf breaks, you do need to watch for surfers while snorkeling along. But the surfing fun makes for an amazing view whenever you need to return to the shore for a rest. After you’re done, you can get a meal at the restaurant next door to restore your energy while dining on the tasty island fare.
If you get the chance, definitely go to each of the beaches on this list to experience snorkeling in a whole new way every time. As you explore all the different underwater landscapes, you’ll get to see a wide range of amazing sea creatures in their exquisite tropical habitats.
Want to capture the memories to share far and wide? Simply bring an underwater camera along for the ride and snap photo after photo of the magnificence all around you. Just remember not to use your flash or you could disturb the protected green sea turtles and monk seals.