Best of Hawaii
Best Snorkeling Spots in Hawaii
Hanauma Bay, Oahu. Oahu's most popular snorkeling spot is a curved, 2,000-foot gold-sand beach packed elbow-to-elbow with people year- round. Part of an old crater that fell into the sea, the bay's shallow shoreline water and abundant marine life are the main attractions to snorkelers. A shallow reef outside the bay protects the inside from surf rolling in, making the waters in the bay very calm. Hanauma Bay is a conservation district; you may look at but not touch or take any marine life here. Feeding the fish is also prohibited.
Kealakekua Bay, Big Island. Probably the best snorkeling for all levels can be found in Kealakekua Bay. The calm waters of this underwater preserve teem with a wealth of marine life. Coral heads, lava tubes, and underwater caves all provide an excellent habitat for Hawaii's vast array of tropical fish, making mile-wide Kealakekua the Big Island's best accessible spot for snorkeling and diving. Without looking very hard, you can see octopi, free-swimming moray eels, parrotfish, and goatfish; once in a while, a pod of spinner dolphins streaks across the bay.
Molokini, Maui. This marine life park is one of Hawaii's top dive and snorkel spots. This crescent-shaped crater has three tiers of diving: a 35-foot plateau inside the crater basin (used by beginning divers and snorkelers), a wall sloping to 70 feet just beyond the inside plateau, and a sheer wall on the outside and back-side of the crater that plunges 350 feet. This underwater park is very popular thanks to calm, clear, protected waters and an abundance of marine life, from manta rays to clouds of yellow butterflyfish.
Murphy (Kumimi) Beach, Molokai. Just don your gear and head for one of the best beaches for snorkeling on the East End, where you'll find lots of exotic tropical fish, including long-nosed butterflyfish, saddle wrasses, and convict tangs.
Oceanarium, Kauai. Northwest of Hanalei Bay, offshore you'll find a kaleidoscopic marine world in a horseshoe-shaped cove. From the rare (long-handed spiny lobsters) to the more common (taape, conger eels, and nudibranchs), the resident population is one of the more diverse on the island. The topography, which features pinnacles, ridges, and archways, is covered with cup corals, black-coral trees, and nooks and crannies enough for a dozen dives. Snorkelers will be happy at nearby Hanalei Bay.