Best Snorkeling in Hawaii

The Hawaiian islands are most certainly known for tropical rainforests, awe inspiring waterfalls, and pristine beach views. But you would be missing out on adventure if you failed to plan a snorkeling trip while you were there. No matter which Hawaiian island you visit, there’s a magical underwater world of color and grand design hidden beneath the waves just waiting to be explored. Discover the best snorkeling in Hawaii.   

Anini Beach


You and your family have the chance to dive in and explore Kauai Island’s largest coral reef when you pay a visit to Anini Beach. There’s sure to be sea turtles and other sea creatures. Plus an ocean teeming with all kinds of beautiful fish. Even though there may be shallower waters there, the beach is particularly known for its strong ocean currents. So beginner snorkelers will need to use extreme caution.   

Some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii is in Oahu with beautiful clear waters
Oahu is home to some of Hawaii’s best snorkeling.

Hanuma Bay


If you’re searching for one of the best places to snorkel on the island of Oahu, you will find it at Hanauma Bay. The bay itself was formed inside of a volcanic cone, helping to create calmer waters that are ideal for snorkelers. Sea turtles, tropical fish, and other sea creatures can easily be spotted there. While there may be more visitors than you like there, the amazing scenery and shallow shimmering waters make it worth it.  

This protected area has a parking fee of $3, a park entrance fee of $12 (12 and under are free). It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays to provide a couple of days of rest for the sea creatures.   

Honolua Bay 


If you’re planning a trip to Maui and are thinking about snorkeling or scuba diving, Honolua Bay comes highly recommended. The summer months are the best time for snorkeling there. Cove waters are dazzling turquoise blue, unusual coral formations, sea turtles, and teems of tropical fish. 

For those of you that venture out a little further, you may see lobster, eagle rays, and Hawaiian Spinner dolphins. But if you happen to be visiting during the winter months, you’ll want to pick up a surfboard instead and ride some truly impressive waves. Honolua Bay is located within the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District on the northwest shores of the island.      

Insider Tip: Discover the best Hawaiian island for kids!

Kahalu’u Beach Park

Big Island 

Snorkeling has been a popular watersport at Kahalu’u Beach Park for hundreds of years. In fact, the Hawaiian king Kamehameha (1782-1819) loved these beautiful waters so much that he constructed a seawall there. 

Beneath the crystal blue surface, your family will have the opportunity to see sea turtles. Also eels, octopuses, sea urchins, and over a hundred different species of tropical fish. These fish  include: Hawaiian Spotted Boxfish, Yellow Tang, Orangespine Unicornfish, Bullethead Parrotfish, and so many more.     

Snorkeling with colorful tropical fish.

Kealakekua Bay 

Big Island 

Located on the western side of Big Island, the historic site of Kealakekua Bay was once visited by the famous British explorer James Cook in 1779. Boat tours and snorkeling adventures await you here. You may get the chance to see dolphins, sea turtles, several different tropical fish species, and other marine life. 

Ke’e Beach 


Whether you choose to visit Ke’e Beach above, or below its waves, you’ll enjoy the most amazing views that your eyes may ever behold. The beach is protected by a massive reef, making snorkeling a very popular activity to do there. Sea turtles are also easy to spot while you’re there. You’ll find Ke’e Beach in Haena State Park on the north side of the island.   

Makaha Beach Park


Underwater caves and tunnels can be seen by snorkelers when visiting Makaha Beach Park. The beach is located only 35 miles away from Honolulu. It is best enjoyed by outdoor water enthusiasts during the summer months when the ocean is calmer. The water there is clear and filled with all kinds of sea life. This includes manta rays, dolphins, eels, sea turtles, and octopuses. 

The snorkeling lagoon at Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island.

Mauna Lani & Fairmont Orchid

Big Island

The area of Mauna Lani is home to two beaches with lagoons that are popular snorkeling spots. Book a stay at one of these resorts to have easy access. The Fairmont Orchid also has snorkel equipment available for guest use during non-Covid times. Both beaches have a gradual drop out to reefs. Where you will find beautiful Hawaii marine life, colorful tropical fish and even Hawaiian Green Turtles.

Insider Tip: Discover why you may want to stay in the Kona Kohala area of the Big Island during your visit.

Molokini Crater


The Molokini Crater is all that remains of a violent volcanic eruption that took place around 230,000 years ago. Today, it’s a refuge for birds, marine sea creatures, and other types of wildlife. 

The crater is located about 3 miles off the coast of Maui. It is considered to be one of Hawaii’s top attractions. The pristine clear waters that surround the crater is home to well over 250 different species of fish. Just lookout for the sea wall on the backside of the crater when it immediately drops off hundreds of feet. Yikes!   

Hawaiian Green Turtles are on type of Hawaii marine life that you may be able to spot while snorkeling.

Tunnels Beach 


With a beach backdrop so breathtaking, you will certainly want to spend some extra time with your head above water after a fun-filled day of snorkeling at Tunnels Beach. Often referred to as Mauka Beach, it’s located on the north side of the island. Here there are lush green forests and sparkling clear waters. 

The beach is especially known for its swimming, sunbathing, surfing, windsurfing, and snorkeling. Visitors have the opportunity to explore from above the underwater caverns and tunnels that were created by lava tubes.    

These are some of the best snorkeling locations on all of the islands of Hawaii. Which of these destinations are you planning on snorkeling when you visit in the near future? Have you ever snorkeled at any of these locations?

Best Snorkeling in Hawaii

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *