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Best places to snorkel in Kauai – 5 spots you need to visit

The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and the fourth largest, Kauai is a beautiful island with lush green mountain ranges, stunning beaches, and surrounded by beautiful waters. For enthusiasts of water sports, the temperate climate, warm waters, and amazing coral reefs make this island in Hawaii an ideal location. If you are ready to explore the rich marine life, find here the 5 best places to snorkel in Kauai!

Anett Szaszi - Snorkel Around The World

Written by Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver, and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years of experience. She fell in love with the ocean while snorkeling in the Red Sea on a vacation to Egypt back in 2008. Since then, she has been traveling to discover the world’s best snorkeling spots and sharing her experience and tips to inspire others. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

Best time to snorkel in Kauai

The best time to visit Kauai for snorkeling is April through October. During this period, air temperatures are generally in the 70s and 80s, while the ocean temperatures are generally in the 70s. These months also bring ideal the wave conditions for snorkeling in Kauai.

Napali coast Kauai
Kauai’s coastline

Should you want to see the most active life on the reef, go snorkeling in the early mornings. Early afternoon is also a great time to snorkel as the sun provides for great lighting to increase visibility.

5 Best Kauai snorkeling spots

Anini Beach

The best places to snorkel in Kauai are spread out across the island, but visitors find the most ideal conditions along the north shore. Our top pick is Anini Beach, which offers certainly the best snorkeling in Kauai north shore.

Anini Beach is located just off Highway 56, between Princeville and Kilauea, and can be reached by road. The beach is not as busy as other beaches on the island. For the best Anini beach snorkeling experience, arrive in the early morning since the wind usually picks up later in the day.

There are picnic areas, bathrooms, and areas that can be used for parties along the beach, so it is recommended for families. Keep in mind that there is no lifeguard on duty, however.

Poipu Beach

Fortunately, once can find nice beaches along the south shore too. Poipu Beach near the southernmost tip of the island just south of Koloa is not only one of the best places to snorkel in Kauai, but also was voted one of the best beaches in America.

A Poipu Beach snorkeling trip is a must if you want to encounter the endangered Hawaiian monk seals. There are approx. 1,200 Hawaiian monk seals in existence, and Poipu Beach is the best spot where you can see them.

Hawaiian monk seal on the beach - Kauai

This beach is ideal for families with children, therefore is popular with locals and tourists too. There is a lifeguard on duty and the facilities include showers, restrooms, and picnic areas. The snorkeling area here is small but one can find here a wide variety of coral and fish. Early mornings are recommended to beat the crowds.

Looking for more snorkeling places in Hawaii? Read our articles:

Lawai Beach

Lawai along the southern shore, west of Poipu Beach off of Highway 520 is a smaller beach. It is best to check out snorkeling here during lower tides and calm weather. Healthy coral can be seen further away from the shore. There are also sea cucumbers and sea urchins present. Lawai beach is also a great place to see turtles and a wide variety of fish. Like Poipu, visitors to the beach can also see the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. 

Sea turtle in Lawai beach

Tip: The Sheraton Kauai Resort is among the best places to stay in Kauai for snorkeling. It is located right between Poipu and Lawai beaches offering comfortable access to both excellent snorkeling spots. 


Ke’e Beach

Another nice place for snorkeling in Kauai on the northwestern tip of the island, near the Hāʻena State Park is Ke’e Beach. Underwater explorers find the most ideal conditions here in summer as the waters are calmer.

Rainbow Parrotfish Hawaii
Rainbow Parrotfish – Ke’e Beach

Ke’e Beach is one of the best places to snorkel in Kauai for beginners and in addition to common reef fish, lucky snorkelers might also be able to see green sea turtles. Famous for being the last place that can be reached by road along Kauai’s North Shore, Ke’e Beach is a great place for kids and families with its relaxed vibes.

Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach, also known as Makua Beach, is a place for snorkelers that have a moderate amount of experience. Because of the strong currents that run along the beach, it is not recommended for families with kids that want to get in the water, but advanced explorers will certainly have fun here.

Early mornings are the best time to snorkel here when various marine species including reef fish, eels, and turtles can be spotted. If you are lucky, you might encounter Hawaiian monk seals too.

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Kauai best snorkeling spots

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