Snorkeling in Molokai Hawaii – Best spots to snorkel
Molokai is not the most popular destination when it comes to Hawaii’s best snorkel spots due to the often harsh weather conditions and strong currents, therefore it usually stays under the radar. But in fact, the fifth largest Hawaiian island is home not only to breath-taking waterfalls and tall sea cliffs, but also to the archipelago’s longest fringing reef lying about half mile off the southern coast featuring an abundance of healthy corals and rich marine life that you can freely explore if you come in the right time. Here in this guide, we tell you what the best beaches for snorkeling in Molokai are!
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Kumimi Beach Park – Murphy Beach
Kumimi Beach -located on the southeast shore at Mile Marker 20- offers the best snorkeling in Molokai. This is the spot that is calm throughout the year and almost always safe for water activities.
Therefore, this narrow white sandy beach is an excellent place for kids and beginners too. In the shallow water, you can observe various Hawaiian fish species.
The best time to snorkel here is at high tide, because if the tide is low the beach gets very rocky that increases the risk of getting injured. Also, keep in mind that always swim only on the inner side of the reef and stay out of the water if large waves breaking offshore.
Right before Kumimi, there is another Molokai snorkeling beach at Mile Marker 18 called Waialua. This nice sandy beach is protected by the offshore reef so the conditions are often good for some underwater exploration.
Don’t expect a fantastic snorkeling experience, but there are small coral heads in the clear, shallow water with some fish around that makes it a nice spot for beginners. There are no amenities here but some trees that provide shade making Waialua an excellent place to have a picnic and relax.
Halawa Beach Park
On the east shore of the island, at the east end of Highway 450 lies Halawa Park that is comprised of two beaches, Kawili and Kama’alaea beaches. This park is a popular surfing spot thanks to the big waves during winter, although in summer, snorkeling is also possible if you are here when the weather is good.
This means that the water is calm and there was no rain since if it is (or it was) raining in the mountains, the rainwater enters the ocean here carried by Halawa Stream that makes the water murky.
If you visit this Molokai snorkeling spot when all conditions are ideal, there is a small reef in the middle of Kama’alaea beach (this is the one on the west). But don’t be sad if the water is not calm enough for swimming! Halawa is an excellent place to sunbathe and spend a nice day in a beautiful natural environment.
Kapukahehu Beach – Dixie Maru Cove
Located on the western shore at the end of Pohakuloa Road, Kapukahehu is the perfect place for those who wish to enjoy the sun and sea at a remote spot. This sheltered, crescent-shaped sandy cove is fringed by a reef that protects from large waves making it an excellent beach for swimming and snorkeling in Molokai, especially during summer.
Kapukahehu is also called Dixie Maru Cove after the Japanese sailboat that wrecked off here in the 1920s. The name plate of the boat was placed near the beach’s entrance therefore people started to call this place Dixie Maru.
There are no lifeguards here, so stay out of the water if the surf is up and follow the island’s unwritten swimming rule: if there are no local folks in the water, don’t go in.
Snorkeling in Maui
Big Island snorkel spots
Where to snorkel in Oahu
Kauai snorkeling guide
One of the best spots to go snorkeling is Molokai is little island of Moku-Ho’Oniki (Elephant Rock) off the northeast end of Molokai. The corals are extremely vibrant and healthy here, especially on the south side of the rock and the amount of fish is incredible.
Moku Ho‘oniki is a very advanced Molokai snorkeling place and accessible only by very good conditions when there is no strong wind and the water is calm, therefore we recommend searching for an experienced tour operator like Molokai Fish And Dive if you want to visit it.
When the weather allows, there are snorkel tours departing from Kaunakakai Harbour that will take you to Moku Ho‘oniki, or to another snorkel spot on the fringing reef on where the conditions are the best to dive.
No matter which place you will visit, the water is amazingly clear with 70-140 ft visibility that makes it easy to observe colorful reef fish like triggerfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish, trumpetfish and also green turtles. If you are lucky, you will encounter dolphins and maybe humpback whales too during the trip.
Papohaku Beach Park
During the summer months when the ocean is calmer, Papohaku Beach Park can be another beach to go snorkeling in Molokai. This 3-miles-long, 300 yards wide stretch of sand is the longest beach in all of Hawaii with distant views of Oahu’s Diamond Head.
It is an unspoiled paradise with azure waters and soft sand that is hardly visited making it an excellent spot for a relaxed beach day. There are restrooms, picnic tables and BBQ spots and you can even camp here if you get a permit from Kaunakakai Department of Parks.
No lifeguard on duty here, so never go swimming/snorkeling if the ocean conditions are dangerous, especially in fall and winter. When on a vacation in Hawaii, we recommend monitoring the oceansafety.hawaii.gov website to get an up-to-date surf and wind report.
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