When it comes to snorkeling in Hawaii, finding the best spots while visiting can be a lot of research. Oahu and Maui have some pretty nice places to snorkel, but I think Kauai has them beat.
If you’re planning a trip to Kauai, one of Hawaii’s islands, you’ll be excited to know that you’re actually headed to an island with some of the best beaches and snorkeling destinations in the world.
With this good news, the only thing you need to worry about is where you’re headed. Lucky for you, we get our source from the best advice out there from a local.
Keep scrolling to find out the best Kauai beaches for beginner and advanced snorkelers. And see where to go snorkeling on Kauai with kids.
Here are 9 of the best Kauai snorkeling spots that you will find.
1. TUNNELS BEACH
On the northern seashores of Kauai, lies Tunnels Beach, (Makua Beach) a horseshoe-shaped bay filled with huge coral formations.
Tunnels Beach on the Island of Kauai.
Many people claim Tunnels Beach has the best snorkeling in Kauai.
This is considered an advanced snorkeling location because of the size and power of the strong currents.
If you’re there snorkeling at the right time, you might catch schools of colorful fish of all different species and even a visit from Galapagos sharks.
This snorkeling destination is a seasonal location because, in the winter, strong winds and currents make it much more dangerous.
Be aware that Tunnels Beach can get overwhelming and crowded with visitors (since it’s one of the most popular Kauai snorkeling beaches), so plan to get to the beach early.
One last important note: make sure that you use the restroom and plan to bring some food beforehand. There are no restaurants or restrooms anywhere nearby.
A great snorkeling beach for both beginners and advanced individuals alike would be Poipu Beach Park.
Monk seal resting on Poipu Beach.
This is one of my favorite places to snorkel in Kauai because the water is usually calm and it’s easy to snorkel with kids.
It’s actually two beaches that are separated by a tombolo with a tiny island not too far out to sea.
While this snorkeling spot doesn’t have as much sea life around as some ideal snorkeling spots, you will still see the occasional seal or sea turtles and other species of fish.
Believe it or not, the summertime is actually the worst time for Poipu snorkeling, so check with a lifeguard on the conditions of the currents.
Find out more fun things to do in Poipu
3. HEAD TO NUALOLO KAI BEACH FOR SNORKELING ON KAUAI
Located close to an ancient fishing village on the Na Pali coast, Nualolo Kai Beach is a unique snorkeling destination.
View on Na Pali Coast on Kauai.
That’s because there’s only one way of getting there, by an authorized boat landing.
Not only does that make this Nualolo Kai snorkeling experience more intimate, but the water itself seems to be clearer around this point of the beach.
The majestic towering mountains that are above you on this beach make this spot even more incredible.
With the colorful fish, plentiful coral, and surrounding beauty, this very well might be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
4. PALI KE KUA BEACH (HIDEAWAY BEACH)
Some people call Pali Ke Kua Beach, Hideaway Beach, perhaps because it’s easier to say, or how you get there.
Hideaway Beach is located on Kauai’s North Shore and can be a bit tricky to get to.
To reach this location, you’ll have to be willing to go for a bit of a hike and climb, using rope, from the Pali Ke Kua condos.
If you can get past all that, this beach has shallow clear-blue water teeming with fish. And it’s one of the top Kauai snorkel spots!
Plus, it’s pretty convenient if you are already staying up in Hanalei or Princeville. And because it’s hard to get to, it’s usually less crowded than other Kauai beaches.
5. HANALEI BAY
Hanalei Bay isn’t the most ideal location on this list for best snorkeling spots in Kauai but still has beautiful features none-the-less.
Hanalei Bay is on Kauai.
Because of the sandy bottom and lack of reefs along the ocean floor, many locals would tell you to snorkel elsewhere.
For a little secret, the best location for snorkeling in the area can be found along the western edge of the bay.
But you don’t have to take my word for it if you want to explore.
6. QUEEN’S BATH
Queen’s Bath is by far, the most challenging snorkeling spot to get to on Kauai. In fact, it’s downright dangerous. That’s what makes this secluded spot even more special.
Snorkeling swimmer in Queens Bath near Princeville, Kauai.
You’ll have to take a muddy and slippery hike through all kinds of terrain. Always be cautious.
Once you get there, there’s a large pool created and surrounded by countless rocks and lava formations.
This enclosed tide pool is neat, and something you don’t see every day.
There are also decent snorkeling spots in areas around the pool for you to see under the water.
7. LAWAI BEACH
Lawai Beach is sometimes referred to as the Beach House Beach because of the Beach House Restaurant.
Monk Seal on Lawai Beach.
That reason alone is enough for you to head to this beach. Plan your meal time reservations for around sunset for a gorgeous dinnertime setting.
Lawai Beach is a small, rocky beach with perfect conditions and beautiful surroundings.
The snorkeling here is great too because of the large rock wall and calmer waters, ideal for spotting different colorful species of fish, seals, and sea turtles.
8. KE`E BEACH FOR SOME OF THE BEST SNORKELING ON KAUAI
Another beach along the northern shores of Kauai, resides Ke’e Beach.
This beach is in a far more secluded area because of the long scenic drive, yet still brings in huge crowds.
Kee Beach on Kauai, Hawaii.
It’s actually the perfect snorkeling spot for beginners and less-experienced snorkelers because of the calmer currents, due to the protective reef formations.
Always be attentive on where the reef is, so that you don’t get taken too far out to sea.
At the right times you may notice green sea turtles, parrotfish, raccoon butterfly fish, triggerfish, yellow tang and many more.
9. LYDGATE BEACH PARK
Your whole family, young or old can enjoy snorkeling at the Lydgate Beach Park.
Lydgate Beach Park. Photo credit: Ron Cogswell
That’s because two pools were created by closing them off from the ocean and from strong currents. Because of this, it’s one of the best beaches in Kauai for swimming.
While this might seem disappointing to some, there are openings for fish to still come in and out so that you can swim alongside them.
For the more expert snorkelers, there are spots beyond the pools where you can swim, but you should know, this area is not covered in sea life and fish like other great snorkeling areas.
These are 9 spots for the best snorkeling on Kauai. If you’re planning a visit soon, where will you go?