The Best Places to Snorkel in Hawaii

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii and love snorkeling, then you’re in for a treat. Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse marine life in the world, making it a snorkeler’s paradise.

Look forward to crystal clear waters, an abundance of colorful fish, and even the chance to swim with sea turtles and manta rays, because Hawaii offers a unique and unforgettable snorkeling experience.

The Best Places to Snorkel in Hawaii

With six main islands and numerous smaller ones, there are plenty of snorkeling sites to choose from. From the Big Island to Kauai, each island offers its own unique snorkeling experience with different marine life and underwater landscapes to explore. Let’s go over the best places to snorkel in Hawaii.

The Best Snorkeling Sites in Oahu

Hanauma Bay

best snorkeling sites in hanauma bay

Hanauma Bay is arguably the most popular snorkeling location on Oahu. Located on the southeastern coast of the island, this marine sanctuary offers calm waters and an astonishing array of aquatic life.

As you glide through the clear waters of Hanauma Bay, expect to encounter colorful coral reefs teeming with tropical fish, including butterflyfish and various species of reef fish.

Keep an eye out for Hawaiian green sea turtles, which often make an appearance in these thriving waters.

Shark’s Cove

best snorkeling sites in shark's cove
Thomas Shahan (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Located on Oahu’s famous North Shore, Shark’s Cove is an excellent spot for snorkelers to explore the island’s underwater wonders. The sheltered, rocky shoreline creates a natural pool with calm waters, making it an ideal destination for beginner snorkelers.

As you snorkel, you’ll be amazed by the vibrant sea life, including angelfish, parrotfish, moray eels, and flagtails. The clear waters also provide excellent visibility, ensuring you won’t miss any of the stunning marine life that calls this cove home.

Kahe Point Beach Park (Electric Beach)

Kahe Point Beach Park , also known as Electric Beach, is a unique snorkeling site located on the island’s western side. Thanks to the warm waters from a nearby power plant, this spot attracts a variety of sea creatures, making it an exceptional place to snorkel.

At Electric Beach, you’ll have the opportunity to swim amongst schools of tangs, wrasses, and even the occasional dolphin. The abundant coral reefs also provide a home for an assortment of colorful reef fish, ensuring an unforgettable snorkeling experience.

Makaha Beach Park

best snorkeling in makaha beach park
Nicolai Edgar Andersen, CC BY-SA 4.0

Another excellent spot for snorkeling on Oahu is Makaha Beach Park, situated on the island’s western coast. The sandy shoreline gradually gives way to impressive coral reefs, providing both beginner and experienced snorkelers with an exciting underwater adventure.

As you explore the waters of Makaha Beach Park, you’ll be greeted by an array of marine life, including butterflyfish, surgeonfish, and the occasional playful sea turtle. With its beautiful scenery and diverse sea life, Makaha Beach Park is a dream snorkeling destination for anyone visiting Oahu.

The Best Snorkeling Sites in Maui

Molokini Crater

snorkeling at molokini crater
Bossfrog, CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the most famous snorkeling spots in Maui, Molokini Crater, is an extinct volcanic crater located approximately three miles off the coast of Maui.

The crescent-shaped island provides a unique underwater experience with clear waters and diverse marine life, making it a popular choice for snorkelers.

As you explore Molokini Crater, you’ll be surrounded by vibrant coral reefs that are home to over 250 species of fish, including parrotfish and Hawaiian green sea turtles.

You might even have the chance to spot the elusive and majestic monk seals that occasionally visit the area.

Honolua Bay


Honolua Bay on the northwest shore of Maui is a stunning snorkeling destination known for its crystal-clear waters and lush coral reefs. The bay is protected by rocky cliffs, making it ideal for calm snorkeling conditions.

Besides being a popular surfing spot, Honolua Bay is home to a diverse array of marine life, including sea turtles and parrotfish. During the winter months, keep an eye out for humpback whales as they migrate to the Hawaiian Islands to breed and give birth.

Napili Bay

dronepicr, CC BY 2.0

Perfect for families and snorkelers of all levels, Napili Bay offers a breathtaking beach with golden sand and calm waters. The bay’s unique horseshoe shape provides a natural protection against strong currents, making it a safe and enjoyable snorkeling spot.

As you glide through the sparkling waters of Napili Bay, expect to encounter colorful coral reefs teeming with various marine species. You may even spot Hawaiian green sea turtles gracefully swimming alongside you, providing unforgettable memories of your snorkeling adventure.

Black Rock Beach

Located on Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui, Black Rock Beach is an iconic snorkeling spot that offers easy access to a vibrant underwater world. The area’s extensive coral reef and interesting lava rock formations attract a variety of marine life.

Black Rock Beach is an excellent place to observe sea turtles, colorful tropical fish, and even the occasional reef shark. As you snorkel in the warm waters, take in the stunning surroundings, and marvel at the richness of Maui’s underwater ecosystem.

The Best Snorkeling Sites in Kauai

Tunnels Beach (Makua Beach)

tunnels beach
Garden State Hiker CC BY 2.0

On Kauai’s North Shore, Tunnels Beach is a world-renowned snorkeling spot thanks to its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. As you submerge into the water, you’ll find yourself surrounded by stunning coral reef formations teeming with colorful fish, sea turtles, and eels.

The calm, reef-protected lagoon at Tunnels Beach allows beginner and expert snorkelers alike to enjoy the wonders of the ocean without worrying about strong currents. Make sure to explore the outer reef while at Tunnels Beach, as this is where you’ll find an abundance of marine life.

Poipu Beach Park

Poipu Beach Park kauai

Poipu Beach Park, located on the South Shore, is a popular spot for both locals and visitors. In its clear blue waters, you can see schools of fish swimming amidst the coral formations, while green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals can often be observed basking on the sandy beach.

Since Poipu Beach Park is sheltered from large waves, it provides excellent conditions for snorkelers of all skill levels. Moreover, the park offers a range of amenities, such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables, enhancing your beach experience.

Ke’e Beach

Ke'e Beach Kauai
J Doll, CC BY-SA 3.0

Situated at the end of the road along the Na Pali Coast, Ke’e Beach is an exquisite destination for snorkeling. The lush scenery and clear waters make it a perfect location for your underwater adventure.

Ke’e Beach is surrounded by a shallow reef, which becomes deeper towards the shoreline, providing a thrilling snorkeling experience.

At Ke’e Beach, you’ll have the chance to spot native marine life, such as butterflyfish, parrotfish, and sea turtles swimming gracefully among the coral reefs.

However, it’s important to note that this spot is best explored during the summer months when the ocean is calm and better-suited for snorkeling.

Lawa’i Beach

Lawa’i Beach, on the sunny South Shore, is another picturesque spot for snorkeling in Kauai. This small but beautiful beach boasts an abundance of coral formations surrounded by a diverse range of marine life, including angelfish, moray eels, and the occasional sea turtle.

The beach offers a relatively calm environment, making it an ideal choice for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike. However, as with other Kauai snorkeling spots, the best time to enjoy Lawa’i Beach is during the summer months when the ocean conditions are favorable.

The Best Snorkeling Sites on The Big Island

Kealakekua Bay

Nnachappa64, CC BY-SA 4.0

This beautiful marine sanctuary is located on the Kona coast of the Big Island. It’s home to the famous Captain Cook Monument, and the waters surrounding it offer some of the most pristine snorkeling opportunities.

As you glide through the crystal-clear waters, you’ll encounter vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish, Hawaiian spinner dolphins, and the occasional humpback whale.

Kealakekua Bay is also an excellent spot for encountering sea turtles. These graceful creatures are a delight to observe and are often seen close to the shoreline – just remember to keep a respectful distance so as not to disturb their tranquil environment.

Honaunau Bay (Two Step)

Another stunning snorkeling site on the Big Island is Honaunau Bay, otherwise known as Two Step Beach.

Accessible via an unmarked lava path, this hidden gem is perfect for snorkelers seeking a more tranquil experience away from the crowds.

As you explore the vivid reef at Two Step Beach, you’ll be greeted by an abundance of marine life, from playful fish to majestic sea turtles.

Visit the shallow waters near the northern side of the bay, you’ll be rewarded with a thriving reef ecosystem hosting an array of marine life.

Heading deeper toward the south, you might encounter graceful rays and even small reef sharks, providing a more exhilarating experience.

The relative seclusion of this spot ensures that you can truly appreciate the beauty of the underwater landscape, uninterrupted by the hustle and bustle of busier sites.

Kahalu’u Beach Park

Kahalu'u Beach Park
Ron Cogswell CC BY 2.0

Perfect for beginners, Kahalu’u Beach Park offers calm, sheltered waters in a picturesque setting.

With easy access from the shoreline, the reef within this park is home to countless fish species, sea turtles, and eels. You’ll appreciate the clear waters that make spotting marine life a breeze, while the gentle waves provide a relaxing snorkeling experience.

The park also offers amenities like shade, picnic tables, and showers, making it perfect for a full day of fun for the whole family.

The Best Snorkeling Sites in Lanai

Hulopoe Bay

Hulopoe Bay Lanai
Steve Jurvetson (jurvetson on Flickr), CC BY 2.0

One of the best snorkeling spots on the island is Hulopoe Bay. Located on the south shore, it is known for its calm waters and vibrant marine life.

As a protected marine reserve, this pristine site offers you an amazing underwater experience just a few steps away from the white sandy beach. The sheltered bay provides a safe environment for beginners to hone their snorkeling skills.

The diverse marine life in Hulopoe Bay will captivate you. Watch as playful spinner dolphins frolic in the waters, and get up close with tropical fish and colorful sea creatures.

If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of Hawaiian green sea turtles and other majestic underwater creatures. The striking coral formations surrounded by schools of fish make it a snorkeler’s paradise.

Manele Bay

Manele Bay
Kirk K CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another fantastic snorkeling destination is Manele Bay. Accessible and ideal for independent exploration, it is perfect if you are short on time but don’t want to miss out on an unforgettable snorkeling experience.

The bay’s shallow waters provide a comfortable environment for snorkeling, so you can explore at your own pace, soaking in the breathtaking scenery and abundant marine life.

Manele Bay is teeming with colorful and unique sea creatures. Be prepared to encounter a variety of fish, including the stunning Hawaiian angelfish and the vibrant parrotfish, as they swim gracefully around the coral reefs.

The surrounding waters provide a habitat for fascinating marine life, turning your snorkeling adventure into an underwater safari.

Shark Fin Cove (Kaunolu Bay)

Located off the southeastern coast of Lanai and named after its unique rock formation that resembles a shark fin, this cove offers advanced snorkelers an exhilarating experience.

As you snorkel in Shark Fin Cove, keep an eye out for diverse marine life such as reef sharks, butterflyfish, and moray eels.

The cove’s rich underwater ecosystem and dramatic rock formations make it an unforgettable snorkeling destination. The clear water provides excellent visibility, allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty and serenity of this underwater world.

The Best Snorkeling Sites in Molokai

Papohaku Beach

Patrick_McNally, CC BY 3.0

Imagine sinking your toes into the warm sands of Papohaku Beach, a serene, palm-tree lined stretch on Molokai’s west end. With its crystal-clear waters and gentle waves, you’ll find snorkeling here both relaxing and mesmerizing.

Known for its expansive, uncrowded shoreline, you can have a tranquil snorkeling experience while admiring the underwater beauty of Molokai’s coral-rich ecosystem.

While snorkeling at Papohaku Beach, you’ll encounter an array of colorful reef fish and, if you’re lucky, a green sea turtle leisurely swimming alongside you. Soak in the enchanting landscape and the feeling of being one with the ocean at this secluded paradise.

Dixie Maru Beach (Kapukahehu)

Your next snorkeling adventure awaits at Dixie Maru Beach, also located on Molokai’s west end. This small cove, protected by its surrounding lava rock formations, offers calm waters ideal for snorkeling.

Imagine navigating through the turquoise waters, feeling the soft sand below your feet, and exploring the vibrant coral reef teeming with life.

As you submerge yourself in the world beneath the surface, you’ll be greeted by a variety of marine life, including butterflyfish, tangs, green sea turtles, and even the occasional Hawaiian monk seal if you’re fortunate.

It’s no wonder that Dixie Maru Beach is a cherished snorkeling spot for both visitors and Hawaii residents alike.

Halawa Bay

Rose_Braverman, CC BY 3.0

Let the pristine waters of Halawa Bay on Molokai’s east end invite you to experience its underwater wonders.

This enchanting beach, framed by lush green mountains and cascading waterfalls, serves as the perfect backdrop for exploring the magical underwater world just off its shoreline.

Once you venture into the bay’s calm waters, be prepared to uncover the hidden treasures beneath the surface.

The bay’s coral reef is home to an array of marine life, such as angelfish, wrasses, and the awe-inspiring manta rays. With its incredible scenery both above and below the water, Halawa Bay offers an unforgettable snorkeling experience that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.