If you love snorkeling or would like to try it for the first time, Hawaii should be your first choice as a vacation destination. Snorkeling is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Hawaii and one of the best ways to explore Hawaii’s underwater wonders. The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by warm, crystal clear waters filled with coral reefs, brilliantly colored fish, sea turtles, dolphins and more of Hawaii’s undersea life.
Maui, Oahu and the Big Island are the best islands for snorkeling in Hawaii, although snorkeling is excellent on all of the eight Hawaiian Islands.
Maui is the most popular Hawaiian island to go to for snorkeling. The “Valley Isle” offers 81 accessible beaches and more miles of swimmable beach than any other island in Hawaii. The climate is fairly mild with a year-round average temperature of 75-85° F. The best Maui snorkeling beaches are Honolua Bay, Kapalua Bay, Turtle Town Maui & Maluaka Beach, Kaanapali Beach, Ahihi Kinau Reserve and Molokini, all located on the south and west facing shores. These shores are protected from the trade winds by the Maui Mountains, so the water stays calm and clear.
Oahu is the ideal place to go snorkeling because the island offers both scenic beauty and metropolitan conveniences. Oahu’s coastline extends 112 miles and boasts the most popular snorkeling destination in the state, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Located on the southeast coast of the island, the bay created from a volcanic crater, is sheltered from the trade winds so the waters are very warm, calm and clear. Hanauma Bay is known for its high fish population, so even in waist deep water, dozens of species can be seen. Other amazing snorkeling beaches in Oahu are Kuilima Cove, Kahe Point Beach Park, Sharks Cove, and Kaena Point State Park.
The Big Island is known for its raw coastline, being the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands. The Big Island comprises of 62.7% of Hawaii’s land area and 266 miles of coastline, yet has less than 15% of the state’s total population; so if you are looking to snorkel away from the crowds, The Big Island is the place to go. The island offers extensive lava flats and deep underwater crevices, not to mention pristine coral reefs. The best places for snorkeling in the Big Island are Mauna Kea Beach, Kaunaoa Bay; The City of Refuge, Puuhonua O Honaunau; and Kahaluu Beach Park.
The beautiful Hawaiian waters offer great diversity and experiences for snorkeling in Hawaii. If you don’t have your own snorkeling gear, don’t worry, you can always rent or buy your mask, snorkel, and fins when you get to your snorkeling destination.