One of our favorite things to do is snorkel. Snorkeling is budget friendly, we always see amazing things, and it’s good exercise. On our Kauai 5-0 adventure, we found several snorkel spots that were accessible from the beach. All had free (but limited) parking. Here are four snorkel spots that can be enjoyed by beginning and advanced snorkelers alike!
1. Pu’u Poa Beach. From our condo at Hanalei Bay Resort, we could walk right down to the beach and snorkel. It’s one of the reasons we chose to stay at HBR. Close in it was a bit murky with sand, but there’s a channel you can follow, and out just a little ways there’s a healthy reef where we saw lots of turtles. Jeff talked with a guide taking a group out there, and she said she almost always sees five or more turtles there. This beach is shared with the St. Regis Hotel and has lots of sand and plenty of places to find shade.
The beach is open to the public via a set of 200 stairs and public parking is available. The St. Regis beach bar is also open to the public. Their beach chairs, however, are not.
2. Tunnels Beach. Recommended to us by a friend who’s also an avid snorkeler, the snorkeling here was fantastic. There are lots of crazy rock formations underwater and a pretty good variety of fish, including lots of big fish. And the lush, green mountains jutting out of the bright blue sea were just spectacular.
Parking is extremely limited at Tunnels (get there early!), so we had to park at Haena Beach, the next beach over. It was just a short walk on the sand to get to Tunnels — definitely worth it.
Not to mention, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice pronouncing humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the name of Hawaii’s state fish that’s plentiful in the waters of Tunnels Beach!
3. Haena Beach. On the walk back to our car from Tunnels, we jumped in for a quick snorkel at Haena beach (where we parked) and saw a HUGE sea turtle. Sea turtles are protected, so you never want to touch one, but Erin ended up nearly nose to nose with him when he popped out from behind some coral. We also saw a rare — and large — Hawaiian monk seal haul up on the beach when we were drying off in the sun! Thankfully we didn’t come nose to nose with that guy!
4. Lydgate Park. The last place we snorkeled in Kauai, it was a bit like being in a giant bathtub compared to the other places we’d visited. The weather was really rainy up north, so we headed south to look for sunshine. Lydgate Park is a beautiful municipal park that has a man-made, breakwater-protected snorkeling area. The snorkeling area is actually called Morgan’s Ponds after Mr. Morgan who saw a similar idea while overseas and brought it home to Kauai. The breakwater means the “ponds” are quite calm when everything else around is rough. It was a perfect spot for that day’s rough seas.
This is also a great spot for beginners to practice and for families with small children. There are lots of fish although no coral. The park also has a great play structure, a nice walking path, historical sites, a really cool wooden bridge, and lifeguards! Definitely a great place for the family to spend the day, but do note that not all of the water is safe for swimming due to undertows. Check with the lifeguards before entering.
There are oodles of places to snorkel in Kauai, and we visited just four, but all were really good ones that we’d recommend. If you have favorite Kauai snorkel spots, please leave them in the comments so that other readers can add them to their list!
Enjoy your next snorkel adventure, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!
P.S. Ladies – if you like to snorkel but don’t like to have to lather up with half a tube of sunscreen, I recommend these great capri swim leggings (skirt attached) and long sleeve rash guard from Lands’ End (lots of styles and patterns in the tops). They are both recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as an effective UV protectant. So fabulous! I never got burned while snorkeling in them.