Snorkeling is one of the most intriguing experiences on Kauai. Not only is it free, and easy, it is an unforgettable experience. It is hard to imagine that an entire world exists within our oceans. Families of fish and coral exist in a fascinating unexplored world. You don’t have to be an expert swimmer to snorkel. With almost no instruction even beginners can snorkel on Kauai. You just float on the water peering down at life below. As groups of colorful fish swim past you, be still and watch below you. Suddenly what appeared to be rocks and sticks come to life as underwater living forms. North shore Kauai is home to the Anini Reef the largest reef in the Hawaiian Island Chain. This coral reef is home to hundreds of species of fish, one third of which are found no place else on earth. Kauai thus has some of the best snorkeling spots.
Most of the Anini Reef is shallow. There are many canyons and exciting areas to explore. Anini is suitable for beginners but always watch for tides and swells. Check surf conditions on the radio. It is best to snorkel during the incoming tide, which occurs immediately following a low tide. Tunnels is located beyond Haena. It is named for the great number of paths that intersect this wide reef. This variation in terrain formed by both lava flow and reef formation create a place for easy yet exciting exploration of a wide variety of reef life.
Ke’e Beach, located at the end of the road on Kauai’s north shore offers great snorkeling during summer months when the waves are calm. It is a beautiful jungle drive to the edge of the towering Na Pali Coast. Here azure waters sparkle and bright colorful tropical fish await. Pacific green turtles often congregate in the lagoon just beyond the inshore reef. This is the spot to begin the famous trek up the Kalalau or Na Pali Trail to the first lookout, about one-mile. Most hikers try to continue past the first waterfall down to the first secluded beach. In all, this area is an unforgettable adventure worthy of at least one or two days.
- Swells can occur without a storm. Surf reports are hourly on local radio and TV stations. Pay attention.
- Always snorkel in areas where other swimmers or snorkelers are present.
- Do not snorkel near surfers or body surfers.
- Do not snorkel if water is unclear, rough or choppy.
- Look out of the water frequently to see where you are. It is easy to drift away from your location.
- The best snorkeling is in calm waters, usually mornings.
- Although you can purchase fish food, do not feed the fish items that will make them sick. A good idea is to put a leaf or other shiny item in a zip lock bag and fill it with enough water so it can drift with you. Fish are very curious.
- Help protect the reef. Do not stand on the reef. Paddle to a spot away from the reef with a sandy bottom to stand.
- Both Pacific Green Turtles and Monk Seals are protected species. Watch them but do not attempt to get too close or touch them. Monk Seals may come up on the beach to rest. This is natural.
- Keep your distance.