Hoping to do some snorkeling on Kauai? Here are the 9 best places for Kauai snorkeling you’ll want to add to your Kauai itinerary, keep scrolling down for all the info!
This best snorkeling on Kauai post was originally published September 21, 2019 and was updated November 7, 2021 and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Finding the spots for snorkeling in Hawaii can mean lots of research! But we spend a lot of time on Kauai and I feel confident giving you my picks for the best snorkeling beaches in Kauai.
Keep scrolling to find out the best Kauai beaches for beginner and advanced snorkelers. And see where to go snorkeling on Kauai with kids. If you’re looking for Kauai snorkeling tours, click HERE.
Here are 9 of the best Kauai snorkeling spots that you will find.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Kauai.
Popular Kauai Tours/Activities
- Na Pali Coast Snorkeling Tour (this one also goes to the forbidden island of Ni’ihau)
- Kauai Helicopter Tour (this is the BEST way to see waterfalls on Kauai)
- ATV Tour to a Private Waterfall (this is a romantic adventure that feels like a secret getaway)
- Mountain Tubing (this is a low-key adventure down an old sugar cane canal)
- Luau Kalamaku (you can do a little train ride and feed farm animals before the luau)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
Favorite Kauai Resorts/Hotels
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Kauai Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
Kauai Hawaii Snorkeling FAQs
While you can snorkel on every side of Kauai, most visitors prefer snorkeling on the South Shore (mainly in Poipu.) The water is usually calmer and it’s a great opportunity to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.
I think so! Kauai has 50 miles of beaches, so there are tons of spots for snorkelers at all levels. And many Kauai beaches are kid-friendly, so the whole family can snorkel together.
During the winter in Kauai, the ocean waves can get pretty rough, especially on the North Shore. So, I recommend snorkeling on the South Shore or West Shore from November through February.
Yes. It’s always good to check the news to see if there are any shark encounters at particular beaches before heading into the water.
The most important factor is the tide schedule. You’ll want to snorkel when it’s high tide and the sun is out, so you’ll have the best visibility. Many people like to snorkel in the late morning or early afternoon since that’s when the sun is at its highest. Other people prefer snorkeling in the early morning to see a variety of fish and sea life.
The Best Snorkeling Beaches in Kauai
1. Tunnels Beach
On the northern seashores of Kauai, lies Tunnels Beach (Makua Beach. It’s a horseshoe-shaped bay filled with huge coral formations.
Many people claim Tunnels Beach has the best snorkeling in Kauai.
Because of the size and power of the strong currents, this is considered an advanced snorkeling location.
If you’re snorkeling at the right time, you might see schools of colorful fish of all different species. There might even be a visit from Galapagos sharks!
Keep in mind that Tunnels Beach is a seasonal snorkeling beach. 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. I suggest planning to get to the beach early.
One last important note: make sure that you use the restroom and bring some food with you. There are no restaurants or restrooms anywhere nearby.
A great snorkeling beach for both beginners and advanced individuals alike is Poipu Beach Park.
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 2 beaches that are separated by a tombolo with a tiny island not too far out to sea.
This snorkeling spot doesn’t have as much sea life around as other snorkeling on Kauai. But you’ll 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 before going in.
Find out more fun things to do in Poipu
3. Nualolo Beach HEAD TO NUALOLO KAI BEACH FOR SNORKELING ON KAUAI
Head to Nualolo Kai Beach on the Na Pali Coast for some of the best snorkeling on Kauai. It’s located close to an ancient fishing village and is a unique snorkeling destination.
That’s because the only one way of getting there is 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, Nualolo Kai Beach very well might be one of the most beautiful places on earth!
4. Pali Ke Kua Beach
Locally, Pali Ke Kua Beach is called Hideaway Beach. Perhaps because it’s easier to say, or it might be because of 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 snorkeling beach, you’ll have to be willing to go for a bit of a hike! You even 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
While Hanalei Bay isn’t the most ideal location for the best snorkeling on Kauai, it’s still worth a mention.
Because of the sandy bottom and lack of reefs along the ocean floor, many locals would tell you to snorkel elsewhere.
But I’ll tell you a secret: the best location for snorkeling in the area can be found along the western edge of the bay.
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.
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
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. It’s ideal for spotting different colorful species of fish, seals, and sea turtles.
8. Ke’e Beach
For some of the best snorkeling on Kauai, check out Ke’e Beach on North Shore.
This beach is in a very secluded area with long scenic drive to get there. But it still brings in huge crowds!
It’s actually the perfect snorkeling spot for beginners and less-experienced snorkelers. That’s because of the calm currents from nearby protective reef formations.
Always be attentive to where the reef is so that you don’t get taken too far out to sea.
At the right times, you may notice tropical sea life, including green sea turtles, parrotfish, raccoon butterflyfish, and more.
9. Lydgate Beach Park
Everyone in the family can enjoy snorkeling at Lydgate Beach Park.
This beach has 2 naturally formed pools that are perfect for even the youngest swimmers. Because of this, it’s one of the best beaches in Kauai for swimming.
While the pools don’t offer very exciting snorkeling on Kauai, they have openings where fish come in and out. It’s a great spot for inexperienced snorkelers to practice.
For the more expert snorkelers, you can swim in the ocean beyond the pools. But there isn’t a whole lot here either, so it’s not actually considered one of the best snorkeling in Kauai.
Snorkeling on Kauai Wrap Up
I’ve shared 9 quality spots for the best snorkeling on Kauai. If you prefer going with a guide, I also have a list of awesome Kauai snorkeling tours worth booking.
If you’re planning a visit soon, where will you head to get your Kauai snorkeling fix?