Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai

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.

A trip to Kauai, one of Hawaii’s islands offers some of the best beaches and snorkeling destinations in the world! If you’re interested in snorkeling on Kauai, keep reading.

Kauai is one of our favorite Hawaiian Islands. That’s because there are so many amazing things to do, places to eat, and gorgeous sights.

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.

With this good news, the only thing you need to worry about is where you’re headed. Oahu and Maui have some pretty nice places to snorkel, but I think Kauai has them beat.

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

Favorite Kauai Resorts/Hotels

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai (this Poipu resort has a luxurious pool area, romantic restaurants, and a stunning ocean view)
  • Koloa Landing Resort (this is a luxury resort with an amazing pool area and truly spacious rooms)
  • Royal Sonesta Kauai (we LOVE the pool here because it’s the largest one in Hawaii)

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.

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Kauai Hawaii Snorkeling FAQs

What side of Kauai is best for snorkeling?

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.

Does Kauai have good snorkeling?

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.

Where can you snorkel during the winter in Kauai?

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.

Which Hawaiian Island is best for snorkeling?

You can some pretty epic Hawaii snorkeling spots on each of the islands! I have a full guide on Maui snorkeling and Oahu snorkeling if you want to take a look and see for yourself.

Are there sharks in Kauai?

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.

What time of day is best for snorkeling in Kauai?

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.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Tunnels Beach is one of the best places to snorkel on Kauai | snorkeling Kauai
Tunnels Beach on the Island of Kauai.

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.

2. Poipu

A great snorkeling beach for both beginners and advanced individuals alike is Poipu Beach Park.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Poipu Beach is a great place to see sea turtles and monk seals, plus it's a popular snorkeling on Kauai spot | poipu beach snorkeling
Monk seal resting on Poipu Beach.

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.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: The Na Pali Coast has lots of amazing Kauai snorkeling.
View on Na Pali Coast on Kauai.

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.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Hideway Beach is a top Kauai snorkeling beach
Hideaway Beach on Kauai.

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.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Hanalei Bay is a popular North Shore Kauai snorkeling beach
Hanalei Bay on Kauai.

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.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Queen's Bath is a dangerous snorkeling Kauai spot in Princeville
Snorkeling swimmer in Queens Bath near Princeville, Kauai.

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

Lawai Beach is sometimes referred to as the Beach House Beach because of the Beach House Restaurant.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: You can see monk seals on Lawai Beach on Kauai.
Monk Seal on 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!

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Kee Beach is a popular snorkeling Kauai beach at the end of the road on Kauai
Kee Beach on Kauai, Hawaii.

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.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Lydgate Beach Park is a great Kauai snorkeling spot for families.
Lydgate Beach Park. Photo credit: Ron Cogswell

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?

3 thoughts on “Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai”

  1. Great suggestions! My favorites are Ke’e Beach in the summer (requires reservations for visitors) or Poipu Beach in the winter. A bonus at Poipu is that you can often see a monk seal or a sea turtle on the beach! The reason those two are my favorites is that both have lifeguards 9am-5pm. I’m not a strong swimmer, so I prefer to snorkel at lifeguarded beaches, but there are some really cool “off the beaten path” spots I like, but I’d only go if partnering with a strong swimmer.

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