Put On Your Snorkel GearKaua‘i
Kaua‘i’s warm, crystalline water, its thriving reef system and its mostly sunny skies make it a natural for snorkeling. Because the GARDEN ISLE is the oldest of the inhabited islands, nature has had millions of years to develop its reefs and the hundreds of species of fish—some found nowhere else in the world—that populate them.
SNORKELING is a great way to stick your head in the water without the inconvenience of holding your breath. You wear a mask and fins and breathe through a tube. People of all ages can participate, and there are plenty of good spots—many of them just offshore—to practice your moves.
The longest reef on the island is off ANINI BEACH on Kaua‘i’s North Shore. Here, the near-shore water is generally shallow and, at reef’s edge, underwater canyons provide ample opportunity to explore. To get to this beach, take Highway 56 past KILAUEA. Take a right on Kalihiwai Road (just past the bridge), and then a left on Anini Road.
PO‘IPU BEACH PARK, on the south shore, LYDGATE PARK, near Kapa‘a, are other good snorkeling picks.
No matter where you are, the best snorkeling is in calm, clear water. Stay out if conditions are rough or choppy. Keep your distance from sea turtles and monk seals, and stick close to other snorkelers and swimmers. Also, don’t walk on the reefs— they are delicate ecosystems that are easily damaged but very slow to recover.
Gear can be rented or purchased. In either case, you’ll need a mask, a snorkel and some fins. Gear comes in many sizes and shapes. Most boat cruises also offer snorkeling as part of the tour package. These tours will take you to beautiful, out-of-the-way locations that are difficult to access on your own.
Be sure to check beach conditions at hawaiibeachsafety.com before you head out.
1. Never snorkel alone. Hang with a buddy.
2. Never turn your back to the ocean. No matter how calm the ocean looks, it is always unpredictable.
3. Whenever possible, snorkel in the morning. Fish are significantly more active in the morning, and predictable afternoon winds make water clarity less than ideal.
4. Marine life tends to congregate around structures, so stick to reefs for the best opportunity to come face to face with underwater creatures.
5. Don’t feed the fish.
6. Even on the cloudiest of days, use waterproof sunscreen.
7. Take a small cooler with bottled water, snacks and food. Most beaches don’t have concession stands.
8. Stay relaxed, float and kick only when necessary. The more relaxed you are in the water, the more relaxed and friendly the fish will be.
9. Be respectful of the ocean. Avoid standing on coral, which is the foundation of Hawai‘i’s reef environment. All sea creatures rely on the reef for homes, protection and food.