Kauai Snorkeling

The Hawaiian island of Kauai is home to some of the oldest and most highly guarded reef ecosystems in the entire island chain. Hundreds of varieties of fish and other marine life reside in these delicate underwater environments, a third of which are found only in these waters. These facts alone make snorkeling in Kauai one of the best things to do on a Kauai vacation.

The remoteness of Kauai's northern Na Pali Coast makes it the most ideal Kauai snorkeling area. The breathtaking coastline is the prime destination on Kauai vacations, creating a flurry of activity in the region through specialized coastal tours. The Na Pali Coast cannot be reached by rental car, making the journey to the area as adventurous as the destination. Kauai snorkel tours on the North Shore are extremely popular. The remote area is awash with thousands of schools of vibrant tropical fish, ancient green sea turtles, also known as Honu, and coral reefs loaded with colorful sea life illuminating the ocean's beauty.

The number of Kauai snorkel tours available is mind-boggling as are the number of tour operators. However, you don't have to take a tour to enjoy some of the best snorkeling in Kauai. If you don't bring your own snorkel gear, the necessary equipment easily can be rented all over the island. Note that when and where you choose to go snorkeling can make a big difference in your underwater experience. The benefit of choosing snorkeling tours in Kauai, as apposed to going it alone, is that tour companies are familiar with the best locations and the best conditions for visibility.

The length of Kauai snorkel tours ranges from a few hours to half and full days. Some of these Kauai snorkeling tours include tours of the coastline and also stop at other attractions such as the North Shore caves and Niihau—also known as the Forbidden Island—to broaden your island experience. When snorkeling in Kauai along the North Shore, there are three prime areas to check out. Tunnels Beach is an excellent spot for snorkeling. Its name refers to the labyrinth of pathways that connect the wide beach perimeter. The reef here is shallow and laced with narrow, sunken canyons. The varied terrain underwater hosts a rich, diverse environment attracting multiple marine species.

More popular stops during snorkeling tours on Kauai in the north are at Anini Beach and Kee Beach. Anini is home to the largest of all reefs in Kauai and also to underwater canyons with thriving sea life. When the tide is coming in, this is a perfect spot for first-time snorkelers. Kee Beach is located at the end of the road along the North Shore and is also ideal for snorkeling in Kauai. If you're heading there to snorkel, you'll be treated to magnificent views of the Na Pali cliffs and the sparkling cerulean waters of this lagoon. Kee is home to the well-loved Pacific green sea turtles, a large number of tropical fish, and a striking lagoon past the in-shore reef. Lydgate Park is one of the top choices for snorkeling on the east side, and famous Poipu Beach Park is one of the best spots on the south shore.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a Kauai snorkeling tour. Be sure to take your time and choose one that's right for you and your family. Prices, locations, available time slots, and group sizes can all be factors when choosing the right tour. For more adventurous travelers, a self-guided snorkeling tour has many advantages, but you can be easily disappointed if you don't check the water conditions in advance. No matter how you plan on enjoying Kauai's incredible watery world, you will undoubtedly see one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the world and be fully immersed in one of the most alluring natural environments in the world.

Top image: HTA / Kirk Lee Aeder

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