Kauai Pictures - Sailing & Snorkeling
Kauai Pictures - Sailing & Snorkeling - The best snorkeling spots on Kauai are inside protective reefs. Kauai, being geologically older than the other Hawaiian Islands, has had more time for these reefs to form. The choice of destination is determined by a variety of factors including the tide, surf, wind and restrictions.
Trade winds create choppy conditions on the east side. Primary destination for snorkeling during winter months is on the south shore. In summer, swells tend to originate south of Kauai, often creating better conditions on the north shore. Spring and fall are transitional periods when there can either be a combination of north and south swells, or ideally, calm waters on all shores.
Given that you’re snorkeling inside a reef, the best time to snorkel is at low tide. The water coming over the reef with each wave must find an escape route. There is always some current at the good snorkel spots. At low tide, less water comes over the reef, giving the water a chance to settle and clear up.
Snorkeling is easy and most people learn to relax and enjoy the experience quickly. Hawaiian waters have a high percentage of endemic species. Many species found here are found nowhere else.
Snorkeling at Kauai’s South Shore
One of the best snorkel beaches is Lawai Beach by the Beach House Restaurant. The reef is 50 yards or so from shore and the water inside the reef is about 8 to 10 feet deep. There is a great variety of species here including, butterfly fishes, tangs and surgeon fishes, wrasses and puffers.
Another snorkeling spot is in front of Prince Kuhio Park. It is a little deeper but the coral formations are more developed and Pacific green sea turtles are common in this area.
Snorkeling at Kauai’s North Shore
Makua, or tunnels as it is known, is a gorgeous beach with Bali Hai as a backdrop. The inner reef is volcanic and has a large shallow area that leads out to a drop off. In places the depth changes from 3 feet to 60 feet, straight down. There are lava tubes and underwater caves, which create habitat for a variety of marine life. There are only a few places where you can head for shore without getting into very shallow water so we return to our entry point to exit.