Where to go snorkelling in Kauai

by Mihai Pinzariu on September 25, 2019

Kauai is the least developed of all the Hawaiian Islands, making for lush untouched scenery, pristine secluded beaches, and lots of snorkelling amongst diverse sea life. If you’re after untouched beauty and less crowds, here are the best spots to snorkel in Kauai.

Fish in Kauai:

  • Boxfish, Butterflyfish, Chromis, Chub, Cornetfish, Damselfish, Emperor Fish, Filefish, Goatfish, Groupers, Hawkfish, Parrotfish, Sergeant Fish, Snappers, Tangs, Triggerfish, Unicornfish, Wrasse, and tonnes more!

Corals in Kauai:

  • Antler, Blue Rice, Branching Rice, Cauliflower, Finger, Lobe, Porkchop, Sandpaper Rice, Thick Finger, and more.

Ke’e Beach

Where: North Shore
Details: This beach sits at the start of the Kalalau trail and has a beautiful barrier reef that’s brimming with sea life, from turtles to sharks and papillons. Kids can play in the shallow waters of the lagoon, and you can also snorkel to the outer reefs and enjoy the show of sea and coral life along the way.


  • Beware that the beach here can be rough at times, in which case you can take your snorkelling over to the lagoon.


  • Toilets and showers on-site, but no lifeguard or food facilities.

Nu’alolo Kai

Where: Na Pali Coast
Details: If you’re looking for a private snorkel with nature, this is it. It’ll be just you, crystal clear waters, and lots and lots of fish and corals to explore. The reef is huge and there’s plenty to look at here, so give yourself lots of time to hang out. There’s also a nearby archaeological site and you can even find petroglyphs in the area.


  • This beach is private for a reason – it’s not easily accessible. You have to rent a kayak or boat to get here but it’ll be well worth it when you’re surrounded by the cliffs and the ocean.
  • As it’s a secluded snorkeling site, there are no facilities available.

Tunnels Beach

Where: Makua
Details: Kauai’s standout star, this famous spot is also known as Makua Beach and offers some of the best snorkelling in Kauai. The reef here is so expansive and filled with colourful coral life and schools of boxfish, damselfish, groupers, unicorn-fish, wrasse, and more. There are two places you can snorkel from, one goes along the shore and is better for beginners. Here you’ll find parrotfish, hawkfish, and maybe even Hawaiian Monk Seals. The other reef is a horseshoe and a bit further from shore, better for intermediate swimmers with all the same scenery.


  • The current here can be strong, so don’t swim outside the reefs. Water can also range from 1 – 12 metres so always be aware!


  • Parking is available, but no lifeguard, bathrooms, or food facilities.

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