Underwater World of Hawaii
Whether you’re a seasoned scuba diver or a beginning snorkeler, Hawaii offers a whole other world to explore under the sea.
Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii’s Big Island
Located 40 minutes south of Kailua-Kona in Kona, this historic bay is a remarkable place for snorkeling and scuba diving. Shielded by cliffs, the waters here are calm and rich with marine life. Within the bay you can also kayak or take a boat ride to the seaside memorial of Captain James Cook where you’ll find more snorkeling. Captain Cook was the British explorer who discovered the Hawaiian Islands in 1778.
South Kona is shielded by the mountainous Maunaloa, making the waters on the southwest side of Hawaii’s Big Island calm and clear. A perfect example of this is at beautiful Honaunau Bay, also called Two-steps. “Two-steps” refers to a spot on the shoreline where the volcanic rock has been neatly worn away into a convenient “two-step” entry point for snorkelers and divers. Abundant fish and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) can be seen in Honaunau’s warm waters.
Honaunau Bay is also located nearby Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park. Once a place of refuge for Hawaiian lawbreakers, this expansive historic park offers an intimate glimpse into Hawaiian culture.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Hanauma Bay is located on Oahu’s southeastern tip and is the island’s most popular snorkeling destination. Accessible and family-friendly, the bay’s clear waters are rich with reefs and colorful fish. Because this is Hawaii’s first Marine Life Conservation District, it is very important for visitors to help preserve the bay’s fragile ecosystem by reducing their impact on the environment. The park is closed Tuesdays.
Molokini is a small, crescent shaped island off the South Maui coast. The waters here offer colorful reefs perfect for snorkeling and diving. In fact, the waters here are so rich with life, Molokini was named a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District. Molokini is only accessible by boat tour. Tours are available from nearby Maalaea Harbor, Kihei, and Lahaina.
Hulopoe Bay, Lanai
Located on Lanai’s southern coast, Hulopoe Bay’s idyllic golden sands leave a lasting impression. Spend a day at this secluded beach and you’ll see why it was once named America’s best beach. Excellent snorkeling can be found near the bay’s beautiful tide pools. Hike just a bit further east and you’ll discover Lanai’s iconic Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock.
This tranquil beach is part of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, but Hulopoe Beach Park is open to the public. In fact you’ll also find picnic benches towards the tide pools where locals often enjoy the beauty of the bay as well.
Kee Beach, Kauai
Located at the end of the road on North Kauai, this popular and scenic beach features a protected lagoon ideal for snorkeling in the calmer summer months (winter brings rough and dangerous conditions). Offshore reefs also provide a great setting for advanced scuba divers.
The popular Kalalau hiking trail leading to the Napali Coast also begins at the western end of the beach. Nearby to the east, Makua beach, also known as Tunnels Beach, also provides exceptional snorkeling during the summer months and can be less crowded than Kee.