Underwater World of Hawaii
Whether you’re a seasoned scuba diver or a beginning snorkeller, 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 snorkelling 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 places for snorkelling. 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 snorkellers 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 snorkelling destination. Accessible and family-friendly, the bay’s clear waters are rich with reefs and colourful 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 on Tuesdays.
Molokini is a small, crescent-shaped island off the South Maui coast. The waters here offer colourful reefs perfect for snorkelling and diving. In fact, the waters here are so rich with life that 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 snorkelling can be found near the bay’s beautiful tidal 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 tidal 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 snorkelling 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 snorkelling during the summer months and can be less crowded than Kee.