10 Best Snorkeling Places in Hawaii

by CaliCase Team on April 01, 2022

Ready to dive into the sparkling blue waters of Hawaii and explore the breathtaking world below? Whether you're a seasoned snorkeling pro or just starting out, Hawaii's stunning archipelago has something for everyone. From the crystal-clear waters of O'ahu's Hanauma Bay, to the coral formations of Maui's Molokini Crater, to the abundant marine life of Hawai'i's Two Step, there are endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the vibrant underwater world. Discover hidden gems like Moloka'i's Kumimi Beach (Murphy's Beach) and Lāna'i's Hulopoe Bay, or explore popular destinations like Kauai's Tunnels Beach and Lanai's Manele Bay. With so much to see and explore, Hawaii's snorkeling spots are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of this island paradise. In fact, Hawaii is one of our 15 best snorkeling places in the world. You can also access to the part of the article about the popular attraction of night snorkeling with Manta Rays at Kona. So grab your snorkel gear and get ready to explore the top snorkeling spots in Hawaii!


Snorkeling at O'ahu's Hanauma Bay

O'ahu's Hanauma Bay

O'ahu's Hanauma Bay is a snorkeling destination unlike any other. This stunning bay boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters, teeming with marine life, making it a must-visit for any snorkeling enthusiast. The bay's unique horseshoe shape and shallow depth make it an ideal location for snorkeling, as it provides shelter from the ocean's waves and currents, creating a calm and serene environment for snorkelers. As you explore the bay's coral reefs, you'll encounter an abundance of colorful fish and sea creatures, such as parrotfish, butterflyfish, and even the occasional Hawaiian green sea turtle. Hanauma Bay's snorkeling experience is further enhanced by the educational visitor center, which provides information about the bay's marine life and conservation efforts.




  • Hanauma Bay is a protected marine conservation area, ensuring the preservation of its unique ecosystem
  • The bay is easily accessible to the public, with facilities and equipment available for rent
    Its calm waters and shallow depth make it an ideal spot for snorkeling beginners
  • The bay's abundance of marine life and colorful coral reefs provide a memorable snorkeling experience
  • The educational visitor center provides an opportunity to learn about the bay's marine life and conservation efforts


  • Due to its popularity, Hanauma Bay can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season
  • Snorkeling is only allowed during designated hours to minimize the impact on the marine life and allow for their natural feeding and resting patterns
  • There is a fee to enter the park, and visitors are required to watch an educational video about conservation efforts before entering


Snorkeling at Moloka'i - Kumimi Beach

Moloka'i - Kumimi Beach

Source: Hawaiian Island, things to do at Kumimi Beach

Moloka'i - Kumimi Beach, also known as Murphy's Beach, is a hidden gem among Hawaii's snorkeling destinations. Tucked away on the eastern side of the island, this quiet beach offers a serene atmosphere and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for snorkeling. The calm waters are home to an abundance of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even octopuses. The beach's coral reef system is also a sight to behold, with vibrant colors and interesting shapes that attract a diverse array of underwater creatures. Another perk of visiting Kumimi Beach is the lack of crowds, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and tranquility of the natural environment.




  • Clear waters with diverse marine life, including turtles and octopuses
  • Vibrant coral reef system with a variety of fish species
  • Quiet and peaceful atmosphere, away from crowds
  • Easy access from the shore
  • Good snorkeling conditions year-round


  • Limited facilities, including restrooms and showers
  • Limited food and drink options nearby
  • Can be difficult to find and navigate to for first-time visitors
  • Limited parking space


Snorkeling at Lāna'i's Hulopoe Bay

Hulopoe Bay

One of the unique features of Hulopoe Bay is the "blowhole" rock formation, where waves crash into a small opening in the rocks and shoot water up into the air. The bay is home to a diverse array of sea creatures, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even spinner dolphins. Snorkelers can also explore the rocky sea cliffs and underwater caves that line the bay's shore. Hulopoe Bay is accessible to the public and has facilities for visitors, including restrooms, picnic tables, and showers. With its calm waters and abundant marine life, it's no wonder that Hulopoe Bay is considered one of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii.




  • Clear, calm waters make for great snorkeling conditions
  • Diverse array of marine life to discover, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and spinner dolphins
  • Accessible to the public with facilities for visitors
  • Beautiful, scenic location with rocky sea cliffs and a unique blowhole formation


  • Depending on the time of year, Hulopoe Bay can be crowded with other snorkelers and visitors
  • Snorkeling conditions can vary depending on the weather and tide conditions, so it's important to check conditions before snorkeling
  • The bay is protected as a marine conservation area, so visitors must adhere to rules and guidelines to help preserve the natural environment.


Snorkeling at Maui's Honolua Bay

Maui's Honolua Bay

The bay is located on the northwest coast of the island and boasts crystal-clear waters with visibility that can reach up to 80 feet (24 meters). The coral reefs here are healthy and vibrant, and teeming with an array of colorful fish, including parrotfish, butterflyfish, and tangs. Additionally, Honolua Bay is part of the Mokule'ia Marine Life Conservation District, which means that the marine ecosystem is protected and thriving. Snorkelers can also expect to see sea turtles and occasionally spotted eagle rays. The bay is accessible from the shore, making it easy to snorkel without having to rent a boat. However, be aware that during the winter months, the waves can be quite large and make it difficult to enter and exit the water. Overall, Honolua Bay is a fantastic snorkeling destination that offers incredible underwater vistas, a healthy marine ecosystem, and easy accessibility from the shore. Learn more about snorkeling on Maui islannd with our 6 Best Spots To Snorkel on Maui.




  • Crystal-clear waters with excellent visibility
  • Healthy and vibrant coral reefs
  • Abundance of colorful fish, sea turtles, and occasionally spotted eagle rays
  • Part of a marine conservation district, protecting the marine ecosystem
  • Accessible from the shore, no need to rent a boat


  • Large waves during winter months can make entry and exit from the water difficult


Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii

Kealakekua Bay

This protected marine sanctuary boasts clear turquoise waters, abundant coral formations, and diverse marine life, including sea turtles, tropical fish, and even spinner dolphins. The bay's calm waters and gentle currents make it a perfect spot for snorkeling, whether you're a beginner or an experienced swimmer. One of the highlights of Kealakekua Bay is the opportunity to explore the Captain Cook Monument, a historic site that can only be accessed from the water. Snorkeling around the monument allows you to get up close to the coral formations and sea life that inhabit the area. Whether you're an avid snorkeler or just looking for a new adventure, Kealakekua Bay is a must-visit destination.


  • Clear waters and abundant marine life make for a great snorkeling experience
  • The Captain Cook Monument offers a unique historical perspective
  • The bay is easily accessible by boat or by hiking the nearby trail


  • The area can get crowded with snorkelers and tour boats during peak times


Snorkeling at Kauai's Tunnels Beach

Kauai's Tunnels

Kauai's Tunnels Beach is a snorkeling paradise with a stunning backdrop of lush green mountains and turquoise waters. Located on the north shore of the island, Tunnels Beach is known for its clear waters, abundant marine life, and coral formations that create a labyrinth of underwater tunnels and caverns for snorkelers to explore. Schools of brightly colored fish, sea turtles, and other marine creatures can be seen darting in and out of the coral reefs, providing an unforgettable underwater experience. The beach is also protected by a barrier reef, which helps to create calm waters that are perfect for snorkeling. While Tunnels Beach can be busy during peak tourist season, its beauty and unparalleled snorkeling opportunities make it a must-visit destination for any snorkeling enthusiast.


  • Clear waters, calm conditions, and abundant marine life make Tunnels Beach a great spot for snorkeling
  • The stunning backdrop of green mountains and turquoise waters makes for a breathtaking snorkeling experience
  • Tunnels Beach is easily accessible and has nearby parking and facilities


  • During peak tourist season, Tunnels Beach can become crowded and parking may be difficult to find
  • The reef formations can be sharp, so it's important to be careful while snorkeling to avoid getting scratched
  • Weather conditions can impact the quality of snorkeling, so it's important to check the forecast before heading out


Snorkeling at Lanai's Manele Bay

Lanai's Manele Bay

Lanai's Manele Bay is a snorkeling paradise, offering clear turquoise waters, abundant marine life, and a pristine coral reef ecosystem. Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of colorful fish, such as parrotfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish, as well as octopus, eels, and sea turtles. The bay is also home to several underwater lava formations, which add to the unique snorkeling experience. In addition to the natural beauty of the bay, visitors can also enjoy the convenience of facilities and equipment rentals, making it easy to snorkel at any time. Manele Bay is also a great destination for families with children, as the waters are calm and shallow in some areas, and there are lifeguards on duty. The surrounding area offers stunning views of the island's rugged coastline, making for a picturesque and unforgettable experience.


  • Clear turquoise waters with a pristine coral reef ecosystem
  • Abundant marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and octopus
  • Convenient facilities and equipment rentals available
  • Calm and shallow waters in some areas, making it suitable for families with children
  • Lifeguards on duty


  • Can be crowded during peak tourist season
  • Limited food and drink options in the immediate area
  • Can be subject to rough waters and strong currents, especially during winter months


Snorkeling at O’ahu Shark's Cove

O’ahu Shark's Cove

Shark's Cove, located on the north shore of O'ahu, is a snorkeling destination that has something for everyone. The crystal-clear waters of the cove offer excellent visibility for spotting the diverse marine life below, including colorful tropical fish, eels, and sea turtles. The unique rock formations and coral reefs provide an immersive underwater landscape that will leave you in awe. The cove is protected from ocean swells, making it a calm and safe spot for snorkeling. The cove is easily accessible from the shore, with a sandy beach for sunbathing and relaxing. However, despite its name, sharks are not commonly seen in the cove, so there's no need to fear. Overall, Shark's Cove is a must-visit snorkeling spot in Hawaii, offering an unforgettable underwater experience that is suitable for all skill levels. Find reviews and more information about Shark's Cove.


  • Crystal-clear waters offer excellent visibility for snorkeling
  • Diverse marine life includes colorful tropical fish, eels, and sea turtles
  • Unique rock formations and coral reefs provide an immersive underwater landscape
  • Protected from ocean swells, making it a calm and safe spot for snorkeling
  • Easily accessible from the shore, with a sandy beach for sunbathing and relaxing


  • Crowded on weekends and holidays, with limited parking
  • Strong currents and rough waters can occur during winter months, making snorkeling difficult or dangerous
  • No facilities or equipment rentals available on site, so visitors must bring their own gear

Dig deeper into the spots to snorkel at Oahu island and near Honolulu in our full article, Best Snorkeling Spots in Honolulu.


Snorkeling at Molokini Crater, Maui

Molokini Crater, Maui

This partially submerged volcanic crater is home to an incredibly diverse range of marine life, including colorful fish, eels, octopuses, and even the occasional reef shark. The crater's unique shape and crystal-clear waters offer incredible visibility, allowing snorkelers to see deep into the crater and observe the marine life up close.

In addition to the stunning natural beauty, Molokini Crater is also a popular snorkeling spot due to the ease of access. Visitors can take a boat tour from Maui to the crater, which typically includes snorkeling gear and instructions for those who are new to snorkeling. The boat ride to the crater is also an opportunity to spot whales and dolphins, adding to the excitement of the trip.

Learn how to get to Molokoni Crater.


  • Diverse range of marine life, including reef sharks
  • Crystal-clear waters with excellent visibility
  • Easy access via boat tour
  • Opportunity to spot whales and dolphins during the boat ride


  • Can get crowded, particularly during peak tourist season
  • Boat ride to the crater can be choppy
  • Coral and marine life are fragile and should be treated with care


Night Snorkeling with Manta Rays at Kona

Manta Ray Night Snorkel

The Manta Ray Night Snorkel on the Kona coast of Hawai'i is an unforgettable experience that allows you to get up close and personal with these gentle giants of the sea. Check out our full article about this attraction on Night Snorkeling With Manta Rays At Kona, Hawaii.

The Manta Ray Night Snorkel typically takes place in Keauhou Bay or nearby locations, which are well-known gathering spots for manta rays. During the snorkel, you'll wear a wetsuit and snorkeling gear, and you'll be led by a professional guide who will ensure your safety and provide insight into the behavior and habits of the manta rays.

After dark, you'll take a boat out to the snorkeling location, where lights are set up to attract plankton - the main food source for manta rays. As you snorkel in the shallow waters, the manta rays will glide gracefully around you, feeding on the plankton and performing their acrobatic maneuvers.

To get to the Manta Ray Night Snorkel, you'll need to travel to the Kona coast of the Big Island. Most snorkeling tour companies will provide transportation to and from your hotel or a central location, so be sure to check with your chosen tour operator for details. It's also important to note that the Manta Ray Night Snorkel is a popular activity and can get booked up quickly, so it's best to book in advance to secure your spot.