Much of the fun at Kauai’s beaches happens above water. Surfing, swimming, boogie boarding and paddleboarding are some of our favorite ways to spend a perfect Kauai beach day. But putting on a snorkel mask and fins on your feet will give you a perspective of Kauai that is completely different from the above view. Underwater, Kauai’s coral reefs are teeming with sea life; colorful fish in a rainbow of hues and sizes coexisting in their underwater oasis.
Poipu’s warm waters range from 70˚ to 80˚ Fahrenheit year round, meaning every day is the perfect day for snorkeling. Poipu Beach is the only life-guarded beach in Poipu and offers some of the best snorkeling available in its two crescent shaped bays, which are separated by a natural sand tombola, and well populated with an abundance of fish, including the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (the official Hawaiian state fish) silver needle fish, pennant fish, blue parrot fish and more. Poipu Beach was named America’s Best Beach by The Travel Channel and offers park facilities, restrooms, and showers.
Not far from Poipu Beach is Lawai Beach, a small beach with calm waters and excellent snorkeling. Less crowded than the popular Poipu Beach, you will find schools of fish that twist and turn over and around the ocean reefs. Lawai Beach also happens to be one of the best vantage points to take in the evening sunset and has a nice grassy area to set up your beach towel for the show.
Water clarity is best in the mornings, before the crowds arrive to swim and snorkel. Keep your eyes peeled for the occasional moray eel or green sea turtle, which sometimes feed on the seaweed covering the reefs. Also, green sea turtles and the Hawaiian monk seals are protected endangered species. Swimming next to them or touching them could not only be dangerous, but is also illegal and could result in a fine. If you see one of these magnificent creatures while on your adventure, do your best to swim away and keep your distance.
Standing or walking on the reef can harm Kauai’s fragile ecosystem, which is detrimental to the sea life. You could also possibly step on a sea urchin, whose sharp spikes can easily get lodged in your feet for an unpleasant trip to the doctor. Reef shoes called tabbies can help protect you from being poked by sea urchins or cut by coral, but we recommend standing as little as possible and using fins instead to help you stay afloat.
Snorkel Bob’s and Nukumoi Surf Shop can get set up with snorkel masks and fin rentals. Purchasing a small bag of fish food will reap large rewards as fish swarm about you looking for a tasty morsel of food.
Snorkeling in Poipu is an unforgettable experience, one that will stay with you long after you leave Kauai.