The crystal clear ocean waters of Kauai create the perfect environment for snorkeling.  The warm waters and thriving reef system make it a natural choice for snorkeling.  One of the reasons the reef system is so spectacular is it has been developing for millions of years.  It has become a habitat for hundreds of species of fish, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.  Plus, snorkel gear is available for rent at just about every hotel or oceanside attraction so it’s easy to grab a mask, snorkel and some fins and swim around the waters to explore the underwater world of Kauai.

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Anini Beach

The best beaches to snorkel in Kauai

Anini Beach
Home to the longest reef on the island, Anini Beach is located on Kauai’s North Shore.  The water here is fairly shallow and the reef features underwater canyons with ample sea life.
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Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach

The reef here has sea cucumbers in residence and snorkelers frequently spot sea turtles at Poipu Beach.  This South Shore Kauai beach is also home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals, which you can see sunning on the beach.
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Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach
Also known as Makua Beach, Tunnels Beach is the quintessentialspot to snorkel in Kauai, with amazing mountain views surrounding the beach.  The reef here is horseshoe shaped and is home to bright corals, a variety of fish including the vibrant Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, wrasse and parrotfish. 
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Kee Beach

Kee Beach
Kee Beach is a great option for beginner snorkelers as the lagoon is protected from waves by reefs.  Home to plenty of colorful fish and Pacific green sea turtles, views of the Na Pali Coast add to the scenery.
Wherever you snorkel in Kauai you’re sure to experience an underwater world teeming with sea life.  Try to go early in the morning as that is when viewing is best.  And, stay safe!  Be sure to snorkel with a buddy, stay out of choppy water and avoid touching the reefs.  Most of all though, have fun as you explore the sea!   

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Kauai to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

It can be difficult to know where to start when planning a Hawaii vacation.  All the islands are fantastic vacation destinations, each with unique things to do and landscapes.  Not sure whether to visit a single island or island hop?  We’re here to help.  The following is a quick resource guide detailing what each island offers and should help you decide which paradise is perfect for you.

Sailing the Na Pali Coast

Kauai

  • Best for beaches, hiking, snorkeling and sightseeing

Kauai is home to gorgeous, world-class beaches like Hanalei Bay and Tunnels Beach.  Not only are the beaches of Kauai wonderful places to swim, sun and relax they also offer vibrant snorkeling opportunities. Stunning sights like Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast are dramatic landscapes waiting to be explored, as are the various waterfalls found throughout the island.  Some of the waterfalls can be accessed by trails, which is another highlight of a visit to this island.  Kauai hiking trails offers hundreds of trail choices for every level of experience. Hike Kauai Trails and connect with nature. It won’t take long to realize that Kauai is a hiker’s paradise waiting to be discovered.

Waikiki in Oahu

Oahu

  • Best for beaches, shopping, surfing, food and culture

Oahu is the most modern of the islands, especially Waikiki.  You can find high-end fashion boutiques, plenty of souvenir shops and even the sprawling Aloha Stadium Flea Market in the Waikiki/Honolulu area of Oahu.  Eating is also top priority during a vacation here, as top chefs create local cuisine bursting with flavor and plenty of top notch restaurants can be found on Kalakaua Avenue.  Doraku Sushi is one of the best places to get fresh, delicious sushi and is helmed by renowned chef Kevin Aoki.  Food trucks, especially those in and around the North Shore, specialize in local cuisine – specifically shrimp.  One of the best is Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.  Speaking of the North Shore, world-famous surfing is the standard here, especially at the Banzai Pipeline.  Grab a board and surf a wave, or simply sit back and watch the talented surfers do their thing.  Place like Pearl Harbor, the Punchbowl Memorial, Polynesian Cultural Center, Iolani Palace and Bishop Museum create cultural discoveries visitors treasure, too.

Molokini Crater

Maui

  • Best for beaches, hiking, sightseeing, luaus and activities

Maui is known as the Magic Isle and for good reason.  Sun and surf combine on Maui, creating a magical, laid back ambiance perfect for spending days at the beach.  With over 80 beaches on the island, finding a place to stick your toes in the sand is easy.  Some of our favorite beaches include Kapalua Beach, Kaanapali Beach and Wailea Beach.  Hiking in Maui is also a real treat as Maui trails lead you to some of the most amazing places, including cascading waterfalls, bamboo forests and scenic vistas.  One of the best hikes – the Pipiwai Trail – can be found in the Haleakala National Park.   A myriad of activities, including biking down the Haleakala Crater, traveling the Road to Hana, snorkeling Molokini Crater and even Whale Watching(seasonal from December-April), makes Maui an easy choice for visitors looking to add a little adventure to their vacation relaxation.  Entertainment is easy to find too, with luaus like Drums of the Pacific and Old Lahaina Luau performing almost daily. 

Hawaii Volanoes National Park

Big Island

  • Best for outdoor activities, adventure, culture and wildlife

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, easily the biggest attraction on the island.  Kilauea, the most active volcano on earth, is found here and the landscape of the national park provides plenty of trails for hikers to discover.    One of the reasons why outdoor activities abound on the Big Island is due to the Volcanoes National Park, but you can also experience thrills by ziplining on the Kohala Coast, going for a spectacular helicopter tour of the island, as well as horseback riding through upcountry pastures of Kahua Ranch, the tropical Waipio Valley and the historic trail to Kealakekua Bay.  Culture is evident throughout the Big Island, with sights like the Mookini Heiau State Monument and Liliuokalani Gardens frequent stops of visitors.  Be sure to go to Punaluu Black Sand Beach to see Hawaiian green sea turtles, or Honu, basking in the sun on the ocean’s rocky shore.  This is one of the best places to view sea turtles up-close.  Humpback whales can also be found off the shores of the Big Island (seasonally), as can spinner dolphins.

No matter which island you visit you’re sure to have the vacation of a lifetime.  Hopefully, this at-a-glance summary of each island makes your Hawaiian vacation planning a little easier.  Discover your own paradise with a Hawaii vacation – it’s sure to be all you dreamed of and more.

Find out more about snorkeling in Maui »
Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.