Kauai is the fourth biggest island in the Hawaii archipelago. With its canyons, breathtaking cliffs beaten by the ocean and luxuriant vegetation, it amply merits its nickname, the Garden Isle. For many people, it is the one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Kauai has more than 100 miles (160km) of coastline and numerous snorkeling spots. While they are not of the same quality as in Big Island or Maui, they can still produce memorable explorations.

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As Kauai is the oldest island in the archipelago, the barrier reefs have had time to develop. Snorkeling can be carried out in good safety conditions, although you need to take into account the incoming and outgoing currents in the small “lagoons”.

Most of the snorkeling spots in Kauai, such as Kee Beach or Tunnels Beach, are on the northern coast of the island (North Shore). In winter, it is beaten by impressive waves so that, despite the shelter offered by the coral barriers, these spots are impracticable.

Snorkeling Report Kauai
The Napali Coast, arc-eye hawkfish at Tunnels Beach, and the Waimea Canyon

450 species of fish and 70 species of coral populate the Hawaiian reefs, including a quarter that are native to the archipelago. In Kauai you will have the best chance to come across a Hawaiian monk seal on the beach or in the water. This endangered species is endemic to Hawaii, and most seals live in the north-western islands, while regularly visiting the northern coast of the island.
When to go to Kauai?

As elsewhere in the archipelago, there are two main seasons in Kauai. The summer, from May to October, is the warmest, driest and sunniest season (with an average of 80°F/26.5°C, and maximum temperatures of 85°F/29.5°C). This is the hurricane season, but they are rare in the North Pacific. In winter, from November to April, the weather is wetter and more changeable (intermittent tropical rains and sunny spells), and the air is cooler (an average of 75°F/24°C, with maximum temperatures of 78°F/25.5°C).

The water temperature can fall to 73°F/23°C in winter (which is still a good temperature for snorkeling), and reach a peak of 82-84°F/28-29°C in the heart of the summer (June to September). Lastly, you should remember that winter is the surfing season in Hawaii, and it is sometimes hard for snorkelers to access the northern coast of Kauai (North Shore) during this period.

CDC Kauai EN

Where to spot them?

Reef triggerfish

On all spots

Teardrop butterflyfish

On all spots

Millet butterflyfish

On all spots

Bluestripe butterflyfish

On all spots

Arc-eye hawkfish

On all spots, common at Tunnels Beach

Bluefin trevally

On all spots

Moorish idol

On all spots