Snorkeling at Lawai Beach on the South Shore of Beautiful Kauai

If you are like me you find snorkeling an amazing experience. However, it requires a little bit of work and finesse. If you are fair skinned like myself, the first step is slathering on a good coat of waterproof sunscreen, which makes you even whiter than when you started (something I thought nearly impossible!). Next comes the task of donning all the garb, dousing your mask with anti-fog liquid, fitting your mask on in a way that hopefully minimizes the number of hairs torn out, securing said hair out of the way, and finally sliding on those oh so lovely flippers that transform you into part fish.


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People Snorkeling at Lawai Beach
People Snorkeling at Lawai Beach

Then there’s the getting into and out of the water. This is not a graceful process. If you were then to find yourself in water with hardly any, or no fish at all, well, one could leave wondering if it was worth it. Have no fear! If you follow my advice and head to Lawai Beach, on the beautiful South shore of Kauai, Hawaii, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll duck walk back onto shore happy – elated even!

Snorkelers Entering the Water
Snorkelers Entering the Water

That’s because Lawai Beach is, in my humble opinion, the best spot to snorkel in Kauai! As soon as the awkward step of getting into the water is over, you find yourself immersed in a wonderland reminiscent of childhood daydreams. Tropical fish, some bearing every color of the rainbow, surround you in this gorgeous sea of blue. We’ve found several types of fish to be exceptionally friendly. The Parrot Fish for one, will come right up while flapping its wing like fins and you will literally feel like they are saying, “Hello” or perhaps using the Hawaiian term, “Aloha”!

Another friendly fish is the Raccoon Butterfly fish. They seem to like to travel in pairs and are always eager to check out the human with strange mask and fish feet! You’ll also see other butterfly fish, the Longnose, Teardrop, Fourspot, and Lemon to name a few. One of our favorite critters is the White Spotted Puffer. They look as if they’re filled with helium and flutter their fins at a high speed, very cute indeed. You’ll also see the famous Lionfish.

And, if you’re familiar with Disney’s Finding Nemo, you will spot Gill, or the Moorish Idol, too! I’ve heard children, including our own son, who are so excited when they’re at the aquarium and see a fish from Finding Nemo…just imagine how it feels to be able to show them their favorite fish in its natural habitat; it’s pure joy!

In fact, we were just snorkeling at Lawai Beach today (I like to go in the morning, the place is not busy and the water seems to be calmer) and we spotted what we both thought was a clown fish (though after looking at a Hawaiian Reef Fish Guide, it could have also been a Juvenile Yellow Coris) my son was yelling though his snorkel, “It’s Nemo! It’s Nemo!”

Snorkelers with Lawai Beach Resort in the Background
Snorkelers with Lawai Beach Resort in the Background

Now if you’re snorkeling at Lawai Beach you are bound to see a strange, long, thin fish with a needle like snout floating (usually in a school) just under the surface of the water. Do not be alarmed! These interesting fish are called Needlefish and won’t bother you a bit.

Swimming lower down you will see a similar shaped fish with a more rounded snout, those would be trumpet fish…again, they won’t bother you. If you’re lucky you will see a Zebra Moray Eel or a Snowflake Moray Eel. I’ve seen Snowflake Eel’s on several occasions here at Lawai and they are very cool! You have to keep your eyes open and look around the rocks and coral for them as they like to hide.

Lawai Beach Looking Toward the Beach House Reataurant
Lawai Beach Looking Toward the Beach House Restaurant

Other fish you will have a chance to see will be the Rectangular Triggerfish, The Bird Wrasse, the Yellow-tail Wrasse, and the – oh so cool – Spiny Puffer (we don’t see these as often as the spotted puffers). If you are really lucky, you’ll see the gorgeous and serene Green Sea Turtle. There is something unique and magical about swimming with these amazing creatures. If you’d like to share some facts about Green Sea Turtles with your kids you can find some at http://www.animalfactguide.com/animal-facts/green-turtle/.

When you snorkel at Lawai beach there are also countless other fish you may see. For a guide that will show you the ones I mentioned, as well as others, go to http://www.ericjsimon.com/hawaiireef. And, all jokes aside, for a good tutorial on how to use snorkel equipment, you can go to http://www.snorkelingonline.com/pages/how-to-use-snorkeling-gear. It’s really not difficult once you get the hang of it. I actually wait until I’m in the water, then put my fins on, but you’ll find what works best for you.

East End of Lawai Beach
East End of Lawai Beach

Something to mention here is the weather. Kauai is known for getting the occasional tropical downpour, often in the late afternoon…the wettest spot on Earth is located here after all! But since Lawai Beach is located in Poipu on the South Shore, it is on the sunny side of the island. Hence, you have better luck at getting a nice clear day for snorkeling.

However, if it does rain while you’re planning on snorkeling don’t fret! After all, you’re already wet, just float along and enjoy! In fact, my favorite time snorkeling with my son was on a day that ended up bringing a downpour of rain. We watched the drops hit the top of the water from below the surface, whilst surrounded by an ocean of color…it was as if we’d stepped out of a normal day and into a dream.

Happy Travels!
-Hollin

Hollin Stafford
Hollin Stafford

Hollin is originally from California. After obtaining a degree in Sociology she worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines so that she could combine her work with something she’s always loved, travel. Later she found herself in Seattle, WA where she met her husband and went to work in the real estate field.

She moved with her family from Port Townsend, WA to Sintra, Portugal in 2016. They said they’d try it out for a year and never left! Leveraging her U.S. real estate background and the insights she’s gained over the years into Portuguese life, she works with the Brightman Group, guiding international buyers and connecting sellers. She loves her work and finds delight in helping people find their ‘spot’ in the world.

Hollin's passions also include spending quality time with family and friends, seeking out excellent food and writing. She writes in a variety of genres, from YA, to literary short stories, non-fiction and engaging travel pieces. Her current focus is on writing a memoir about what brought her family to Portugal.

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