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Where Are All the Whales At? Choosing a Snorkel Adventure Hawaii

When you get tired of the outside world and all her noise, snorkeling is always there to welcome you into the calm and the open arms, or should we say fins of whales and dolphins.

Snorkeling adventures and tours in Hawaii, especially on the Big Island and Maui, provide the ultimate escape. It’s not as intense as scuba diving as you don’t sink into the black ocean –with snorkeling you float, drift and dream along with sea turtles and tropical fish.

The sea caves and reefs around the Hawaiian Islands like Oahu, the Big Island, Kauai and Maui, are overloaded with life. From the Kona Coast and Hanauma Bay to the dramatic ridges of the Molokini Crater, a snorkeling tour invites you to see fascinating marine life hidden away from prying eyes.

Crashing humpback whales, playful spinner dolphins, and gentle swimming with Hawaiian green sea turtles are just some of the spectacular sights you can see on a sassy Maui snorkel tour.

What is a Snorkel Adventure Hawaii?

Snorkeling is simply swimming with a mask. The snorkeling tour mask covers most of your face and has a tube that goes from your mouth to poke above the water. The snorkeling mask is clear, so you can both see and breathe, despite your face being ducked under water.

Snorkeling tours allow you to swim with your face turned downwards towards the sea caves, coral reefs, sea turtles and tropical fish of the Hawaiian Islands. You can be privy to watching the rich marine life bloom beneath the ocean. If you are lucky you will also stumble across dolphins beneath the blue.

From witnessing the color of the coral gardens, to gazing at manta rays drifting by, admiring the shimmer of the Hawaiian green sea turtles, and even catching sight of a wild dolphin or humpback whale from the boat – snorkeling tours in Hawaii can be like stepping into the pages of a National Geographic full page spread.

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Why Choose a Snorkel Adventure Hawaii?

Hawaii is brimming with incredible spots for snorkeling tours and dolphin swimming. The iridescent waters, the plethora of marine life, and the abundance of coral reefs and marine life – these are just a snapshot as to why Hawaii is considered a snorkeler’s paradise.

The Big Island, the sweeping Hanauma Bay snorkel shores, the craters of Molokini, the dramatic Kona Coast and beyond – all these spots are vivid and bright places to drop off the boat on a snorkeling tour to admire the world beneath the water.

Hawaii is also the only place in the world to have the Hawaiian green sea turtles along with wild dolphins and humpback whales. The coral reefs around Hawaii are also super healthy – meaning that marine life flourishes. Snorkeling tours and snorkeling adventures are also a great way of discovering the ocean without destroying the fragile eco-system.

Where are the Best Snorkel Adventures Hawaii?
Hanauma Bay Snorkel Tours

Hanauma Bay is one of Oahu’s most glorious beaches and brings in visitors by the droves with its white sugar sands and sensational snorkeling. Hanauma Bay also boasts one of the largest collections of coral reef providing a veritable feeding ground and home for scores of tropical fish and reef fish.

As Hanauma Bay is sheltered it is a great place to snorkel Hawaii, however don’t let the calm ocean deceive you, Hanauma Bay is famed for drownings – always go with a Hanauma Bay snorkel tour rather than brave the bright blue waters alone.

Kealakekua Bay Snorkel Tours

Kealakekua Bay was the gateway for Captain Cook when he arrived on the Big Island to discover the tropical fish paradise of the Hawaiian Islands. Visibility in the ocean that ebbs and flows around Kealakekua Bay and the Kona Coast is as clear and shimmering as Beluga vodka.

Beneath the waters of the Big Island and along the Kona Coast you can see coral reef gardens in full bloom, Hawaiian green sea turtles, manta rays and even spinner dolphins curiously come close to shore. Kealakekua Bay is one of the best spots for snorkeling tours along the Kona Coast and beautiful Big Island.

Molokini Snorkel Tours

Like something out of a dream – the Molokini Crater is startlingly beautiful. Just off the coastal waters of Maui you will find this crescent-shaped volcanic rock. The Molokini Crater is a massive draw for marine life- shoals of tropical fish and reef fish congregate on the coral reef and Hawaiian green sea turtles move fluidly beneath the boat.
When you take a snorkeling tour to Molokini you also have a great chance of seeing spinner dolphins as you are in the open ocean and away from the Hawaiian Islands. The only way to get to the Molokini Crater is by boat, in the right season you may even see a humpback whale on the journey.

Ko’olina Snorkel Tours

For those who don’t want to risk a snorkel tour without seeing the jewels of the Hawaiian Islands – such as green sea turtles and spinner dolphins, then the Ko’olina Resort offers a tour that can be a perfect solution. A Ko’olina Ocean adventure invites you to swim with wild dolphins and drift alongside Hawaiian green sea turtles.
Take a snorkeling tour out on the speed boat from Ko’olina, where you can drop into the ocean and admire the glittering coral reef teeming with tropical fish. From Ko’olina you can visit Turtle Town and swim with its residents, for those who truly want to see sea turtles – Turtle Town’s clue is in the title. At Turtle Town, you are certain to see turtles. The Ko’olina tour even offers seasonal dolphin and whale watching so you can get up close to the impressive humpback whales.

What If I have Never Snorkeled Before?

One of the great things about taking a snorkeling tour or snorkeling adventure is the fact that you don’t need prior experience. Diving can take training and practice, but with snorkeling you can just drop off the boat off the shore of Maui or whatever bay, and start gazing at the scores of reef fish.

Fins can make snorkeling tours easier as you will be able to move better. Many snorkeling tours will also provide life vests so you can float with your face turned down to the coral reef, sea caves, manta rays and tropical fish without having to worry about floating or sinking.

The main thing you will need to get used to – being comfortable breathing in the mask. Make sure that your mask is comfortable and doesn’t have leaks as you won’t care about green sea turtles or wild dolphins if you are spluttering on saltwater.

What to Expect from a Snorkel Adventure Hawaii

When taking a snorkel adventure in Hawaii you can expect to be well and truly dazzled by a wild array of color. Until you have swum beside bright tropical fish, reef fish and spinner dolphins you cannot imagine the wonders that lie beneath the ocean.

Snorkeling isn’t a high adrenaline sport but it is an incredibly therapeutic experience (especially with wild dolphin swims) and you get the chance to absorb the beauty of the moment without someone telling you what to think or feel. After a full safety briefing from your guides and being aligned with the snorkeling equipment you will use, you will take a boat ride out to your spot.

Once in the water you can go at your own pace, getting comfortable being around the shoals of tropical fishes and manta rays and learning to breathe normally through the mask and kick through the waters with ease. On a snorkeling tour, you can be privy to peaceful manta rays drifting like angels alongside you.

You can be sure that snorkeling the Hawaiian Islands is nothing less than pure magic.

What is the Best Time for a Snorkel Adventure Hawaii?

Snorkeling adventures can be enjoyed throughout the year and any time of day. Your tour provider whether its Hanauma Bay snorkel or beyond, will be able to offer the best advice for when the sea turtles, reef fish, and wild dolphins will be the most active.

Most of the time, a snorkel tour is best enjoyed in the summer months when the ocean is calmer and the bays boast gentle waters. In the winter, certain bays on the Big Island and Maui can throw up surf which makes snorkeling tours difficult without a surfboard.


Snorkel tours are an amazingly inspiring way to get up close and personal with spinner dolphins, tropical fish and sea turtles. From Maui to the Big Island and beyond, there are tons of tours that cover this amazing ocean where life blooms beneath the blue bays. Hopefully, you won’t stumble across any sharks or loch ness style monsters, or wildlife to scare the bejesus out of you.



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Call Us: (808) 797-3675


  • Brian K

    Brian K has been a writer and publisher for 10+ years and has worked for LiveYourAloha as a freelance author and content manager for several of them. There's not much about Hawaii he can't tell you about!