Great snorkeling spots to view Hawaii’s Tropical Fish

Jun 16, 2021 | General Information

There are few things that visitors to Hawaii enjoy more than putting on their fins and heading for the warm ocean waters surrounding Hawaii’s islands. Water temperatures during the year usually range between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Hawaii’s waters generally are crystal clear with excellent visibility, especially in protected marine reserves on each island and Molokini.

But more than anything else, visitors are attracted to the colorful fish, beautiful coral formations and incredible marine life below the water’s surface. Hawaii’s great snorkeling spots with lots in tropical fish include the state’s 11 Marine Life Conservation Districts (MLCD). Others can be found in some of the state’s most scenic locations. Snorkeling or diving in each of these locations provide very different kind of experiences.

Snorkeling tours along Kauai’s scenic Na Pali Coast often are combined with visits to Ni’ihau and the turquoise waters of Lehua Crater. A small, crescent-shaped island just north of Ni’ihau, Lehua’s clear waters are home to a very large number and variety of reef-feeding fish and the island itself is a Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary. As a sanctuary, Lehua provides habitat for at least 16 species of sea birds. In Lehua’s waters, snorkelers will commonly encounter large schools of brightly colored fish including Pyramid, Milletseed, Pennant Butterflyfish and many other Butterflyfish including Raccoon, Fourspot, Longnose and the Saddleback.

A stunning variety of tropical fish and coral diversity are found off portions of the Big Island’s Kona Coast and also near the northern end of the island. Historic Kealakekua Bay is known for incredibly clear water and healthy coral reefs teeming with colorful fish. Kealakekua Bay is part of an MLCD that includes pristine waters and diverse marine life. Elsewhere around the Big Island, an abundance of tropical fish also is found near the Old Kona Airport and north from Kawaihae in the Waialea part of Kawaihae Bay and near Lapakahi State Historical Park.

Hanauma Bay on Oahu is home to hundreds of colorful fish species, sea turtles and a living coral reef with countless underwater passageways to explore. Countless visitors have confirmed that this stunning aquatic environment is unlike any other in Hawaii or even on the planet. Fortunately Hanauma Bay is one of Hawaii’s protected MLCD sites along with Pūpūkea and Waimea Bay Beach Parks on the north shore of Oahu.

Maui is unsurpassed in Hawaii for its abundance of tropical fish and variety of snorkeling sites. Honolua Bay is an MLCD located on the northwestern end of Maui. No fishing of any kind is allowed there making for sea life density and diversity that is second to none on Maui. Night diving reveals otherwise hidden nocturnal sea creatures. Snorkelers flock to its colorful coral reefs of Honolua Bay and also scuba divers looking for eagle rays and spinner dolphins.

Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve is located on the southern coast of Maui just past Makena. It is a Marine Life Conservation District with a coastline mostly made up of lava rock intermixed with coral. The abrupt contours of the sea floor make perfect homes and hiding places for aquatic life to flourish.

Molokini is owned by the federal government and is a protected Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary. Molokini is home to about 250 species of fish and a variety of other marine life. On most days in the crystal clear water, with more than 150 feet of visibility, you’ll encounter one or another of the fish that I plan to talk about in several videos: trigger fish, tangs, parrotfish, butterfly fish, trumpet fish, needle fish, wrasse, Puffer fish, angel fish, clown fish, Moorish idols and much more.