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SNORKELING in January: Calm winter beach on Kauai or Oahu??

SNORKELING in January: Calm winter beach on Kauai or Oahu??

Old Sep 12th, 2012, 04:27 PM
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SNORKELING in January: Calm winter beach on Kauai or Oahu??

Hello Hawaii lovers! Where is it calm enough for snorkeling in January, on either Kauai or Oahu? I prefer to walk into the water from a sandy beach, as opposed to having to jump into the water off of a rocky edge. We especially love to stay in an accommodation which is located right on a beach which is safe for snorkeling in January.

I should add that snorkeling isn't our only interest. We like enjoying everything that the Hawaiian islands have to offer. It's just important to us to get to snorkel at least a coupla times during our January Hawaiian vacation.

We usually do only one island at a time, and split our stay between the "sunny dry" and "wet green" sides of the island.

Since we live in San Diego, Hawaii is a short flight for us.

Thanks for any suggestions! We have been to both Big Island and Maui in recent years. Have never been to Oahu. Haven't been to Kauai for over 20 years, and last time Kaui was a summer trip for us, not a winter trip.

I'm a dreamy poet and my husband is an avid biologist, and we are both seeking inspiration. >
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Old Sep 12th, 2012, 06:36 PM
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The south end of both islands is where you will find the least waves in winter - but you could have a week where a storm or two blow in/through, and it might not be the best visibility/conditions.

Also - go early in the morning - when the visibility is usually the best.

Kauai is our personal favorite - and staying down by Poipu is probably best in the winter - but do get up to the uber lush North Shore/Bali Hai view (our very favorite place) - and also over to Waimea Canyon.

For specific recommendations on accommodations - check out the many other posts in here under Hawaii.

You can always grab a deal to Oahu some other time.
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Old Sep 12th, 2012, 07:20 PM
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Kiahuna Plantation in the Poipu Beach area would be my choice for a place to stay.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 10:34 AM
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On Oahu the best place to snorkel in January for visitors is Hanauma Bay, which is a nature preserve on the south shore. There is a beach but there is no accommodation right at the site.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 10:42 AM
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Hi Melissa --

I'm not a snorkeler, so can't help you much with that. But I know that Lydgate Park (on the East Coast -- near Kapa'a) is protected and most of the time the water is calm.

I'll be on Kauai's North Shore most of January and part of February. Last year, I had mostly beautiful weather at that same time; I think at one point there were about 20 consecutive, mostly sunny days--with rain only in very brief showers--or in the evening. Then a 5 - 7 day period with more rain than sun. It's so hard to predict for a short duration.

But I do recall some huge surf on the North Shore last winter. I loved it--but I'd rather spend my time walking along the edge of the water than being in it.

If snorkeling is a priority I'm not sure the winter is the time for Hawaii. But others might have better info.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 11:04 AM
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The Ko Olina lagoons (man made) on the Leeward shore of Oahu offer protected snorkeling year round. It's not great snorkeling, some small reef fish and usually a couple of resident turtles at Honu lagoon (lagoon 2). Access is via the sandy beach and there are several accommodation options. The JW Ihilani, Disney Aulani, Beach Villas and Marriott Ko Olina are all beachfront. In addition, there are non-beachfront houses/condos for rent. This also tends to be the driest side of the island.

I haven't been to Hanauma Bay in years but it can be fairly crowded.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 01:40 PM
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Winter is the time to stay south on Kauai, Oahu, and to some extent on Maui. Summer is a much better time to visit Kauai and Oahu, but the sealife on these two is less good than what you've experienced on Maui and Big Island.

January is Whale Season, best enjoyed from Maui. Maui also has a much wider choice of what you are asking for: lodging ON a sandy, easy-access beach. I prefer the calmer ocean off South Maui in winter, but weather would be OK from Kahana on south.

We *have* stayed Poipu in winter, but...the most gorgeous north will almost certainly be wet; even Poipu was drenched last winter.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 04:07 PM
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Hanauma Bay has the best snorkeling in the Islands - and it is not that busy in the winter - but still - suggest you go early there - or elsewhere (Poipu, Lydgate or Ke'e on Kauai) - when the Ocean is at it's calmest and has the best vis for snorkeling/diving.

It's really a tradeoff. Even if you don't to snorkel much - the Ocean will be beautiful if the big surf is breaking/blowing in.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 04:16 PM
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BTW - I/we have snorkeled/dove all over the Islands (with the exception of Lanai and that is next on the list) - and I don't think Maui is any more spectacular than what you can find anywhere else.

It's all about rocks and other underground "structure" - reefs, etc - where the whole chain of food is available - starting with smallest fish and getting bigger.

Our second favorite snorkeling beach is Ke'e (North Shore Kauai) - and Lydgate (mid-island) is probably 3rd - and Poipu has some good places - but there are also other good places on Oahu (around Chinaman's hat was fun and "shark's cove" - where there really aren't any sharks anymore on the North Shore of Oahu is good - and there are many other places, and Black Rock at Kaanapali (Maui) is vry good - as are other coves above Kaanapali and down at La Peruse Bay is also very good - and we found some fun places out at Hana - and Hey - Big Island has even more choices around the big island - and Molokai also has some nice spots.

So if it's snorkeling you want - you will be fine on either Oahu or Kauai this trip - weather permitting.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 04:39 PM
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good conditions for snorkling at Ke'e in January is extremely rare.
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Old Sep 13th, 2012, 08:32 PM
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FYI, the winter whales in Kauai are FANTASTIC. I see many of them every day from the lanai at the Sealodge condo I rent on the North Shore. Other great viewing spots include the Kilauea Lighthouse, the walking path past Kealia Beach, and Spouting Horn.

You definitely do NOT have to go to Maui to see whales.

I reiterate that I've had some beautiful, DRY weather on the notoriously wet North Shore--but there are no guarantees. I think the rainiest time was March--but that affected the entire island.
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Old Sep 14th, 2012, 03:45 AM
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January in Paradise is a bit like Forest Gump and a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.

And totally agree with Sondoc:

I have been to North Shore Kauai twice during the winter months - and the first time - a big storm blew in - and the surf closed out Hanalei Bay - even though it was "only" 15 foot plus waves. Just spectacular.

Two days later - snorkeling was great.

The second time - had a couple of smaller/daylong storms, which left nice waterfalls on the hills - and again, it was calm/smooth with good vis a couple days afterwards.
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Old Sep 14th, 2012, 02:38 PM
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Tomsd: I'm intrigued by haunama bay on Oahu as you are experienced and you say it has the best January snorkeling on the islands. I'm a cautious snorkeler but I love it because I feel free in the water. You see I have some feet and hip issues which limit my hiking but I don't have any pain in the water. Yay! Can I walk into the water at haunama bay? I don't like climbing into the water off a rocky ledge. Also where would you stay to be near haunama bay for early morning snorkeling? I was looking at the pricey The Kahala hotel which is on the other side of diamond head from Waikiki. doesn't need to be that pricey but we like it quiet at night for sleeping and well located and preferably on a beach. Thanks!!!
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Old Sep 14th, 2012, 02:51 PM
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Songdoc: we just want to snorkel a couple mornings. You see I can't hike far without pain due to some feet and hip issues but I don't have any pain in the water! Yay! But we also want to go on lots of short scenic strolls on beautiful coasts. Currently I can only walk about an hour max before I gotta take off my shoes and rest. then on a good day I can do another hour. So we need easy scenic strolls. I'm getting custom orthotics adjusted and physical therapy. I'm in my 50s and hope to regain my former hiking abilities! I love your trip reports and Kauai is calling me strongly. Still torn between Kauai and Oahu. Husband wants to see some of the museums on Oahu but being a biologist I'm afraid he will be disappointed in Oahu. We saw Kauai over 20 years ago and loved it but it was a summer trip with kids. This is a winter trip plus anniversary trip!
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Old Sep 14th, 2012, 03:00 PM
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Love Kahala but you don't have to stay there if you are leaving early to go snorkel at Hanauma Bay - as you are going the opposite direction from Waikiki/Honolulu - against the flow of all the traffic coming into town from out by Hawaii Kai.

Hanauma Bay - and Ke'e as well as Lydgate on Kauai - are very easy to snorkel - and you can just walk out to the reef (it's starts very close at Hanauma and Lydgate - a bit further out over sandy bottom at Ke'e - but still protected - assuming of course if there is not big surf) - if need be, and then as you get more confident - or ss your body allows, swim around a bit.

Think there are lifeguards at all three beaches but double check once you get there.
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Old Sep 14th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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Entry to Hanauma Bay is from a beach. It's a partially submerged crater and you park at the top (if you can find any) and walk down to the beach. It's a bit steep but I believe there's a shuttle you can take up and down. There's an entry fee and a parking fee and you're required to watch an educational film first. The preserve is closed on Tuesdays.
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Old Sep 14th, 2012, 06:34 PM
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tomsd and Patty: Thanks. I've been looking at beaches that are safe for snorkeling or swimming in January at both Oahu and Kauai. I also looked at accommodations. I thought this might help me make up my mind. But instead I now have a list of places to stay on both Oahu and Kauai.

And we still aren't sure which island to head for this January 2013...Kauai or Oahu! (It is also possible we would go in December instead of January...but I'm assuming weather would be similar. Usually we go in January not December.)
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Old Sep 15th, 2012, 03:06 AM
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Thanks Patty for adding about the shuttle/golf cart type service from not only the parking lot to the actual Hanauma bay entrance (where you can actually be dropped off with your stuff while DH parks the car) - but also down and up the hill which is a climb if you have knee/hip challenges.

We also like to stop at the shopping center at Hawaii Kai (just before you go up the hill to the parking lot entrance) - and pick up snacks for lunch - either from the Foodland? market - or sometimes from a sushi takeout place right there, which is reasonable.

As for your "dilema" - I say go whenever (Dec or Jan) - to either Isle - when you get the best deal - or one you like - which will not during be the week of Christmas to New Years, or now maybe not even the week before the Holidays.

And hey - storms can blow in from November on - so you just go with it - and there are other fun things to do when it rains, and again, after a rain - it's so beautiful in Paradise.
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Old Sep 15th, 2012, 04:26 PM
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Tomsd: Thanks for all the advice! I have the Fodors Hawaii guidebook 2012 which has all the islands. I went to the bookstore today, intending to choose either the Fodors Kauai book or the Fodors Oahu book. But I couldn't choose so I didn't buy either!

My husband told me I can choose as he seems advantages & disadvantages to both. Which ever I choose, we will do the other one in a couple years anyway.

I think I might choose Kauai but still unsure. 8-)
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 03:59 PM
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Most likely the calmest beaches will be on the south shore during the winter. But that is just based on averages. It doesn't mean you can't find a safe beach up north. I have snorkeled many times at Tunnels and Ke'e beach, and it has been amazing (however in the summer). You can't go wrong, make sure the water is safe, put on the flippers and take a look.

Here is a site we use
http://www.kauaibeachscoop.com/activities/snorkeling
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