Snorkeling in Kauai vs Maui?

Aug 2nd, 2009, 10:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Snorkeling in Kauai vs Maui?

Anyone out there that has snorkeled in Maui and Kauai?
We have been to Maui once and absolutely loved our 8 days there, traveled the entire island so we don't stay in one place for long. My problem I can use help with. I 'm planning a trip for my husband myself and our adult son 24 and his best friend ,I have narrowed the islands down to Kauai or Maui. I am looking for any information about snorkeling in Kauai. We loved snorkeling at Kapalua Beach in Maui (the fact that we could just walk into water) and it was great snorkeling. We also did the boat trip to Molokini. I would love to hear from anyone who has snorkeled either at North shore of Kauai or south near Poipu. Planning on leaving end of Aug for 13 nights. We would be happy to snorkel everyday if we could. I am trying to decide if we should go back to Maui versus trying a visit to Kauai. Thanks for any comments.
puppygirl806 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2009, 11:45 AM
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I've been to Kauai twice, although later in the year than August. It's a gorgeous place, but we didn't find much good snorkeling.

We had one ok day at beautiful Kee Beach, right at the end of the road on the North Shore, but waves were too high elsewhere on the North and East shores to get any visibility. This was October and November, however. I can't tell you about Popiu.

Friends and fodorites have told me Maui snorkeling is much better.
Have a great trip!
Morning_Giggle is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2009, 11:50 AM
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Hi, puppygirl. I've snorkeled in both Maui and Kauai and enjoyed snorkeling at both islands. The very best snorkeling we've done in Hawaii was on The Big Island of Hawaii.

We've snorkeled at Ke'e Beach on Kauai's north shore, and it was great when we were there. You have to get there early to get a parking spot. There's also Tunnels Beach near there.

We've also snorkeled on Poipu Beach. The last time I snorkeled there during the summer, and that particular beach was rough that day. I had a hard time making it back to shore (thought I was going to have to yell for help) and got lots of cuts and bruises on the rocks/coral. But normally, Poipu is calmer.

Kauai and the Big Island are our favorite islands. If you like to hike, there are lots of hiking opportunities on Kauai. Be sure to go to Waimea Canyon; if you go, try to go early in the morning for the best canyon views. At the end of the road at the top, you can park your car and walk about a mile for some incredible views.

We've done a snorkeling trip on Kauai with Captain Andy's. It's a catamaran trip; during the trip you'll see amazing views of the Napali Cliffs. Lots of times (and including when we've been there), the trip back in the afternoon can be extremely rough. Our catamaran would crash into the oncoming waves, and water would come up and cover the whole boat, completely soaking everyone on the boat (except if you were inside under cover); it was very exciting and quite a bit of fun. I wouldn't take small children there, but I think your 24-year-old and his friend would probably love it.

Have fun planning!
Samsaf is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2009, 12:06 PM
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Thanks, Samsaf would you recommend Big Island instead of Kauai overall or even just for snorkeling? My husband would love to try surfing also. We are flexible and will have a wonderful time on whichever island we end up picking. I am so excited I posted on this site and am getting such wonderful responses. Looking through books and the internet just are not the same. Thanks again, Puppygirl806
puppygirl806 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Not sure if I would recommend the Big Island INSTEAD of Kauai, because I love them both. Not sure about surfing on either island. We did see more surfing on the Big Island, I think. We were there for 10 nights a couple of years ago for our 25th anniversary. I have a trip report here -- if you click my name and keep searching back, you should be able to find it.

We've been to Kauai twice and really loved it. We like to snorkel, hike, and do outside things. We're not really wanting much nightlife, and Kauai and the Big Island don't have as much nightlife as Maui does.

Some people would say that 13 nights is too long to just stay on Kauai, but I could easily stay there 13 nights. If I did do that, I would probably try to stay on the north shore about 6 nights and then on the south shore about 7 nights.

On the Big Island, we spent 3 nights near Kona (near more activities), then drove the southern route and stayed 2 nights near volcano (for volcano activities, Hilo), and then drove the northern side of the island to the west side of the island in the resort area an dstaqyed at the Fairmont Orchid for 5 nights.

Try to get the Big Island Revealed and the Kauai Revealed books ( for some really good information. Lots of people don't agree with all the advice these authors give regarding safety of outings, but they also give very good information about the islands.

Let me know if I can be of more help.
Samsaf is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 11:28 AM
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Kauai has great hiking that Maui doesn't have, but the snorkeling just isn't as good. Although, our last time there in May '08 we had excellent conditions at Poipu and saw a couple of fish we've never seen on Maui, a "rockturner" that, yes, went along the bottom turning over rocks.

Just figure that you'll do different things on Kauai. It's small and green and has loads of goregous trails.

With 13 days, you could go to both islands?
gigib is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 11:46 AM
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I think the snorkeling is better on Maui, but my favorite snorkeling location on any island is Makua (Tunnels) Beach on Kauai. Th snorkeling is very good, but the location is what makes it a WOW for me. The gentle curve of the bay is backed by the ever present Makana Peak (Bali Hai). It is lovely.

We're usually there in July/August and go here almost everyday while on island. Most days the water conditions have been flat and wonderful in the morning, with the wind and currents picking up in the afternoon. Our experience has been that there is always a slight right-to-left current running that one needs to be aware of. Some days it is stronger than others. It has never kept us out of the water during this time frame. One must always use common sense when swimming or snorkeling here though. It is easy enough to stay away from the channel that drains the reef, but if you did get sucked out through the channel the next stop would be Japan.

Even though I have snorkeled with groups of turtles at Ke'e, it is not one of my favorite places to go. It gets crowded, and I get depressed looking at all the idiots standing and walking on the reef instead of floating over it that I have to leave.

Since we are usually on Kauai in the summer, Poipu Beach has never had what I would consider excellent snorkeling. I think it is better in the Fall/Winter/Spring months.

On Maui, the best snorkeling we had was off the beaches south of the Wailea resorts and a bit north of the Makena Surf condos. We also enjoyed the abundant turtles in the waters off the beach at the Maui Prince Hotel.
iamq is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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You've gotten so many good responses, but I'll just add a couple of things. I've snorkeled both islands and agree with iamq that Maui was better----for me the reason was more snorkeling spots and more varied spots. I snorkeled Poipu Beach in Kauai and it was very good when I was there in the winter. In summer, I am told the snorkeling is very good on the North side. However, Maui has many more choices than two. So if I was going for lots of snorkeling, I'd go back to Maui. If I was going for lots of hiking through beautiful scenery, I'd go back to Kauai. If I wanted both, I might consider splitting 13 days between the two islands.
Of course the good thing about the islands is that whatever you decide to do will be a heavenly experience and whatever you miss this time you will go back to do next time.
montereybob is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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I also agree with Iamq that, in my experience, Maui is better than Kauai for snorkeling, but the Big Island was even better, imo.
Kauai is a beautiful & much sought out island for other reasons.
olesouthernbelle is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 08:53 PM
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Thanks to all, I finally booked flights tonight for Kauai. I decided that since we have been fortunate to have been to Maui that we would like to experience as much as possible on a different island.I just know we won't be able to drive as many miles as in Maui because are son gets car sick and I am pretty sure there are less miles to drive on Kauai. We are planning on staying in the north but have not finalized condo yet. Would welcome any other great tips or info regarding Kauai as an island.
puppygirl806 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Good choice------ Kauai is a not to be missed destination for travelers. Everything you could possibly want to know about Kauai is in the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook by Doughty. This book will greatly enhance your trip as it will tell you the best places to stay, best places to eat, best activities, best beaches, best hikes, and best snorkeling places.
Have fun!
montereybob is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 09:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
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I love Kaua'i. It's the most beautiful place on earth. Once you've experienced Kauai all else looks plain.
ceejay2005 is offline  

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