North of Lihue and south of Kapaa on Kauai, the snorkeling at Lydgate Park is well known for its protected cove. There is a manmade lava wall that protects a 3 to 6 foot deep beach cove. The snorkeling off Lyngate Park is perfect for beginners and children. The marine life tends to be friendly and tame. You can expect to see tangs, moray eels, butterflyfish, humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Hawaiian state fish aka rectangular triggerfish), wrasse, goatfish and parrotfish among some cauliflower coral.
The best time for Lyngate Park snorkeling is at low tide for optimum clarity. Since Lydgate Park gets very crowded in the afternoons and weekends, the best snorkeling is weekday mornings. The ocean off Lydgate is known for its yearround easterly tradewinds that kick up surf all yearround, so make sure to stay inside the protective cove. If you do venture outside of the cove, keep an eye out for spotted eagle rays. After a long morning of snorkeling at Lyngate, head on over to the new Lava Lava Beach Club for a cool drink on the waterfront.
To reach the snorkeling in Kauai by air, fly into the Lihue airport (LIH). There are direct flights from Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu. While most visitors to the island rent a car, it is possible to use the public bus but keep in mind that its small and slow. Plus, most of the main snorkeling beaches are well off the bus route requiring some hiking. If you do rent a car, make sure to leave the inside empty when at the beach to avoid attracting break-ins.
To reach the Lydgate snorkeling from Lihue, head north on Kuhio Highway (SR56) to about 0.5 miles past the 5 mile marker. Turn right heading hesat on Lehio Drive. Turn right heading east on Nalu Drive to the end.
Before snorkeling at Lydgate Park, make sure to check the current surf report. The waters off Kauai are known for potentially strong currents, high surf and rogue waves. Luckily, there are excellent up-to-date surf reports that can provide guidance on these adverse conditions. WIth the usually rolling surf, it is strongly discouraged to use open-tube snorkels which are common at snorkel rental locations -- only use snorkels with a dry-top splash-guard and a sump purge-valve in the mouth piece.
Overall, Lydgate Park is the 7th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Kauai.