Southwest of Lihue and south of Koloa on Kauai, the snorkeling at Beach House Beach (Lawai Beach) is known for its plentiful marine life. This beach cove, located to the west of the highend Beach House Restaurant, is protected by a reef and offers good snorkeling especially at low tide. While snorkeling off Beach House Beach, you may encounter green sea turtles, butterfly fish, morrish idol, needlefish, goatfish, crocodile fish, wrasse, parrotfish and occasionally monk seals. The further you snorkel from shore, the better the water clarity and the larger the coral formations. The water depth ranges from 5 to 15 feet. There is good snorkeling off the eastern rocks in front of the Beach House Restaurant, which seems to be the most popular location for finding the feeding honu green sea turtles.
The only negative of the Lawai beach is that it can become very crowded with tour groups at times, so make sure to arrive early. The water clarity is usually pretty poor, so don't expect much. The coral growth is quite limited over the rocky seafloor. Also, from May through September, the surf off Beach House Beach is affected by seasonal southerly swells that kickup the large waves and generate strong currents so make sure to exercise caution.
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 Beach House Beach snorkeling from Koloa, head south on Poipu Road. Turn right on Lawai Road towards Spouting Horn. Just past the Beach House Restaurant, use the small public parking area across the street from the beach with a shower. Lawai Beach is located across from the Lawai Beach Resort.
Before snorkeling at Lawai Beach, 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. In addition to changing surf conditions, a Beach House Beach snorkeling dive may expose you to sharp coral reefs and you may encounter sharks, such as whitetip reef sharks, galapagos sharks and tiger sharks. Most snorkeling shark attacks in Hawaiian waters tend to occur near spear-fishing snorkelers, so be aware of the activities of others in the water.
Overall, Beach House Beach is the 15th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Kauai.