Southwest of Hanalei on the Na Pali Coast, the snorkeling off Nualolo Kai State Park is known to be very good. It has a sandy beach with a fringe protective reef, though the water clarity is usually pretty poor. The remote Nu'aloIo Kai State Park is an old fishing village and is now considered part of the Na Pali Coast State Park. The water ranges from 2 to 15 feet deep, and the water visibility ranges from 5 to 15 feet. During Nualolo Kai snorkeling, you may encounter convict tangs, orange spined tangs, unicornfish, green sea turtles and spinner dolphin pods among the formations of lobe coral and califlower coral.
To reach the snorkeling in Kauai by air, fly into the Lihue airport (LIH). There are direct flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver 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 Nualolo Kai State Park snorkeling, you will need a boat or kayak. The best approach is from the north when the water is forecasted to be calm. It is located 5 miles north of Polihale State Park There are numerous boat tours operating from both the north and south shores out of Hanalei and Port Allen, respectively. You'll need to check the morning of the tour to find out if they plan to snorkel off Milolii State Park beach.
Note, before heading out to Nualolo Kai State Park, check with the Kauai Parks office on it's status. The beach may be currently closed.
Before snorkeling at Nualolo Kai State 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. In addition to changing surf conditions, a Nualolo Kai State Park 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, Nualolo Kai State Park is the 5th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Kauai.