Southwest of Lihue and south of Koloa on Kauai, the snorkeling at Hoai Bay is known for its plentiful marine life. This rocky beach cove, located to the east of the highend Beach House Restaurant. Contrary to some reports, this bay is unprotected from the open ocean surf. It can be very difficult to enter the water on the rocky coast with waves breaking. While snorkeling in Hoai Bay, it is common to large see green sea turtles, especially to the right further out, along with some convict tangs, parrotfish and goatfish. From May through September, the surf off Hoai Bay (aka Prince Kuhio Beach park) is affected by seasonal southerly swells that kickup the large waves and generate strong currents so make sure to exercise caution. The water depth ranges from 3 to 20 feet deep.
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 Hoai Bay snorkeling from Koloa, head south on Poipu Road. Turn right on Lawai Road towards Spouting Horn. There is no public parking lot at Hoai Bay (just some roadside parking), so continue past the Beach House and use the public parking on the right. Then walk back the way you drove in passing the Beach House. The Hoai Bay is just past the Beach House on the right.
Before snorkeling at Hoai Bay, 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 Hoai Bay 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, Hoai Bay is the 11th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Kauai.