Papohaku Beach Park Snorkeling

The 4th most popular snorkel dive spot in Molokai.

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On the west end of Molokai, the Papohaku Beach has one of the largest sand beaches in Hawaii. This quiet beach is also known for its excellent snorkeling if you hit it right. Since it is unprotected by a fringing reef, it is best in the summer months when the surf is hopefully calmer. Also, since there is so much sand, it is best on windless days when the wind isn’t kicking up sand in the air while you are trying to get your gear ready on the beach. Watch out for prickers while walking to the beach and also on the beach in the sand.

Papohaku Beach Park is located off Kaluakoi Road on the west coast of Molokai. To reach the snorkeling at Kawakiu Beach from Kaunakakai, head west on Highway 460 past the airport turnoff towards Maunaloa. Turn right heading north on Kalua Koi Road and follow for several miles to the signed Papohaku Beach Park turn.

While Molokai does have several good shore-accessed snorkeling spots, the best Molokai snorkeling is found off-shore along the 25 mile fringing reef. This coral reef crests about a half-mile off the southern and eastern coastline; the northwest wavefronts are too powerful for fringing reefs along the northern and western coastline. There are extremely healthy corals and excellent water clarity just outside the crest. The reef consists of green lobe coral, antler coral, cauliflower coral, finger coral and blue rice coral. From the Kaunakakai Harbor on the south coast, there is a snorkel boat tour that regularly heads out to one of 25+ dive sites on the fringing reef, usually in the morning when the winds are calms. It is a 20-35 minute boat ride out to the snorkel spots where the mooring is in 8-12 foot deep water. The water clarity ranges from 50 to 150 feet and the water temperature ranges from 70 to 80 degrees. The best time of year is from May through September. During Molokai snorkeling, you may encounter spinner dolphins, green sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, octopus, butterflyfish, parrotfish, wrasse, surgeonfish, triggerfish and the occasional monk seal.

To reach the snorkeling on Molokai, you’ll need to arrive on island by an interisland flight from Oahu provided by Hawaiian Airlines. There are several flights per day. While there used to be a ferry boat service from Lanai and Maui, it was discontinued in October 2016. It is best to rent a car to explore the various snorkeling spots, but keep in mind there is only one national rental car agency at the airport and one locally run rental car company. When planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands, be aware that the State Of Hawaii has banned all sunscreens that oxybenzone, which has been proven to kill coral reefs.

Overall, Papohaku Beach Park is the 4th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 11 snorkeling dives in Molokai.


Local Contact(s):  Papohaku Beach Park (808) 553-3204; Moloka'I Visitors (808) 553-3876; Molokai Fish And Dive, Kaunakakai (808) 553-5926.

Recommended Book:  "Snorkel Molokai" from Judy Malinowski

Recommended Map:  "Molokai Dive Map" from Franko Maps

Best Season:  May - Sep

Average Difficulty:  Moderate

Base Camp:  Papohaku Beach Park onsite camping; Dunbar Beachfront Cottages; Hotel Molokai

Luxury Loding:  None

Breakfast Restaurant:  Kanemitsu's Bakery; Kualapu'u Cookhouse

Reference Source:  click here

Article Source:   Best Papohaku Beach Park Snorkeling Review

GPS:  21.176497, -157.253707

Date Published:  12/30/2011

Date Updated:  4/30/2018

ID:  23683

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Papohaku Beach Park Snorkeling Map


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