Southwest of Lihue and southeast of Koloa in Keoniloa Bay, the snorkeling at Shipwreck Beach off the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort offers diverse marine life over the rocky sea floor. The Hyatt house reef offers encounters with diverse reef fish including wrasse, parrotfish, butterflyfish and moorish idols along with green sea turtles.
Shipwreck Beach at Keoniloa Bay is completely unprotected and exposed to ocean surf. So, it will take a very calm surf day with no wind in order to snorkel here, and then it is still a moderately challenging dive. The best snorkeling is at the east end of the beach under the cliff formation. From May through September, the surf off Shipwreck 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, 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 Shipwreck Beach snorkeling from Koloa, head south on Poipu Road. Just past the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort, turn right heading south on Ainako Street. At the end of the street, there is a free public parking area available for about twenty cars.
Before snorkeling at the Hyatt Kauai, 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 Shipwreck 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, Shipwreck Beach is the 21st most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Kauai.