Southwest of Lihue and southeast of Koloa on Kauai, the snorkeling off Kipu Kai Beach is truly an exceptional experience in a beautiful location. During Kipu Kai snorkeling, you may encounter stingrays, zebra moray eels, yellowstripe cloris, cornetfish, goatfish, sea turtles, wrasse, parrotfish and convict tangs. From May through September, the surf off Kipu Kai 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.
Since Kipu Kai can only be reached by boat, you will need to find a snorkeling tour or charter a boat. Keep in mind that landing on the beach is prohibited. There are a couple of snorkel boat tours that run trips supposedly offering snorkeling offshore of Kipu Kai beach, but beware since their decision to go there is only made the morning of the trip. There are no guarantees, so if you really want to get there, you may have to charter your own boat. Alternately, some people choose to do the 3 hour sea kayak trip from Lihue.
Before snorkeling at Kipu Kai, 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 Kawailoa 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, Kipu Kai Beach is the 18th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Kauai.