On the southern tip of Lanai, Kaunolu Bay is considered the best snorkeling spot on Lanai. Also known as Shark Fin Cove, it is located off an ancient abandoned Hawaiian fishing village. This snorkeling spot is not to be confused with Sharks Bay which is located just east of Manele Bay / Hulope'e Beach. Kaunolu Beach is accessible via a very rough 4WD dirt road from La...
On the southern tip of Lanai, Kaunolu Bay is considered the best snorkeling spot on Lanai. Also known as Shark Fin Cove, it is located off an ancient abandoned Hawaiian fishing village. This snorkeling spot is not to be confused with Sharks Bay which is located just east of Manele Bay / Hulope'e Beach. Kaunolu Beach is accessible via a very rough 4WD dirt road from Lanai City or by a snorkel tour boat (about 20 minutes past Hulopo'e Bay).
At Kaunolu Bay, there are three distinct snorkeling spots that include the large main bay, an offshore fin-shaped rock, and the narrow U-shaped cove to the east. The water depths range from 10 to 50 feet deep, and the water clarity ranges from 25-75 feet depending upon conditions. While snorkeling Kaunolu Bay, you may encounter Pyramid Butterflyfish, parrotfish, plentiful octopus on rocks, eagle rays, manta rays, spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and even the occasional whale shark. There is normally good snorkeling here yearround unless the wind or surf is high.
To reach the snorkeling on Lanai by air, you can use one of the inter-island flights on regional carriers into Lanai Airport (LNY). These flights are normally available from Honolulu (HNL) and Maui (OGG).
Alternately, there is a regular passenger ferry service from Lahaina harbor dock (Maui) into Manele Small Boat Harbor (Lanai) provided by Expeditions Maui-Lanai City Ferry.
Once you arrive on Lanai, there is only one rental car company (Dollar Rent-A-Car) and the rates for a jeep are roughly $200 per day. Sometime, the Dreams Come True Bed and Breakfast in Lanai City has a couple less expensive jeeps available.
To drive to Kaunolu Village, you will need a four-wheel drive vehicle. From Lanai City, head west on SR440 towards Kaumalapau Harbor. Past the airport, turn left on Kaupili Road (an unmarked dirt road). After about 2.5 miles, turn right at the yellow standpipe on the right. Continue south on a very rough, rocky road descending 3 miles down to Kaunolu Village. There is a rough trail down to the cove.
If you are not planning to stay on Lanai, then another option is a day snorkeling tour from Lahina, Maui. The challenge is that most of the tour companies are pretty cagey about where they exactly go snorkeling on Lanai. Recently, some of these companies are just doing a single snorkeling spot on the Lanai coast and then returning for a second stop back on Maui, which doesn't make much sense. The most reliable option seems to be Sail Trilogy, but it is recommended to ask a lot of questions prior to booking and then again prior to the cancelation date.
PRO TIP: When planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands, be aware that the State Of Hawaii has banned all sunscreens that oxybenzone. It has been proven to kill coral reefs.
Overall, Kaunolu Bay is the 3rd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 4 snorkeling dives in Lanai.
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