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Snorkeling on the South Shore

Snorkeling on the South Shore


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 08/22/2017
Posted On 05/16/2018 18:49:50

Destinations | Hawaii | Kauai | Snorkeling | Lifeguard | Salt Pond Beach Park | Poipu Beach



With tomorrow being our final day on Kauai (and already a fully planned day), we took advantage of our last opportunity to snorkel this afternoon. We again "checked out" beach chairs from our hotel before we headed down to the south shore.

If swimming and/or snorkeling are on your radar, and you have transportation plus time (several hours if you want to hit more than one spot), read on for a couple of options. The post below will give you an overview of our experience at two beaches - neither of which charge an entrance fee. Depending on when you visit, you may get lucky by avoiding huge crowds.

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Salt Pond Beach Park

Our first stop was at Salt Pond Beach Park, a life guarded beach with restrooms, showers and even some covered cabanas. The name "Salt Pond" is derived from the salt which forms naturally in the man made salt beds and is produced by Hawaiians for both cooking and medicinal needs.


Salt Pond Beach Park

Salt Pond Beach Park

Although not very crowded early this Tuesday afternoon, the protective barrier, clear water and calm swimming conditions are known to make the beach especially good for kids. If today's windy conditions were any indication of the norm, I can understand why Salt Pond Beach Park is also popular for both surfing and wind surfing. We found a spot closer to the barrier and got in the water hoping to see some cool fish. While there were some interesting and colorful fish, they were few and far between.


Angel Fish

Angel Fish


Colorful Fish, but not Plentiful!

Colorful Fish, but not Plentiful!


Needlefish

Needlefish

Poipu Beach

After relaxing on our chairs and partially drying off, we decided to take a road trip to the nearby Poipu Beach. While Salt Pond Beach was not very crowded, relatively quiet and had very few people enjoying the water, Poipu Beach lived up to its reputation as the most popular south shore beach. With lifeguards, as well as both restroom and shower facilities, Poipu Beach had people of all ages relaxing and soaking up the sun as well as participating in a variety of water sports including boogie-boarding, snorkeling, surfing, swimming and just plain wading in the water to cool off.


Poipu Beach - the Most Popular South Shore Beach

Poipu Beach - the Most Popular South Shore Beach

After a bit of people watching, we decided to join the activity in the water and check out the snorkeling. While the water was much more crowded than Salt Pond, it was not unbearable. My guess, however, is that the crowds are much larger on weekends. We entered the water and swam away from the tombolo (the bar of sand joining the tiny island to the mainland), hoping to still see some water life while avoiding the bigger crowd.


More Angel Fish

More Angel Fish

While we did see some fish, we realized that as we got closer to the tombolo, there was a wider variety of fish and the fish were more plentiful.


Lots of Fish Species

Lots of Fish Species


Sergeant Major Fish and More

Sergeant Major Fish and More

Since we had already spent time in the water while at Salt Pond Beach, we agreed that it was probably time to dry off. As our chairs were on the right side of the tombolo (when on the beach facing the water), we swam over the sand bar with the intention of exiting the water. Once we were across, we spotted even more fish, so instead of our planned exit, we swam among the fish for a while longer.


More plentiful Fish right of the Tombolo . . .

More plentiful Fish right of the Tombolo . . .


. . . and even some larger Fish!

. . . and even some larger Fish!

After some more people watching following our return to our chairs, we finally packed up our gear and headed toward the car so we could find dinner. The outdoor shower was the perfect end to a fun day of snorkeling - it was right on our way to the car and helped us to leave most of the sand that gravitated to our bodies at the beach, rather than taking it back to our hotel and eventually back to Texas!

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Tips for Snorkeling on Kauai's South Shore

Here are a few tips for some Kauai South Shore snorkeling fun:
  • Although the fish at Salt Pond Beach Park were less abundant during our visit, the beach was much less crowded. If your goal is to avoid crowds, Salt Pond is likely a better option than Poipu. If the wind is not strong on the day during which you visit, it would likely be a good option for beginning snorkelers as well.
  • Before traveling to Hawaii, consider packing your own snorkel gear.
  • Before heading to either beach, grab your beach chairs, or at minimum a beach blanket, as well as some towels. (If you are staying in a hotel or AirBnb, check to see if they are available to check out for your stay - or at least for the day.)
  • Bring your underwater camera! If you don't have one, consider buying an inexpensive one like we did. It's so much more fun to be able to show others the digital memories of all of the colorful fish that you found. (We've had the same underwater camera since 2012 which we take on every vacation where there is a possibility of a water adventure - and the camera is still going strong!)

Ho'opi'i Falls

If you are more interested in swimming than snorkeling, and are up for a hike to get to a swimming hole, take a look at our post titled "Waterfalls in Northeast Kauai" for an option that may interest you.

Best Snorkeling Ever

Of any location in the world, where have you had the best snorkeling experience - and what made it so good?




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Snorkeling on the South Shore







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