Kaua’i, the geologically oldest main Hawaiian islands, inspired the creation of this project. Although countless coves, beaches, lagoons, waterfalls, and mountains make Kaua’i an incredibly biodiverse and beautiful island, we have listed a few of the most important locations for this project below. In particular, we have highlighted accessible lagoons and reefs around Kaua’i where it is possible to see the coral, fish, and marine life featured in this story.
1. Ke’e Beach – Located where the main road stops and the Na Pali coastline begins, Ke’e is protected by a reef that provides habitat to a variety of fish. Here, you might be able to see Humuhumu (Triggerfish), Kikakapu (Butterflyfish), Uhu (Parrotfish), and Palani (Surgeonfish). Ke’e is safest in the summer, as the winter swells often make it too dangerous for swimming, and as always, be wary of the currents.
Ke’e Beach is the start of the famous Kalalau trail and the walk to Hanakapi’ai Falls, and used to be the location of a famous hula school. On a cliff overlooking Ke’e, there is a heiau (sacred place) with a shrine dedicated to the hula goddess Laka.
2. Hideaway Beach (Pali Ke Kua) – Located at the edge of the Princeville community, Hideaway Beach is accessible by a steep and often muddy path. Hideaway is a popular surf spot and often has honu (turtles) eating algae off the reef. Similar to Ke’e, snorkeling is best in the summer when the waves are smaller. Be cautious of the strong currents here!
3. Anini Beach Lagoon – The largest fringing reef of all the Hawaiian islands, Anini offers some of the best and safest snorkeling in Kaua’i. With the expansive reef protecting it from big waves, Anini has the calmest water on the North Shore. Anini is also home to a large ‘turtle cleaning station,’ where honu come to be cleaned by smaller fish and feed on algae. Check out Terry Lilley’s video of two honu fighting over the best cleaning location at Anini in September of 2020.
4. Anahola Bay – Located on the east side of Kaua’i, Anahola Bay is a beautiful white-sand fringed bay that has an inner and outer reef. The water is calmest and the snorkeling is best on the eastern side of the bay.
5. Lawai Beach – Located in Poipu by restaurants and condominiums, Lawai Beach is very easy to access. At low-tide, there is a small sandy beach (pictured below), while high-tide sees the beach nearly disappear. The water is generally calm and there are a variety of fish and coral to see. Check out this video HRHF filmed of some curious kikakapu (Butterfly fish) at Lawai Beach.