Best Time to Snorkel in Hawaii: Uncover the Secret Season!

Oh, the wonders of snorkeling in Hawaii!

If you’re anything like me, exploring the vibrant and mesmerizing underwater world is an experience unlike any other. But did you know that there’s a perfect time for this magical adventure? That’s right – timing is key to truly appreciate Hawaii’s marine life in all its glory.

In my quest for aquatic discoveries, I’ve ventured to numerous Hawaiian islands with my boyfriend, determined to uncover the ideal snorkeling conditions. From sunlit shores to hidden coves, we’ve navigated them all – trust me when I say we’re seasoned pros at this point!

So, what have we learned from our years of expeditions? Well, one thing’s certain: there are good times and best times for snorkeling in Hawaii. And lucky for you, dear reader, I’m here to share those nuggets of wisdom gleaned from countless underwater escapades. After all, who wouldn’t want to witness vibrant coral reefs teeming with exotic fish and fascinating critters up close?

Warning: With great knowledge comes great responsibility…and perhaps an uncontrollable urge to book a flight to Hawaii ASAP!

In this article, you’ll discover not only the prime seasons and temperatures but also invaluable insight into how these factors shape your once-in-a-lifetime experience. By following my tried-and-true advice on when to embark on your Hawaiian snorkeling journey (hint: it might involve some elusive green turtles!), you’ll emerge as a true aficionado.

So let’s dive in and unlock the secrets of perfectly timed Hawaiian snorkeling adventures together!

Temperature and Waves – The Best water conditions

Best Water Temperature:

To be clear, the Hawaiian waters are warm enough all year for swimming and snorkeling. However there are warmer and colder seasons, and those looking for a more relaxing experience should choose the warmer water months. 

In general, the water temperatures in most of Hawaii range from 76°F to 83°F (which is much warmer than most of California). But the warmest times are during the summer months May through September. It is considered safe to swim and snorkel in most temperatures over 71°F (but let’s be clear, te the high seventies are a much better experience). 

Wave conditions:

It is safest and best to snorkel when the waters are calm without many ways. Even with a life vest, it is quite hard to see and keep your position when the swell is active. Due to big swells (especially in the North) Hawaii has some of the world’s best waves and conditions for professional surfing (between November and February). However, these months are not the best (or safest) for snorkeling. 

For calmest waters and the best snorkeling opportunities at all levels (whether out with a boat in the reef, or just off the beach) are in Spring months and Summer. Specifically from April to the end of September. There is the least wave action in this period, the waters are relatively calm and there is relatively little wind and rain.

Best weather conditions – Rainy season, air temperature, and wind conditions

Rainy season in Hawaii:

The months of November to March are considered the rainy season in Hawaii. That is, they are the wettest with the most precipitation. Of course, let’s not forget that this is a jungle area, and rain is common. Some rain is welcome, and on warm days you will have no problem snorkeling with a little rain. However, the Ocean and storms can be unpredictable, so during this season, it’s important to take precautions, lifevests, and experienced instructors. 

Air temperatures and wind conditions:

Though the air temperature in Hawaii is generally tropical and warm, they are known for trade winds. The north-eastern wind is most prevalent in winter months, which are followed by rain. These winter months are ideal for whale watching, dolphins, and surfing, but less so for calm activities like snorkeling. 

Since January is the coldest month in Hawaii, the snorkel lover should look to visit from April to October. Still, Oahu and Maui have some great protected coves that offer great snorkeling year-round. Visitors who are uncomfortable with temperatures going up to 90°F will prefer visiting in cooler months during the Spring and Fall. 

When to enjoy the best snorkeling in Hawaii

Snorkeling can be enjoyed all over Hawaii year-round. Still, those looking for calm warm weather will enjoy visiting from Spring until the end of Fall. In the winter months snorkeling fans can still enjoy snorkeling in calmer areas of Maui and Oahu, and as a bonus get to enjoy whale and dolphin watching, along with large green turtles and seals. 

Conclusion on the best time to snorkel in Hawaii:

In choosing when to snorkel in Hawaii there are many factors to consider. These paradise islands offer so many activities and quality snorkeling all year round – that it’s almost impossible to make a mistake.

No matter when you visit, there are still great and unique locations to experience top snorkeling for beginners and advanced snorkelers. However, those truly looking for the riches of marine life, calm waters, perfect temperatures, and more should take into account my advice. 

After all, I have experienced Hawaii all year long.


What is the best time to go snorkeling in Hawaii?

Generally, the best time to go snorkeling is in the morning up to early afternoon. The reason is, that generally the earlier you start (after its day out) the more creatures you will see. There are several reasons for this, including the habits of the fish, the crowd, movement inside the water, and more. Early-rising snorkelers will be able to see more tropical fish and some small predators, before they move into the deeper waters during the day, and before crowds and commotion scare them away. 

Is it better to snorkel in Hawaii in the morning or afternoon?

It’s always best to snorkel in the morning. If you can get up earlier, while the beaches and snorkeling spots are still empty, and there is more peace and quiet, the entire experience will be more rewarding. Not to mention you will increase your chances of seeing more fish and animals (including large animals like green turtles, dolphins, and seals). 

What to avoid while snorkeling in Hawaii?

When snorkeling in Hawaii you must be cautious not to touch anything (especially the coral) for your own and the animal’s safety. Coral is incredibly fragile and can be easily damaged. 

Also give the fish their space, so that you can observe them longer. No need for crowding and touching the animals (especially endangered species like green turtles and seals, which can get sick from our germs and viruses). 

When snorkeling also makes sure you are at your comfort level. There are plenty of amazing spots to snorkel for beginners and in the shallow, so make sure to stay safe. 

Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by Brigitte