While getting up close and personal with wild sea life might not at first seem like the safest or most kid-friendly thing to do while on vacation, Hawaii beaches are actually like a giant playground, with some pretty unforgettable memories in store. Sure, you can snorkel around any tropical locale, but only in Hawaii will you learn about the traditional Hawaiian significance of these creatures as ʻaumakua, or deities that can be called upon for protection, comfort, and spiritual support. The ancient Hawaiians believed that all creatures are to be valued and have a rightful place in the ecosystem, and that is why they are held in such high regard today.
On arrival, it’s easy to book a chartered tour or guide and explore the depths of the sea. It entirely depends on how adventurous you feel that day. Get advice from your hotel concierge about less frequented Hawaii beaches—or even better, any local will point you in the right direction. You can take it easy and enjoy a calm day at one of Oahu’s beaches with your neighborhood turtle friends or take a wild ride with sharks and get that much-coveted adrenaline rush. Whatever you choose, rest assured that you’ll witness the beauty and awe of what lies beneath at these notable sites.
Located on the Kona coast of Hawaii Island just around the corner from the westernmost point, Keahole Point, you will find Manta Heaven. This supreme dive site is the only one of its kind—a feeding site for wild manta rays. Attracted to the dive lights placed in the natural sand chute, manta rays gather around the planktonic marine life that concentrate in the water near the shoreline. By day, soak up the sun rays at one of the most historic Hawaii beaches, and at night, witness the majesty of these graceful creatures as they glide and circle through the waters like a dance among the stars.
Getting to know one of the ocean’s most infamous and misunderstood predators is just the icing on the cake during a shark-sighting tour out from Haleiwa, one of Oahu’s most famous beaches. Along the way, observe wild marine life ranging from sea turtles to spinner dolphin—and even humpback whales, if you’re lucky. But, once the bubbles have settled, prepare for the thrill of your lifetime. Choose from two options—cage or no cage—and watch as Galapagos, sandbar, and tiger sharks fill your view along with the deep open blue.
Perched like a crescent moon in the middle of the Pacific between Maui and Kahoolawe islands is a small islet known as Molokini. The visible land is actually the tip of a circular, volcanic caldera, which is said to be the result of a volcanic eruption dating back 230,000 years. Today, the waters surrounding Molokini make ideal snorkeling spots, accessible only by boat from Maalaea Harbor on Maui. Book a tour with Redline Rafting and experience all that this ancient crater has to offer with highlights like Turtle Town in La Perouse Bay where green sea turtles frolic along the water’s surface, Hawaiian spinner dolphin sightings, and world-famous Maui cinnamon rolls, which make the trip even sweeter.