Snorkeling Koloa Landing – Large Coral Heads, Fish, and Turtles

Kauai, Hawaii

Snorkeling Koloa Landing is not from a beach. It is an old boat ramp that is not used for motorboat launching anymore, just for the Hawaiian outrigger canoes. The snorkeling can be great and this is one of the few locations on Kauai where you can easily see large healthy coral heads, so if the conditions are good, we highly recommend it. Koloa Landing is also an extremely popular diving location.

Note: This page is a sample from our popular Kauai Snorkeling Guide eBook available here.

Big healthy corals and lots of fish, seen while snorkeling Koloa Landing.

Being on the south shore of Kauai, snorkeling Koloa Landing is generally better in the winter season. In the summer Hawaii can get a south swell that makes the snorkeling dangerous. It is always variable though, so check a conditions report before you go.

If it has been raining a lot lately, consider another location. The visibility on the surface here can be really affected by the stream that enters the inlet to the right of the ramp. High stream flow can cause very low visibility, making snorkeling Koloa Landing much less fun.

Because boats used to come in and out of here, it gets deep fairly quickly, so you snorkel the rock wall edges along a deep drop-off. If this kind of snorkeling makes you nervous, skip this spot.

Koloa Landing right side shoreline
Koloa Landing right side shoreline.

Water Entrance for Snorkeling Koloa Landing

You enter the water from the old boat ramp. It is an uneven and slippery surface, so footwear is a good idea. Then, switch to your fins once you can float.

Boat ramp and lower parking at Koloa Landing.

Where to Snorkel

Once in the water you can choose to snorkel along one side or the other. We recommend you snorkel out one side, not far past the rocky point, then back the way you came. The swim across the bay is fairly long and boring because it drops off to a deep sandy bottom. The snorkeling Koloa Landingarea isn’t so big that it would be too much of a swim to explore both sides in one snorkel.

We usually swim out about 800 feet on the left side and 500 feet on the right side. Keep in mind as you swim farther out that you are in more exposed ocean. So wind or waves, surge, and current are things to keep a watch on.

Spotted Eagle Ray seen while snorkeling at Koloa Landing.

Blurry Fish, Rotten Colors, Garbage Pictures

That does not look like what I saw! See our snorkeling camera pages for tips on selecting a good snorkeling camera, and how to use it for great pictures.

Large mixed school of tropical fish at Koloa Landing.

There is a small area in the center near the ramp and along the shoreline particularly to the right side that stays relatively shallow, 5-15 feet. But as you swim farther out, or follow the shoreline further, the ocean floor drops steeply away to 30 or more feet. The area is made up of boulders, small to large, with some covered in colorful coral heads. The left side seems to have better corals than the right. Turtles are common and there are usually good numbers of fish.

If you enjoy to freedive, this is a great spot. Freediving down the side of the wall around the big coral encrusted boulders is a great experience.

As stated above, the visibility for snorkeling Koloa Landing is dependent on the stream flow, but waves, wind and surge are factors too, but if it is a calm day and it hasn’t been raining, you should have good visibility.

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What We Saw While Snorkeling Koloa Landing

We have seen turtles every time we have snorkeled this spot and there are the vibrant Red Pencil Urchins in residence. We also saw good numbers of fish, in decent variety while snorkeling Koloa Landing.

Red Slate Pencil Urchin at Koloa Landing
Dragon Moray Eel we spotted at Koloa Landing


  • Angelfish, Potter’s
  • Butterflyfish: Bluestripe, Forceps, Fourspot, Lined, Multiband, Ornate, Raccoon, Teardrop
  • Chromis, Blackfin
  • Chub
  • Coris, Yellowtail
  • Eel: Dragon Moray, Stout Moray
  • Emperor, Bigeye
  • Goatfish: Doublebar, Manybar, Yellowfin, Yellowstripe
  • Gregory, Hawaiian
  • Grouper, Peacock
  • Hawkfish: Arc-Eye, Freckled, Stocky
  • Hogfish, Hawaiian
  • Moorish Idol
  • Needlefish, Keeltail
  • Parrotfish: Bullethead, Redlip
  • Scad, Bigeye – school
  • Sergeant: Blackspot, Hawaiian
  • Snapper: Blacktail, Bluestripe – schools
  • Soldierfish, Bigscale
  • Surgeonfish: Goldring, Orangeband, Ringtail, Whitebar, Whitespotted
  • Tang: Achilles, Convict, Lavender, Sailfin, Yellow
  • Toby, Hawaiian Whitespotted
  • Triggerfish: Black, Bridled, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Lei, Pinktail – many
  • Trumpetfish – many
  • Unicornfish: Bluespine, Orangespine
  • Wrasse: Bird, Christmas, Hawaiian Cleaner, Saddle
Resting Green Sea Turtle at Koloa Landing


  • Antler
  • Cauliflower
  • Finger
  • Lobe
  • Mound
  • Rice

Other Creatures:

  • Eagle Ray, Spotted
  • Sea Cucumber, Whitespotted
  • Sea Urchin: Black Rock-Boring, Blue-Black, Pale Rock-Boring, Red Slate Pencil
  • Turtle – many
  • Zoanthid, Pillow

Driving Directions

1. From Hwy 50 (Kaumuali’i Hwy) head south on Hwy 520 (Maluhia Road) follow this into Koloa, where you will turn right on Koloa Road.

2. Turn left on Po’ipu Road.

3. Follow Po’ipu Road to the traffic circle where you will take your second right onto Lawa’i Road.

4. Quickly to your left will be Hoonani Road. Turn here and go a short distance and just at the bend in the road on the right is a dirt area for parking and a dirt road to the water.

Upper parking and road to Koloa Landing.


There are portable toilets in the lower parking lot.

Lower parking and portable toilets at Koloa Landing.

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