A visit to Hawaii could not be complete without a snorkeling adventure. Very young children, even around the age of five, can learn to snorkel with success if they have general swimming skills and are very comfortable in the water.
Oahu offers some great locations for snorkeling all over the island. One of the best places for beginners is all the way at the north shore, at Kuilima Cove. The cove is incredibly sheltered by rocks, which means it offers very small waves, shallow waters, and crystal clear water. Park at the nearby Turtle Bay Hilton, and walk the short distance past their beach to the cove.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, located on the southeastern part of the island, is also a fantastic spot to take families. To help abate the crowds, visitors are now limited daily (so arrive early!). An entrance fee covers your parking and helps maintain the ecosystem. Visitors must watch a short video before snorkeling on how to carefully navigate the waters and shore without harming the environments. The fish are plentiful in this area of Hawaii, and new snorkelers are sure to get a thrill.
Shark’s Cove and Kahe Point Beach Park offer great snorkeling opportunities, but are not recommended for small children. Rocky entrance points, large waves, unpredictable swimming conditions, coupled with the lack of lifeguards make these spots exclusive for the advanced snorkeling crowd.
Some important tips to remember with children and snorkeling:
• Verify the fit of your child’s mask. If renting, ensure a snug fit before leaving the store. I can attest to the terrifying feeling of having water seep into a mask!! Try your hardest to avoid this problem.
• Have your child practice breathing through the mask well before jumping in the water. A clever idea is to start your lesson in the calm and controlled environment of a pool or bathtub.
• Consider using floatation devices when beginning so your child can safely float above the water without worrying about keeping themselves afloat.
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