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On Hawaii snorkel cruises, seasoned outfitters know exactly where to take travelers for some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii.
Sure, snorkeling from shore has its own merits. It’s cheaper than a tour, and shoreline snorkelers can control how much time they want to dedicate to the activity.
But on a multi-hour snorkel cruise, guests benefit from the savvy of the staff, who power their vessels to prime snorkeling meccas brimming with colorful fish and other sea creatures.
And, snorkel cruisers enjoy dramatic views from sea, providing new perspectives on their vacation destination.
During a cruise, congenial crew members teach clients the ins and outs of snorkeling, making sure everyone is safe and comfortable in the water. Masks, snorkels and fins are provided, as are paddle boards and floating noodles for novices.
When passengers aren’t snorkeling, they find an equally lively scene onboard the boat, with food, drinks and sometimes even music as part of the package.
Following are five Hawaii firms offering exceptional cruises to snorkel sanctuaries around the islands.
Blue Water Rafting (Maui)Of Maui’s many snorkel cruises, this one stands out because it takes clients by power raft to the less-visited Kanaio Coast on the island’s southeast side. Fish frolic in underwater lava landscapes with grottos, pinnacles and sea caves, and spinner dolphins, eagle rays and sea turtles make frequent appearances. www.bluewaterrafting.com
Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides (Hawaii Island)This reliable enterprise has been charting a course to the marine conservation district of Kealakekua Bay for decades. Exceptional snorkel cruises are available on its two catamarans: the 60-foot Fair Wind II with two 15-foot water slides; and the newer 55-foot Hula Kai, which stops at two snorkel sites.www.fair-wind.com
Na Pali Catamaran (Kauai)Most of Kauai’s snorkel cruises depart from Port Allen on the southwest shore. Na Pali Catamaran is popular because it leaves from Hanalei Bay to the north, offering views of the famed Na Pali sea cliffs almost immediately. Prime snorkeling awaits at Nualolo Kai — only accessible by boat — whose protective reef attracts oodles of fish.www.napalicatamaran.com
Trilogy Excursions (Maui)This family-run firm caters to a wide market. Consider its convenient snorkel tour in Kaanapali’s protected waters. Join its sail to the submerged volcanic crater of Molokini, famed for aquatic splendors. Or sign up for its cruise to neighboring Lanai that comes with snorkeling in a marine preserve, an island tour and barbecue feast.www.sailtrilogy.com
Wild Side Specialty Tours (Oahu)Based in west Oahu, these eco-friendly tours emphasize intimacy, education and fun. Environmentally-friendly boats and knowledgeable biologists add to its allure. Clients get plenty of time in the water alongside wild dolphins, coral reef fish and sea turtles. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience among Hawaii snorkel cruises.www.sailhawaii.com