Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities in Hawaii. Whether right of the beach in Ka'anapali or Wailiki, or on an excursion that involves exploring deeper parts of the ocean through snorkeling or scuba diving, there are rules that you should follow.
Snorkeling allows visitors to experience the magnificence and diversity of the island's underwater habitat. However, uniformed or careless ocean enthusiasts can damage ancient coral reefs in a matter of minutes.
Snorkelers must be aware of Hawaii's snorkeling protocols and best practices to ensure safety, protect the marine environment, and minimize their impact on the delicate ecosystem.
Whether you're a newbie or a skilled snorkeler, this guide will help you maximize your Hawaii snorkeling adventure while being a responsible and mindful participant in ecotourism. So now, let's go beneath the surface.
Avoid all types of pollutants.
Prevent any form of pollution and do not engage in any activities that can lead to pollution. This includes not bringing littering, wearing harsh cosmetics, and or reef-hazardous sunscreens.
Emptying your pockets before diving is a must. If you need to carry cash or any valuables with you, it is advisable to use a waterproof snorkel bag or case.
Have you heard about Hawaii banning sunscreens inside the state? Yes, that is true, but they only banned sunscreens that are harmful to the environment. Chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate are strictly prohibited. Instead, use reef-friendly mineral sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. You could be fined if you did not adhere to this protocol, so the choice is easy!
The Maui County Mineral Only Sunscreen information page contains more information on the the sunscreen ban and why it's important to please kokua or "pitch in" to help ensure Maui stays beautiful above and below water. Also, the read about hawaii reef conservation tips with your group before you arrive in the Islands.
Also, minimize the use of cosmetics and lotions before snorkeling, as they contain harmful chemicals that can damage marine life and contribute to pollution.
Follow designated snorkeling routes.
Avoid swimming in areas where snorkeling is prohibited. It is an important part of proper reef snorkeling etiquette. Snorkeling routes are designated to ensure the safety of snorkelers and to protect marine life and coral reefs. These routes are usually marked with buoys or signs, and they may lead to areas with the most vibrant marine life, underwater caves, or shipwrecks. Additionally, following the marked routes ensures that snorkelers stay in safe areas where the water is not too deep or too rough, minimizing the risk of accidents or injury.
Choose tour guides who prioritize sustainability and promote environmentally responsible practices.
Go for tour guides who consider their commitment to sustainability. A responsible and ethical tour guide will prioritize the protection of the marine ecosystem and promote sustainable practices that preserve the environment for future generations.
By choosing a tour guide who promotes sustainability, snorkelers can enjoy a responsible and ethical snorkeling experience that not only protects the marine environment but also supports local conservation efforts.
Avoid touching the coral reef.
You can sing "Can't keep my hands to Myself" by Selena Gomez all day, but it's an absolute no-no when snorkeling. Being too near the protected corals is also not allowed because you might accidentally kick corals or unintentionally disturb sand sediments, which might cover and smother corals.
The coral reef is a fragile ecosystem that is easily damaged by human activity, and even small disturbances can have significant and long-lasting impacts on the ecosystem.
It's important to avoid touching or standing on the fragile coral reef during snorkeling excursions. This means being aware of your body position and movements while in the water and avoiding any contact with the coral or other marine life. By respecting the delicate balance of the marine environment and taking steps to protect it, snorkelers can help to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of the coral reef ecosystem.
Refrain from collecting any marine life.
This includes starfish, corals, shells, and rocks, as it can upset the balance of the ecosystem. It is an essential aspect of proper reef snorkeling etiquette.
Removing or collecting marine life can upset the delicate balance of the marine environment. Furthermore, many species of marine life, including shells and rocks, are protected by law, and removing them can result in fines and penalties.
Also, some marine life can be quite dangerous to touch, so better safe than sorry!
Discovering the beauty of Hawaii's ocean secrets is an unforgettable experience, but it's important to do it responsibly. Please educate yourself on the marine life and ecosystem of the area you are snorkeling in to better understand how to protect it.
Remember to respect the environment, and keep a safe distance from the marine environment. It's equally important to teach children how to treat the ocean respectfully when they start snorkeling.
With these simple steps, we can all do our part to preserve the natural beauty of Hawaii's underwater world for generations to come. Happy snorkeling!