It’s a beautiful day, and you’re snorkeling. Alone among the waves and the marine life, you’re enjoying the peace of swimming among creatures not of your everyday world – the world of traffic jams, screaming kids, and email.
When you see the beautiful coral ridges, you naturally want to touch them, if only to confirm that this awe-inspiring formation is real. So your caress it with your hand. No, it isn’t a curb waiting to bend scrape your hubcap. It’s what you suspected – an environmentally sensitive apartment complex for a host of fish and plants.
In fact, this reef is so inviting that you want to put your feet down to further anchor yourself to its splendor. As you do, a sea turtle paddles by and, just like that, you’re swimming after it. You want to catch it. Not to harm it, of course, but to touch it—to make sure that, like the reef, the turtle is real.
Nobody blames you for acting on any of the impulses while snorkeling. Hawaii’s waters are filled with some of the best snorkeling spots in the world – including the popular Ahihi-Kina’u conservation area in Makena – and wanting to get up-close-and-personal with everything under the water is understandable.
But don’t do it. Among other things, it can damage the fragile ecosystems you’re enjoying, as well as endanger yourself and the marine life. So, to enjoy the many snorkeling spots Hawaii has to offer while preserving them for future generations, please abide by the following simple rules:
1) Never touch the coral.
2) Never put your fee down while snorkeling near living systems.
3) Don’t chase or touch the sea turtles and maintain a five-foot distance.
4) Don’t snorkel alone. Always have a buddy, in case of an emergency.
Now that you know how to snorkel safely and sustainably, here are our favorite places to go:
1) Honolua Bay in Kapalua on Maui
2) Top of Tunnels Beach on Kauai
3) Waialua Bay on Oahu
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