Should I bring snorkel gear to Hawaii?

Hawaii snorkel fish

We are often asked if it’s a good idea to bring snorkel gear to Hawaii. Unless you already own good quality snorkel gear that you love and have the room to pack it in your luggage, you don’t really need to bring snorkel gear from home. With the cost of checked luggage, every inch of space in your baggage is very valuable. You must consider whether the space that snorkel gear uses in your luggage is worth it to you or not.

How can you use snorkel equipment in Hawaii if you don’t bring your own gear?

1. Most, if not all, Hawaii snorkel tour companies provide complimentary use of snorkel gear. In our experience, the equipment quality on snorkel tours has been very good. Most even offer masks with prescription lens.

2. Some Hawaii hotels provide complimentary use of snorkeling equipment. Check with your hotel before you pack.

3. Renting snorkel equipment in Hawaii is relatively cheap and easy. Your resort may offer snorkel equipment for rent. Snorkel Bob’s snorkel equipment sales and rental shops are found throughout Hawaii. They offer very basic snorkel equipment starting at $9 per week. It’s safer to snorkel in a group, however if you plan to snorkel on your own, we highly recommend renting and wearing a life vest.

4. Hawaii is a great place to shop for new snorkel equipment.

Do you bring your own snorkel gear when you travel to Hawaii?

Update: Since we originally wrote this article, we invested in purchasing our own mask and snorkel in order to get masks that fit our faces.

10 comments
  1. Aloha,
    I did like the article about whether or not to bring your own gear. I also run a small snorkel shop here on Kauai and it is already tough to compete with the chain stores (like Snorkel Bob’s) without additional advertising. You may wish to mention in a future article about the personal service and knowledge you can get from the smaller locally owned shops, while helping the monies earned from these small shops to stay on the island. Mahalo!

    1. Mahalo, Chris. Our mention of Snorkel Bob’s was by no means an endorsement or recommendation. I only mentioned them as an example because they are on all the major islands.

  2. We used to rent snorkel gear until we found it is not always handy or low cost. In Ko Olina they charge $20 a day for gear, so it was cost effective to purchase our own. We are aware of only one rental shop in that entire side of Oahu. If you like to snorkel every day as we do, it may be worth the trouble to take your own equipment.

  3. When we first visited back in the 70s, we rented gear from Snorkel Bob’s (at that time, about the only shop around) on a daily basis, then progressed to renting for our entire trip, and finally just purchased our rented gear. After that, we bought our own and it was worth packing just for the improved experience. Kahaluʻu Beach on the Big Island is just 2 miles from our condo, and they have a van that rents gear by the hour, which is really convenient for guests who only snorkel every few days. We think anyone who really gets into it will eventually want to buy & bring their own equipment. The difference between a well-fitting snorkel/mask with a good view area and one that leaks or is uncomfortable, can really make a difference to your enjoyment. ヅ

  4. We are serious snorkelers. We snorkel every day if weather allows it, and when out and about on any of the islands, we bring swim suits and snorkel gear (high end gear rented by the week) with us so we can check out new places. However we also pack light (no checked bags), so we agree with the idea of making room in our primary bags for other things by not flying with snorkel gear. Barry’s one exception is a light neoprene wet-suit top with long sleeves that helps with colder waters, sun protection, and buoyancy. It helps to stay out watching the fishes for longer periods of time. Found the used top on sale at Pacific Whale Foundation store on Maui.

  5. We brought snorkel gear for our family of five when we visited Oahu and Kona in July. Our girls are all under 14 and have small faces, so we wanted to bring their equipment that fits them well. Since I have gold status on United, we each could check in two bags each at no charge, for a total of 10 bags. Even with one roller suitcase packed with our snorkel gear, we still checked in only four bags. Hoping to come back to Hawaii in 2015.

  6. I always bring my own, something about not knowing who,s had the snorkel in their mouth before me and it doesn’t take that much space in my bag!

  7. On Maui there is a rental shop everywhere you turn, great service and weekly rental. We snorkel twice a day. But Oahu has only one shop and we rented for 8 people. Definitely not convenient but Ko Olina is $20 a day to rent. Why does the most populated island have only ONE Snorkel Bob?? I prefer the service of Boss Frogs on Maui.

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