Snorkeling off Kauai Island in Hawaii is a way any reasonably strong swimmer can enjoy a world of underwater adventure, full of colorful tropical fish and corals. However, snorkeling is also a way to put food on the table for a tasty seafood dinner, since spiny lobsters inhabit the holes and cracks of Kauai's corals and rocks. To turn a snorkeling trip into a lobster hunt, all a snorkeler needs to do is add some extra equipment, learn about lobster behavior, and follow Hawaii's fishing regulations.
1. Plan your snorkeling trip for after dark, and add a dive light to your snorkeling kit. Lobsters are nocturnal, so hunting for them at night greatly increases your chances of a catch.
2. Choose a Kauai snorkeling site with sheltered, enclosed waters and no boat traffic, such as Ke'e Beach. If you choose to snorkel in a less protected area, attach a light to your dive marker to increase its visibility and warn off boats.
3. Swim slowly above the rocks and reefs, scanning the bottom with your dive light and patrolling only in areas where you can clearly see the bottom from the surface.
4. Take a deep breath and dive down if you see a lobster, equalizing the pressure on your ears as needed by pinching your nose shut and blowing air into your nose.
5. Grab the lobster by planting your hand between the carapace (the mid-section) and the tail and pinning it down. Then lift the lobster and put it in your mesh bag.
6. Follow the lobster, if it happens to escape your grip, and use your tickle stick to force the lobster out of its hiding place. Grab it again between the carpace and the tail and bag it.
7. Return to the surface and measure the carapace of your lobster with a measuring tool or a small ruler. In Hawaii, the minimum size for a lobster is 3.25 inches. If your lobster is smaller than this, release it.
Items you will need
- Weight belt
- Dive light
- Dive marker with light (optional)
- Tickle stick
- Mesh bag
- Measuring tool or ruler
- Hawaii does not require either resident or visiting saltwater sport fishermen to have a state fishing license. This includes snorkelers hunting for lobsters.
- Taking spiny lobsters is banned between May and August.
- Using spears to take lobsters is banned under Hawaiian fishing regulations.
- Check to see if your chosen beach has any fishing regulations banning the taking of lobsters before you start your lobster hunt. If you are snorkeling from a public beach, this should be clearly signposted.
- Never follow a lobster into its hole with your hands. Creatures other than lobsters live in these holes, such as moray eels, and these creatures can bite your fingers off.
- Hawaiian Division of Aquatic Resources: Fishing - Common Questions
- Hawaiian Division of Aquatic Resources: How to Measure Fish and Invertebrates
- Outrigger; Kauai Reefs: Teeming with Life; Kim Steutermann Rogers
- Honolulu Advertiser; Hawaii Lobster, Crab Season Opens - With New Restrictions; September 2007.
- Kauai Explorer: Snorkeling Guide
- Florida Lobstering: Tickle Sticks
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images