Mauna Kea Beach Kaunaoa Bay
Recognized for its white sands and possibility of manta ray sightings, this is a sight you shouldnt miss! Kaunaoa Bay holds the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, which is where the name is derived. The public beach access is through the hotel gate, where you can receive a parking pass, but we recommend arriving early as space tends to be limited with only 10 parking spaces! When the conditions are good, visibility and snorkeling can be fantastic. Enter the water from either side of the bay near the rocky points through the sand, then swim out past the shallow corals to access stunningly beautiful reefs teeming with life.
This is another location to spot manta rays! The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel shines bright lights into the water in the evening to attract plankton, and often manta rays do come to feed. Hop in the water around Manta Ray Point just after sunset for a chance to see these magnificent creatures. Please, be extra careful at night and keep an eye on the shore.
Mauna Kea Beach was named one of The Worlds All Time Best Beaches by Travel Channel, rightfully deserves the recognition with its stunning white sand beach!
Two Steps Aka Honaunau Bay
We love this west shore cove for the fact that you can see the coral heads from shore. This site teems with life, from peacock grouper and pufferfish to schools of butterflyfish and goatfish.
Here, youll possibly spy an octopus, especially if you know to look for that knobby eye and hyphen-like pupil. On occasion, sea horses have also been seen here.
Kealakekua Bay 17 Miles South Of Kona
Kealakekua bay is an underwater marine sanctuary where you can find many colorful exotic fish and often also dolphins and sea turtles. To get here you have to drive approximately 13 miles south from Kona along Highway 11 and then follow the Npopoo Road to the end.
The bay is also know as Captain Cook, after a 27-foot tall monument commemorating the death of the British explorer Captain Cook at this bay on February 14th, 1779.
Napoopoo Beach is a small rocky beach in the Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. Image credit: Nnachappa64 Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
The center of the bay is deep and you can often find a pod of spinner dolphins playing around here. There are plenty of good spots for snorkeling in the bay, but the best snorkeling spot is on the opposite side of the bay from the parking area, close to the captain Cook monument.
Getting to the other side of the bay on your own is difficult, and there are 3 sensible ways to get to the snorkeling spot: hiking, renting a kayak, or with a boat tour. You can read more about these 3 ways in our guide to Kealakekua Bay or keep reading for a short summary below.
Kealakekua bay is a 1-mile wide bay close to the town of Captain Cook on the Big Island. The best snorkeling is on the north side of the bay. Image credit: google maps
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Big Island Snorkeling Safety Tips
Many of the best snorkel spots are exposed. Yes, you can find a handful of snorkel spots on the Big Island that are fairly protected in small bays. But the majority of the great snorkeling happens around rocky points between beaches, and in open ocean along shorelines. That means that you are more exposed to wind or waves, surge, and currents.
It can be windy! Although not as windy as Maui, the Big Island, like all the islands, experiences regular trade winds that generally blow out of the east. This is the main reason that most of the best snorkeling is on the west side .
So the rule of thumb is to go snorkeling as early in the mornings as you can, because the winds tend to pick up as you approach noon even on the west side. These trade winds also deposit lots of moisture and rain on the east side of the island, which is another reason why the better snorkeling is in the west. You will be amazed how different the west side is from the east. One side is almost a desert, and the other side is a tropical rain forest.
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Kailua Bay Downtown Kona Pier
Depth 10-25ft 3-7m
Located in the heart of town this spot is the home of the Ironman world championship race start and finish. Swimmers are often using the buoy system along shore to get a workout. In recent months the state has begun restricting access to the pier area so its best to stay near the swim lane and out of boat traffic. Weve heard stories of people swimming and 2 whales show up on either side of the swimmer. Or a pod of dolphins will appear out of no-where.
See the Dark Spots? Those are schools of Akule Fish tightly packed.
Kailua Bay can have poor visibility because it has a fair amount of sandy bottom. This brings in some interesting critters like tritons trumpets, goatfish, moi , and dolphins. One of the most unique sights that Kailua Bay offers over all of the others is the akule school which often frequents the area. Akule are a silvery baitfish that school in massive tight balls. They like the shallows and its really a delight to swim through them as they flow around you. Truly a unique experience. If you need snorkeling gear or a paddle board to take advantage of this unique spot head across the street to Alii Adventures.
Join Hawaiis Top Rated and Most reviewed snorkel company for some of Hawaiis best snorkeling. We make it easy to find the best snorkeling in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii that are inaccessible from shore.
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When To Go Snorkeling The Big Island
There are two main seasons in Hawaii. The summer, from May to October, is the warmest, driest and sunniest season . This is the hurricane season, but they are rare in the North Pacific.
In winter, from November to April, the weather is wetter and more changeable , and the air is cooler .
As so often in tropical islands, the climate is different on the windward side, more humid and windy , and on the leeward side, where it is dryer and more sheltered . The sea is generally calm on the western shore of Big Island, but swell or waves can occur in certain periods. Do not enter the water is the sea gets rough.
Hawaii Big Island Snorkeling Places Best 10 Spots To Visit
The Big Island of Hawaii has something for everyone, such as local art, scenic hiking and biking trails, hot lava, and over 250 miles of coastline where you will find white, black, and even green sand. Beyond the stunning beaches, there are spectacular coral reefs where the inhabitants come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Visitors can be as adventurous as they want: swim with turtles, manta rays or simply enjoy the natural beauty and the extraordinary sunsets. If you love exploring the oceans beauty, view amazing marine life by visiting some of the best Big Island snorkeling spots!
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Does The Big Island Of Hawaii Have Good Snorkeling
There are ten best snorkeling spots on Big Island Hawaii. The Big Island of Hawaii has arguably some of the best snorkeling sites in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The western part of the island is home to a diverse range of coral reef fish, large marine life, and sheltered volcanic bays.
Big Island is the largest island in the Hawaiian Islands. Aside from its enormous size, it also offers a plethora of sights and activities to enjoy. As a result, the drier part of the island gets less rain, so the water remains clear. Corals and reef fish thrive in a variety of sheltered volcanic bays that are ideal for growing corals. Kahluu Beach Park, on Big Island, has some of the best snorkeling. There are reef fish, octopus, eels, and coral heads in abundance at Mauna Lani Beach. Magic sands can be seen at Laaloa, and the sand appears or disappears with the tide.
It is a popular snorkeling spot on Big Island. The shallows at the northern end of the beach offer excellent sightings, while the deeps at the southern end require a long swim to fish and coral. Honokohau Beach is a great snorkel spot hidden in plain sight, but its not too far from the highway. It is relatively simple to access most of the best snorkeling in Big Island. Going snorkeling in Hawaii, on the other hand, will provide you with a variety of advantages. A half-day boat tour on the Captain Cook Monument, which includes a snorkel, is worth the money. The best snorkeling on Big Island is done along the West Coast.
The Best Snorkeling On The Big Island Of Hawaii
05/07/2020 by Kristin
Ah, Hawaii. The Big Island is such an incredible place, and not just because of everything above water: the world below the surface of the ocean is equally breathtaking. Needless to say, snorkeling is one of those must-do activities when in Hawaii.
With so much coastline to choose from, it might be difficult to know where to start luckily, you dont have to figure it out on your own. Here are the best snorkeling spots the Big Island of Hawaii has to offer:
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Best Big Island Snorkeling South Of Kona
84-5571 Honaunau Beach RdCaptain Cook, HI 96704
Known to the locals as Two Step, this snorkeling site is incredibly popular, and for good reason its among the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island. Two Step derives its name from the natural rock step at the waters edge that serves as a perfect access point for fin-wearing visitors. The Snorkeling here is incredible with large schools of fish, lots of varied terrain, healthy coral and a wide variety of other sea life.
Theres no beach, but there is plenty of space to have a picnic on the lava rock shelf under the palm trees. This area is easily accessible, but a little out of town, so bring water and a lunch or snacks and plenty of sunscreen. There is a porta-potty and a few picnic tables, but no other facilities or showers. You are very close to Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park so stop by and check out the amazing Hawaiian history across the bay.
82-6099 Puuhonua Beach RdKealakekua, HI 96750
Snorkeling Spots Near Kona
The Kona side of the Big Island definitely wins the prize for best snorkeling coast of the Big Island. The calm waters and many beaches offer snorkeling spots that are superior to those on the Hilo side.
Our 3 favorite Big Island spots are on the Kona side, but there are many more. As a matter of fact, there are so many good spots to go snorkeling close to Kona that we have created a separate list!
Click through to read our list of 14 good snorkeling spots on the Kona coast.
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Why Is The Snorkeling So Great Here
1. Amazing Shore and Beach AccessWe really like free snorkeling from shore. The Big Island Hawaii is great for this. Many locations are accessed from the most stunning beaches in the world but a few of the better ones are accessed from rocky shores.
2. Beautiful Tropical Fish and TurtlesProbably because the Big Island is a bit less populated and visited, it supports a healthy abundance of beautiful tropical fish.
And although the turtle populations dont compare to Maui, you are still likely to see many sea turtles.
3. Excellent Depths for SnorkelersBig Island Hawaii snorkeling offers ideal water depths. You can find whatever you like: super shallow areas where the fish are right in your face, reefs that range in depth from 5 to 25 feet, or for the more adventurous, deep drop-offs to over 50 feet.
4. Some Healthy Coral ReefsThe Big Island is home to some healthy coral reefs which are mostly reachable from shore.
5. Super Clear WaterThere are areas on the Big Island that have some of the best visibility available in all Hawaii. In several locations you can snorkel along a wall in 10 feet of depth, and look down to over 50 feet through super clear water and see the sea floor below.
Snorkeling At Kahaluu Bay
Kahaluu bay is a great snorkeling beach. It is one of our 3 favorite snorkeling spots on the whole island and one of our favorite snorkeling spots for beginners of the whole state!
The reef at Kahaluu Bay is a living, breathing ecosystem home to numerous aquatic creatures. The foundation of this habitat is the coral reef. As you venture beneath the surface, keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles, octopus, sea urchins, eels, and dozens of fish species including Yellow Tang, Bullethead Parrotfish, Racoon Butterflyfish, Moorish Idol, Orangespine Unicornfish, Hawaiian Spotted Boxfish, and more.
You can have a small preview of some of the residents of Kahaluu Bay, the fish, honu, and invertebrates that play a critical role in maintaining the delicate balance of this reef ecosystem, in the short video below:
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Theres Definitely For You To Enjoy Snorkeling
Whether youre a beginner snorkeler thats getting comfortable in the ocean or a mermaid that dives deep for shells, theres a perfect beach for you to enjoy snorkeling in Hawaii! With our valuable local knowledge, weve come up with a shortlist of Pride of Mauis Top 20 Places To Snorkel in Hawaii. No matter which island you choose to visit in Hawaii, youll surely have an excellent time.
On each of Hawaiis main islands , all guests will have many chances to see gorgeous marine life. Depending on the time of the year, you may see the North Pacific humpback whales, Hawaiian green sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, or playful spinner dolphins. Throughout Hawaiis Pacific Ocean, guests can easily see a myriad of colorful tropical marine life while snorkeling yellow tang, butterflyfish, parrotfish varieties, octopus, manta rays, sea cucumbers, Hawaiian spiny lobsters, Moray eel, and so much more.
Visit Hawaii for a relaxing vacation, enjoy the sun and surf! Make sure to book a Hawaii snorkel tour, or go beach hopping for an awesome Hawaii snorkeling adventure!
Honaunau Bay The City Of Refuge 22 Miles South Of Kona
The famous snorkeling spot at Honaunau bay is called Paea, and is also know as Two Step.
Honaunau Bay is often referred to as the City of Refuge, after the Puuhonua o Hnaunau National Historic Park . The Travel Channel named Honaunau Bay one of Americas Best Beaches 2004. A big reason for this is that due to a very advantageous layout of the bay, the water is almost always calm and the waters have exceptional visibility most of the year.
This spot is often rated the second best place on the Big Island for snorkeling after Captain Cook. The waters are usually clear and the average depth is about 20ft. Often you can see pods of dolphins swimming close to shore. There is a very easy place to enter the water called Paea or Two Step. It is at the end of a finger of lava and easy to find because you will see lots of people getting in and out of the water.
Two step in Honaunau Bay is one of the best places to snorkel on the Big Island of Hawaii. Two step is named after two steps in the lava rocks that allow access to the ocean.
Two step is located right next to the Puuhonua o Hnaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island
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Best Snorkeling On Big Island Hawaii
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Big Island, as the name suggests, is the biggest island in the Hawaiian chain. It’s not just big in size but offers a staggering variety of sights and activities to enjoy. Whether youre into hiking up volcanoes, exploring lush valleys, visiting must-see waterfalls, or enjoying the best snorkeling on Big Island, there are several ways to explore the island’s beauty.
Of course, if youre reading this, youre planning to explore the world beneath the waves on a snorkeling adventure. And you wont be disappointed. Big Island offers some of the very best snorkeling in the island chain. Weve got you covered with our list of the best snorkeling on Big Island.
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Kahaluu Beach Park Kailua Kona
An unremarkable beach park close to Kona hides one of the best places to snorkel on the Big Island.
The easily accessible, sheltered, and shallow bay is home to one of the highest concentrations of fishes on Hawaii. At low tide there are plenty of tide pools to explore that are teeming with tropical fish. Kahaluu Bay is a great place for people that are new to snorkeling.
Kahaluu Beach Park is on of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island. By trickofthelightoriginal, CC BY 2.0.
Kahaluu Beach is also famous for its Honu . On any given day youll be able to see quite a few of them feeding on seaweed and sunning themselves on the warm rocks.
Good to keep in mind: there are many surfers at this beach. Make sure to stay on the south side of the beach while snorkeling.
its proximity to Kona makes this beach park an ideal place for a last-minute snorkel. Getting there and back from downtown Kona plus an hour of leisure snorkeling will only take about two hours!
We like this spot so much that we have written a whole guide on it! Read more on our website about snorkeling in Kahaluu bay.
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