Top Snorkeling Spots On The Big Island Hawaii

11/20/2017 | by Conrad O'Connell | Big Island Things To Do Vacation Planning

Are you heading to Hawaii for some fun and relaxation? Have you finalized your itinerary? Do you want an exciting excursion that will ensure you always remember your time in paradise? We have just the thing, a snorkeling adventure in one of the top three spots in Hawaii. How can you go wrong with crystal, clear water, tropical wildlife, stunning sunsets, and beautiful plants specific to the island of Hawaii?

Honaunau Bay

“Honaunau Bay--Ornate Butterflyfish” by Makuahine Pa'i Ki'i is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Honaunau Bay–Ornate Butterflyfish” by Makuahine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Located just a half hour south of Kona sits Honaunau Bay where accolades from the Travel Channel boost traffic daily after naming it one of the country’s best beaches in 2004. The most significant reason why this site is a top pick is that the water stays very serene and peaceful making it easy to see as far as you want.

Magnificent scenery and wildlife

Two pockets of deep water give you access to sea turtles and spinner dolphins if you check out both sides of the entrance named a lava finger for the way the lava flow extends into the ocean before cooling and hardening. Watch the water lap at your feet while the sun rises overhead as you near midday. Visitors and residents easily access the snorkeling areas from the jut of land. You cannot miss it.

A note of caution

Honaunau Bay has no parking area for guests, so many park alongside the highway and walk to the water’s edge. We recommend that you head to the water by no later than 10 in the morning because the island tends to get cloudy during the afternoon hours. Visibility is still excellent, but the view is much better in the morning. Bring snacks and refreshing drinks because there are no cafes or food stands in the area.

The underwater oasis at Kealakekua Bay

“Kealakekua Bay”by Ewen Roberts is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Kealakekua Bay” by Ewen Roberts is licensed underCC BY 2.0

Did you know that Captain Cook died at Kealakekua Bay? Are you fascinated with wildlife and ocean mammals? You can experience everything up close and personal at one of the big island snorkeling spots like Kealakekua Bay. Insider tip – plan to snorkel close to the Captain Cook Memorial where the water is deepest and spinner dolphins are often seen.

Know the regulations

To get to the desired spot takes a lot of swimming, a permit, or a boat tour that allows you to snorkel from the boat. Keep in mind that if you plan to kayak around the water, you cannot land at the memorial without a permit. Many say that a local boat tour is the best way to access the prime location. A trip to Kealakekua Bay is not complete without a dive in the best snorkeling zone.

Legal tour companies with permits

You can call the State Parks office in Hilo at (808)-974-6200 ahead of time to find out what you need to get your permit. Calling early is the best tip guides have to offer.

The Top Snorkel Spot – Kahaluʻu Beach Park

“Kahaluu Beach Park” by trickofthelight is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Kahaluu Beach Park” by trickofthelight is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hawaii’s top spot for snorkeling is Kahaluʻu Beach Park where you can see tons of tropical fish and sea turtles that like to sunbathe on the sand. Located just off from Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona sits the best snorkeling grounds in all of Hawaii.

Helpful information for visitors

When facing the ocean at Kahaluʻu Beach Park, you will want to stay to the left or south side of the beach because there are tons of surfers. Keeping on the south side gives you the calmest place to snorkel. This spot is one of the few areas with a lifeguard on duty. Picnic shelters, showers, and restrooms make the trip much easier for cleaning up after being in the water.

Are you running late for your trip? Kona is just a few minutes away from Kahaluʻu Beach Park making it quick to reach and set up equipment to get in a few hours of snorkeling on tight itineraries.

No trip to the big island of Hawaii is complete without a snorkeling excursion. The chance to see tropical fish, sea turtles, and dolphins in their natural habitat is an experience of a lifetime. Create memories that you and your family will talk about for years.

With our top three picks for snorkeling the island, you are sure to find a favorite spot or beach that you want to come back to every time you vacation in Hawaii. The proximity to Kona makes all three of our picks excellent options for families, groups, friends, and couples.
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