Best Big Island Snorkel Sites
Honokohau Bay is 5 miles south of Kona Airport. Enter Honokohau Harbor, then .9 miles to the south (left) side of the harbor entrance. Park & walk 200 yrds over the lava to the sandy beach/small cove. You are here. Snorkel south & back. LOOKOUT! Boats can slice your coconut! Drive to the north side of the harbor to Honokohau/Kaloko National Historical Park. Walk along the harbor edge or marked trail to an ancient Hawaiian Fishpond for a swim or snorkel–good for young kids and beginners.
Kekaha Kai State Park is sand, lava & coral. The 1st entrance is a few miles north of the airport on Hwy 19, across a rough lava field road to a great picnic & snorkel spot. Juveniles may BOOGIE here too. The 2nd entrance further north (by the Veterans’ Cemetary) will take you to Kua Bay, a beautiful white sand beach good for swimming and boogie boarding. Go in early AM with less wind (usually). Park closes at 4 PM. Closed on Wednesday for maintenance.
Anaeho’omalu Bay (Waikoloa Beach Park) is 24.1 miles north on Hwy 19. Turn left at Waikoloa Beach Drive & go .6 mile to the stop sign. Go left .3 mile & park. Snorkel anywhere; the barrier reef protects.
Makaiwa Bay (Mauna Lani Bay Hotel) is north of Waikoloa Beach Resort on Hwy 19. Turn onto Mauna Lani Drive, go straight at the round-about (will see Snorkel Bob’s Mauna Lani on the right @ the Shops @ Mauna Lani); Go left on Pauoa Rd. approx. 1 mi., then right into a small parking lot. Follow the trail just right of the restrooms to the ocean, then turn left. Past the Kalahuipua’a Fishponds is a sandy beach (the Beach Club) with easy access to the ocean. Good for beginner and advanced snorkelers.
Hapuna State Park is a vast, white-sand beach 7 miles north of Waikoloa on Hwy 19. Go left at the Hapuna sign, go .4 & park. Great beach but only fair snorkeling. Good body board waves, but BIG SURF IN WINTER!!##$%^)(??!
Wai’ alea Bay inside Hapuna Beach State Park, just south of parking lot on Old Puako Road; shade, a sandy beach & excellent reef. Good for beginner and advanced snorkelers.
White Sands Beach Park a.k.a. Disappearing Sands or Magic Sands is 3 miles south of Snorkel Bob´s on Alii Drive. Danger! Big Surf! Beach sand comes & goes (disappearing) with varying seasonal wave action. CAUTION! Rocks & surf can be dangerous. But Magic Sands Beach got ono body board waves just south of Laaloa Cover. Snorkel ingress & egress is here too. Coral arches & caves. Beware sea urchins!
Kahalu’u Beach Park is a dying reef, over-used by humans. Every snorkel shop in Kona was sked by the U. of Hawaii Sea Grant Dept to avoid this place, so it can heal. We at Snorkel Bob’s agree & comply. Will you help the healing with aloha? Don’t go in the water at Kahaluu. Closed to the public on first Tuesday of every month from 6am to 11am. If you insist on going, it is CRITICAL not to walk on any coral.
Kealakekua Bay (Marine Preserve) is a beauteous snorkel spot and site of Captain Cook’s Monument. The bay can be accessed by permitted boat, kayak or a 1.5 mile swim. Ask one of my, SB’s snorkel consultants to arrange your trip to Kealakekua.
Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park (Place of Refuge and also known as Two Step) Drive south of Kailua-Kona approx. 20 miles on Hwy. 11. About five miles past the road to Kealekekua, turn right on Hwy 160 (you will see a sign for Pu’uhonua O Honaunau). At the bottom of 160, turn left into the National Park. DO NOT ENTER THE PARK–– take the one-way sign to the right before the gate. ‘Two Step’ is a short walk across smooth lava.
Ho’okena Beach Park (swim & boogie board in summer, snorkel in winter). Approx. 25-30 mi south on hwy 11. Pass hwy 160, Pu’u O Honaunau National Hist. Park. After small store on left, turn right to beach park. At the end of road, turn left to beach parking.
Many more spots are known by your fellow snorkelers on the great snorkel byway. Always ask about the parking, surf, surge, current, visibility, fish life & safety.
Richardson’s Ocean Park(County) Seawall runs along much of the rocky shoreline. Swimming, diving, surfing, fishing and picnicking. Lifeguards, picnic areas, showers, restrooms, parking, telephones, and ponds. Hazardous waves, currents and footing. Best snorkeling is to right of parking lot. Enter via sandy patch. Most marine life by rocks. More tidepools if you continue right. Lots of turtles! Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.