Kona Snorkeling is the best that Hawaii has to offer with accessible sites and vibrant sea life right off shore. The Big Island is home to a variety of snorkeling sites that provide breathtaking views of different coral, dolphins, turtles, rays and countless species of tropical fish.
Top 5 Kona Snorkeling Experiences
5. Beach 69 (Waialea Bay Beach)
This beautiful white sand beach is secluded and rugged, and a great place to partake in some Kona snorkeling. Choose to either snorkel at the ends of the beach or the middle (though the left and middle are best), and enter from shore. Along the left side of the beach, you will make your way out to the rocky wall where you can see immature fish, large schools of colorful Chromis, and fairly healthy corals. In the center, you will swim straight out until you reach a small rocky area. Here there are beautiful, vibrant corals as well as a variety of fish, such as hawkfish, wrasse, trumpetfish and many others.
4. Captain Cook Monument
This spot comes highly recommended as it has plenty of coral, fish and great conditions for Kona snorkeling. It is located along the north shore of Kealakekua Bay and the best snorkeling is along the shore around the white obelisk monument. A coral shelf begins a few feet away from the monument and the ocean floor quickly drops to almost 100 feet. The right side has a bit more to offer with large schools of fish and gorgeous topography. You will often see turtles here as well as sea urchins and tropical fish making their way around the Bubbling Neoprenes.
3. Kapoho Tide Pools
The tide pools are a unique experience, as they are formed by hardened black lava rock. While some are smaller and not large enough to snorkel in, others are so large that you can easily swim about. Wear footwear while exploring this area, and venture to the right side where two of the largest pools are located. You can see many different types of fish among the beautiful rock formations, such as cornetfish, coris, surgeonfish, and parrotfish.
2. Night Snorkel with Manta Rays
If you are looking for a once in a lifetime snorkeling experience, than the Manta Ray night snorkel is something you will not want to miss. You will board a boat around dusk and jet over to your final destination a ways out from shore. Here you will strap on colored glow sticks (to keep track of one another in the dark water) and guides will all be holding large flashlights as massive Manta Rays swim in circles around your group. Some of these mantas have a wingspan of up to 16 feet and you will likely see up to thirty of them circling.
1. Two Steps (Honaunau)
This is a prime spot for Kona Snorkeling and definitely a favorite of locals and Kona visitors alike. What’s great about Two Steps is that there are a variety of sea life, coral, water depths and topography to explore. There really is something for everyone here. You will need to access Two Steps from the lava rocks, as there is no beach. To the left of your water entrance, there is slightly deeper water where you can see turtles as well as a variety of other fish swimming about.
Best time for Kona Snorkeling
Though people generally visit Kona during winter and spring, the best time to snorkel Kona is actually during the summer. Sure it is hotter and more humid during this time, but the water will be clearer and warmer, and you’ll experience average air temperatures around +30C (86F). Also, the winds die down in the summer so the water is generally calmer than in the spring and winter.
How to Get to Kona
When traveling to the Big Island, most visitors fly to the Kona International Airport (KOA) in Kona. If coming in from the east, you can also fly into the Hilo International Airport (ITO) in Hilo. A third option would be flying into the Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu and catching a 40-minute connecting flight to Kona.
The truth is, no matter which of these destinations you visit, you will be extremely impressed. The variety of marine life and stunning coral heads will be something that you always remember.