Jul 12

Makaiwa Bay – The Big Island

School of Yellow TangKaren and I love to snorkel.  It is one of our favorite past times and we try to plan at least one of our vacations every year around that activity.  Snorkeling was one of the reasons that we picked Hawaii and more specifically the Big Island as a vacation destination and we were not disappointed.  There were so many wonderful places to go but our favorite was Makaiwa Bay near the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.
Makaiwa Bay

The Mauna Lani Bay resort runs about $400 a night so there was no way that Karen and I could stay in place like that.  So, how did we hear about the great snorkeling they had there?  Well, I like to do a lot of planning for our vacations so we can try to get the best bang for our buck and I bought a book called Snorkel Hawaii by Judy and Mel Malinowski.  The book turned out to be a great buy and listed tons of places to snorkel.  I wish we could have visited all of them, but Karen and I narrowed it down to a list we called our top ten.  All of the places that we went to were phenomenal, but Makaiwa Bay was just about heaven on earth.
Path to Makaiwa Bay

The public parking for Makaiwa bay is nice since you do not have to stop at the guard shack and ask for a pass like some of the other places.  Also, the public parking has a very clean public restroom right next to the parking lot so you do not have to hunt around for a place to go.

Since it is in front of a private beach resort it does require a short, less than a mile, walk to the beach.  The walk is exposed to the sun pretty much the whole way there so make sure you wear a shirt and sunscreen. (Make sure you put your sunscreen on at least a half an hour before you snorkel so you do not leave oil residue in the water or better yet wear a rash guard or wetsuit.)  The hike winds through an extensive lava area that contains some interpretative signs.  Once you are through the lava area you will go by some of the condos and then arrive at the fish gardens.  Take your time at the fish gardens because you will see all sorts of wildlife like crabs, fish, and eels.  Stay on the path and you will reach the beach area for easy access to the bay.

Karen and I ended up going to this place on the third day of our vacation and went back every morning for the rest of the trip.  We even went back the day of our flight home just to walk around and take in the sights one last time.  Maybe for our 10 year anniversary we will try to stay at the Mauna Lani Resort.  It might take a few years to save up, but it just might be worth it.

We are not that much into people watching so the less crowds the better we feel about it, and at Makaiwa Bay it was hardly crowded at all.  Of course, we tried to hit the bay by 9:00 and leave before 12:00, but even when we were leaving it still was not packed.
School of Fish

The reef is about 20 yards out from the sandy shore and about 15 to 20 feet deep, which is nice because you do not have to worry about hitting the reef and destroying the coral or scrapping yourself up.  The reef never disappointed, every day we saw plenty of fish and sea turtles.
Green Sea Turtle

To get to Makaiwa Bay take Highway 19 towards the Mauna Lani Resort on Mauna Lani Drive.  Stay on Mauna Lani Drive for 1.5 miles until you reach Pauoa Road.  Take Pauoa Road for 1.1 miles and look for a sign that says public parking.  The parking lot has around 20 parking spaces, which I am sure fills up later in the day, so we recommend you go early.  Once in the parking lot take the paved path to the beach, you can’t miss it.
Fishponds at Mauna Lani Resort

For more information on the Makaiwa Bay and the Mauna Lani Resort check out their website at http://www.maunalani.com/

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