Jun 01

Top 10 Snorkel Beaches on Hawaii: Big Island Edition

As the Great Plains heat up my mind starts to drift to the ocean and how we wish we were there.  One of our favorite vacations of all time was a 10 day stay to the Big Island of Hawaii.  Not as crowded as Oahu or Maui and just as beautiful.  In our minds the perfect spot so much so that we have far distant dreams of spending a few months there when we reach our retirement years.  It is always good to dream big.  One of our favorite activities while we were on the Big Island was to snorkel which we did everyday most days several times a day while we were there. We hope you enjoy our list of the Top 10 Snorkel Beaches on Hawaii: Big Island Edition.

Top 10 Snorkel Beaches on Hawaii: Big Island Edition

10. Kahaul’u Beach Park

Smiling Parrot Fish

Kahaul’u Beach Park also known as Children’s Beach for its calm water that is protected by a breakwater is an excellent beginners beach though it is shallow, there always seemed to be lots of fish and a few occasional sea turtles while we there.    

9. Mahukona Park

Mahukona Park offers a different snorkeling experience because there is no beach but instead access by a short ladder.  Like all snorkeling spots make sure the waves are calm especially with places like Mahukona which does not have a beach access.

8. Kauna’oa Beach

Mauna Kea Beach, South Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii.via

A beautiful beach with great snorkeling sounds like a great day at the beach to me.  Make sure you go early because there is only a limited number of parking passes given out to non-guest of the hotel.

7. Manini’owali Beach

Manini Owali at Kua Bayvia

Maninio’wali Beach is a fairly new beach park with a gorgeous setting of big lava boulders and turquoise water.  It is not as protected as some of the other beaches on this list so only go when the swell is low.

6. Kekaha Kai Park

At Peace, Stillvia

There is a large reef system on the right side of Kekaha Kai Park with a good chance to see sea turtles as well as some larger deep ocean fish.  Kekaha Kai Park has access to three beach areas and as you go farther north the areas get more protected from the waves.  So choose based on your comfort level and experience.

5. Kahuwai Bay

Kahuwai bayvia

This Kona Village resort beach is excellent for snorkeling especially early in the morning where you and a few other early risers will probably have the entire bay to yourself.  The hard part at any beach that has large hotels is finding access to public parking. Usually access is limited.  So the mantra of “early to rise and a parking spot will be mine” is a must.  (Just made that up… not to bad huh?)

4. Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach State Park and Hualalai Panoramavia

Hapuna Beach is one of the more popular beaches on the Big Island and is considered one of the more dangerous beaches.  When the surf is low the snorkeling can be excellent, the only problem that we had was finding a day when it was calm.  We visited Hapuna twice and both times the waves were a little too rough for us to snorkel comfortably. My wife and I still enjoyed our time there jumping the waves.

3. Makaiwa Bay

Makaiwa Bay, Hawaiivia

Makaiwa Bay one of our favorite locations and where we spent most of our mornings when we were on the Big Island.  Besides the uncrowded conditions, nice reef, and clear water I think we really enjoyed the walk to and from the public parking to the beach just as much.  The half mile or so trail goes by the historic fish ponds and overlooks the beautiful Makaiwa Bay.

2. Wai’alea Beach

Beach 69via

Wai’alea Beach Park was another one of our personal favorites where we spent lots of our vacation time visiting.  Beautiful water, nice coral with plentiful fish, and easy access and lots of parking makes it our 2nd favorite snorkel location on the Big Island.

1. Honaunau Bay “Two Step”

snorkelers galorevia

A little difficult to get in hence the nickname “Two StepHonaunau Bay is one of the best snorkeling spots in all of the Hawaiian Islands.  A little deeper than the other spots on our list which in turn helps protect the coral from being kicked or stepped on Honaunau Bay is excellent spot to snorkel.  The only downside is that is located on a rocky lava shelf so if someone in your group is looking to relax on a sandy beach you will need to find another place to go.

To see our reviews of snorkeling spots we have been to click here

The Big Island has some fantastic sights and many more great beaches than the 10 listed above.  For example Kealakekua or the Captain Cook Monument is probably on a lot of must see lists but not included on ours because of its overuse over the last decade.  Please keep in mind that anytime you decide to get into the water please be careful not only for yourself but the reef as well.  Never step on, kick, poke, breakoff pieces to keep, or touch the coral reef.  It is a very fragile ecosystem that people before and countless number of people after would like to enjoy.

We hope you enjoyed our list of the Top 10 Snorkel Spots in Hawaii: Big Island Edition. Like any top 10 list they are subject to opinion so please give us yours and let us know what you think of our list, is there anything that you think we should not have put on our list and what would you replace it with by leaving a comment.

To see all our top 10 attractions lists click here

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