Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Hawaii’s Best Snorkeling | Kona, Hawaii

Snorkeler finds a turtle in Hawaii's beautiful waters


Hawaii Island has Hawaii's best snorkeling

One of Kona’s few sandy beaches doesn’t have particularly good snorkeling


Hawaii is often pictured as long stretches of white sandy beaches with turquoise water but oddly enough this does not make for good snorkeling. Why? The sand gets stirred up but the ocean waves and creates a murky haze in the water. So the best snorkel spots often have the least amount of sand.


Why Kona Hawaii has the best Snorkeling

  • Less Sand
  • Smaller Waves
  • Less Wind
  • Better Visibility
  • Better Reef
  • More Critters
  • Shallow Depth
  • Interesting Structure



As islands age their reefs get broken down creating sand. This means the newer the island the less sand. The Big Island of Hawaii is the newest island in the Hawaiian island chain. This means it has the best snorkeling. The west side of Hawaii, often called the Kona side after the main town there, is the best protected from wind and ocean waves making it ideal for snorkeling. Some of the best snorkeling in the world is here because of a combination of factors



Waves can make for a pretty miserable snorkeling experience. Water gets in your snorkel, you start to feel queasy and it can be difficult to get in and out of the water. Kona is in a unique spot where it is often sheltered by the other Hawaiian Islands from the big swells that develop in the Pacific Ocean. 



Wind creates wind chop. It also blows your stuff around and makes you cold. It also creates upwelling. These undersea currents bring nutrients from the depths. These nutrients are good for the algae that grows in the water but bad for visibility making it harder to see the bottom through the haze.


Snorkeler finds a turtle in Hawaii's beautiful waters

Snorkeler finds a turtle in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii’s best snorkeling spot



Kona’s coast is mostly rock. The rock provides a great substrate for coral larvae to settle on. This means lots of coral! The reef is also well preserved in many places due to the protection from large storms and less development on land.



The Big Island of Hawaii has loads of reef fish. Because of the great visibility you can actually see them too! 



Being that Hawaii is a relatively newer Island it has a very steep drop close to shore. This forces the reef to grow on fresh rock near the shore. Less sand and new rock mean more coral close to where you want to see it in the shallows!

Check out our blog Kona Hawaii’s 5 Best Snorkeling Spots

  • Posted in: