Kona Snorkeling Spots Guide
The Complete Kona Snorkeling Spots Guide
When it comes to snorkeling spot selection, the Big Island has so much coastline it’s absolutely overabundant with places to dive and snorkel. Fortunately many places can only be reached by boat so this somewhat limits our options. This is a good thing because there’s still too many Big Island snorkeling spots! Let’s say you’re already in Kona. Let’s take advantage of that and go somewhere nearby. After al Kona has some of the best snorkeling on Big Island. Not all snorkeling spots are created equal however. These snorkeling Kona spots have their plusses and minuses. We go through them all so you can pick the best one for you and your companions. We define Kona snorkeling spots as those beaches and coastline within 20 – 25 minute drive of downtown Kona between Four Seasons to the north and Keahou Bay to the south.
Kona Snorkel Trips visits Pawai Arches one of our favorite Snorkeling Spots in Kona
Kona Snorkeling Spots (From North to South)
- Four Seasons Hualalai
- Kua Bay
- Makalawena Beach
- Mahaiula Bay
- Kekaha Kai Beach
- Blue Canyon
- Suck E’m Up
- Pawai Arches
- Old Kona Airport
- Kailua Bay
- Mile Marker 4
- Kahalu’u Beach
- Keahou Bay
- End of The World
Check out the Swell Report before heading out.
Keep in mind there are lots or places in-between these sites that are difficult to access, don’t have good snorkeling, or are only accessible by boat so this is not a list of every spot along the Kona coast. It is simply a list of some of the more frequented and easier to get to Kona snorkeling spots that are worth a dip. Mostly they will not require you to have to crawl in and out of the lava which can be dangerous especially in high surf conditions. Before you go make sure you have the right snorkeling gear and are abiding by local rules and regulations.
The most northern of the Kona snorkeling spots this resort area is not only home to one of the poshest resorts it’s also got a decent beach entry and snorkeling to boot. Showers and bathrooms can be found in the Four Seasons resort just to the south.
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Just south of Four Seasons is Kukio a private residence neighborhood. With a gate pass you can park in one of the few spots available and hop in at one of 2 spots. The protected pond is a good entry point when the tide is up. Otherwise the beach nearby will work. Once in the water you are in one of the few marine protected areas in the state. The absence of fishing means the animals here have had time to bounce back and are better than ever. Rock wall leads to some nice reef. A lava arch and cavern make for some stellar freediving.
A popular beach with locals and tourists the white sand and waves make for a compelling beach to lounge on. The addition of bathrooms and showers add to the convenience. This beach can get quite crowded and upon entry it would seem that the snorkeling is subpar. Head out past the surf and to the north, however, and you may be surprised to see nice rock wall structure with rock islands, arches, caverns, and lots of sand. The visibility improves dramatically and makes for a nice snorkel site. It’s a bit deeper than other snorkeling spots with average depths in the 15-25 foot range but it’s worth a look if you’re family drags you out here.
Possibly one of worst snorkeling spots in the Kona area ‘Maks’ as the locals call it is one of the most beautiful beaches to hang out on for the day but sadly the underwater part of this spot is mostly sand and a bit of rocky reef with maybe the occasional fish. While gorgeous it’s just not a spot we would recommend for a snorkeling Kona guide. To see more of the worst snorkeling spots on the Big Island check out our guide.
One of the more popular beaches located adjacent to kekeha Kai the snorkeling is less than awesome. This beach makes it on our worst snorkeling spots on the Big Island guide. If your family drags you out here you can easily walk down the road to Kekaha Kai for some better, though not stellar, snorkeling.
One of our favorite beaches on the Big Island Kekaha Kai State park is not well known and thus is often wide open. While we wouldn’t usually recommend this beach for snorkeling the snorkeling is decent. Many people will stop short and hike to Mahaiula but we keep going to Kekaha Kai because the beach has nice shade trees and an easy in/out spot that is somewhat protected from swell. The snorkeling is usually lower visibility and the wind can pick up a bit here because of it’s location near the saddle. There’s not a low of coral but the few corals there are can be nice. There is an abundance of some kinds of fish here hiding ab=moung all of the pahoehoe lava formations.
A bit off the beaten path this site is difficult to enter and should only be attempted when the swell is down. You’ll be treated by an aquarium of fish in schools. While there is some good shallow snorkeling some of the better parts of the site require advanced snorkeling capability.
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One of the spots we like to visit regularly it has many things going for it including a beautiful cavern with skylights and some great lava formations. There’s lots to see an do here and it’s regularly visited by dive boats for it’s beauty.
One of the best most secluded spots right near Kona town this is easily one of our favorites that we like to visit regularly because it is just that good. A little secluded cove just south of the harbor it’s like an underwater amphitheater loaded with fish. We often see eagle rays and eels here as well as the multitude of schooling colorful reef fish.
One of our absolute favorite Kona snorkeling spots. Pawai has a lot going for it. Located just north of Kona the reefs here are in good shape and the reef fish seem to love it here. The unique topography is what takes it to the next level. Reef walls, arches and caves mean there’s plenty to explore here. Turtles, eels, and octopus are regulars here.
Located just north of Kona town ‘Old Airport’ as the locals call it is a beach park that has pavilions and plenty of sand. If you drive to the very end there’s a lesser visited beach and somewhat okay entry into the ocean. The snorkeling here is decent. There’s a fair amount of reef and fish. One distinguishing thing about this spot is the potential to see larger marine life if you head out to the reef slope at around 50-60 feet deep. While not the best depth for snorkeling you could see a tuna or a manta ray out there.
Located in the hotspot that is downtown Kona the confluence of the pier, King Kamehameha’s resting place, a secluded cove, canoe teams, and many hotels and restaurants makes for a varied and solid snorkel beach for the whole family. One of the easiest to access Kona snorkeling spots. Showers, bathrooms, and proximity to restaurants and the ABC store make this a convenient location for hanging out for the day.
Once of the lesser known spots this secluded cove is ironically located a few hundred feet south of Magic sands beach one of the worst snorkeling spots and one of the most overcrowded beaches on the entire island.
One of the most popular snorkeling spots in Kona. It’s common to see snorkelers as well as surfers both enjoying the same beach. It’s odd but somehow here it works.
A small boat harbor resides next to the Kona Outrigger resort. The resort is on a point and the snorkeling from the harbor out to the point is quite good albeit sometimes with lower visibility than some of these other sites. Upon entry you’ll encounter a lot of sand and reef with a good amount of fish and water ranging from 10-15 feet. As you make your way out to the point look out for boat traffic! This is a good spot to bring a float or something visible on the surface. That being said watch out because sometimes the captains don’t pay very good attention to what’s in the water. There is a manta cleaning station and schools of akule come into here to rest. A solid snorkeling spot albeit not a list topper.
Our most southerly Kona snorkeling spots it’s not well known for it’s snorkeling. It’s actually known for cliff jumping but the snorkeling is pretty good here too! Head south along the coast and you’ll see some corals and fish. The most intruiguing thing about this spot is the cavern with a skylight and some unique lava features. The entry and exit can be a bit tricky here especially if the swell picks up so check the report before heading out.
The Best Snorkeling in Hawaii with Kona Snorkel Trips
Kona Snorkel Trips is an expert in the Best snorkeling on Big Island. We take thousands of snorkelers out every year to experience some of the best snorkeling here in Kona, Hawaii. We offer packages and the manta ray night snorkel Kona as well as daily morning and afternoon snorkel tours.
For more snorkeling spots check out our Guide to the Top 15 Snorkeling Spots on The Big Island.