Snorkel, scuba dive and swim with the local dolphins

Scuba diving on the Big Island

Hawaii Bed and Breakfast

Favorite Big Island Snorkeling and Diving Spots

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving for Beginners and Experts Alike


The underwater world off the Big Island's Kona Coast is known as a premier destination for scuba divers. And why not? Its calm, crystal clear water, protected from standard trade-wind patterns by two sprawling mountain masses, often allow visibility in excess of 100 feet making the view of the spectacular marine landscape and its teeming sea life a diver's dream. Some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world happens off the coasts of this archipelago. Whether you have spent or are taking the plunge for the first time there are a lot of things to know about the where, when and how of enjoying your time under the sea. If you have never done it before, you will want to check out the Kona Manta Ray Dive, an experience you are sure to always remember!

Visibility is typically better on the Kona side of the Big Island, subject to wind and surf conditions.  Below we have listed our favorite snorkeling and dive spots that are in the Kona area. there are, of course, may others ans we would be happy to connect you with locals that know best.

Honaunau Place of Refuge
Location - Approx. 20 miles South of Kailua-Kona.
Water Entry / Exit - The dive entry is one of the nicest lava-ledge entries you'll find on the island.  Have your buddy help you step down to the water level, then gently slip into the water.  Be sure not to put your fingers in the small holes on the lava ledge, since there are small sea urchins in them.  As with all entries and exits during rougher seas, be especially careful. The lava here is not sharp, but it is hard!

Extras - Place of Refuge National Park ($5 entry) immediately adjacent to beach park; bathrooms in the park; porta-potties on site; boat ramp access; crystal clear water; picnic benches; lava shelf for sunbathing; abundance of sea life; possible sea turtle and moray eel sightings; shallow reef offers excellent snorkeling conditions; free-diving excellent too.

Big Island Snorkeling

Captain Cook and Kealakekua Marine Sanctuary

Trumpet fish are amoung the coloful underwater sights


Captain Cook Monument
Location - Just north of Hale Ho'ola

Water Entry / Exit - Load up your kayak before entering the water.  Kayak to Captain Cook and beach your gear in the small cove to the west of the monument.  Walk down the lava rocks into the calm waters. 

Snorkel Route - Turn east towards the monument as you enter the water.  The best snorkeling is the area in front of and east of the monument.  These Hawaiian waters are crystal clear with 100 ft. visibility.  The vibrant reef stretches out to beyond 80 feet in depth.  Investigate the drop off at 30 ft. not far from the shore.

Extras - Crystal clear water; shaded area for picnic; historic monument; abundance of sea life; possible sea turtle sightings; shallow reef offers excellent snorkeling conditions; free-diving excellent too.

While you can snorkel right off of the dock in Kealakekua, we suggest you rent a kayak (approx $40) from one of the stores between Kailua and the Kealakekua turn-off and kayak across the bay to Captain Cook's monument.

Kahaluu Beach Park
Just south of Kona on Ali'i drive is an excellent and best known snorkeling spots on the big island. Water Entry / Exit - Easy via the protected black sand beach

Snorkel Route - Start out to your left (facing the ocean) and snorkel out towards the breakwater rocks, then circle to your right and back to the beach.  To the left you should encounter huge schools of very tame fish!  Keep an eye out for turtles in the shallows and even sometimes on the black sand beach!

Extras - Ample free parking, restrooms, showers, lifeguards, pavilion, concession stands, picnic tables, shady trees, gear rental stands, surfing is popular to the North of the bay. 

Kahaluu is one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island.  Fed by a fresh water spring, up to 10 million gallons per day.  These shallow waters are almost always calm, with colorful corals, rock formations, and 100+ species of fish.  Swim with schools of colorful fish and green sea turtles in these protected waters; don't forget your underwater camera! The north end of the beach is where the waves break and is best for body boarding and surfing.  Check the water conditions; with ocean swells, the water can be murky.  More info on Kahaluu Beach.  PHONE: 808/961-8311.


Kayak to excellent snorkel spots

Green Sea Turtles in your snorkel adventure

Spencer Beach snorkeling

Spencer Beach Park
Entry road off Hwy. 270, uphill from Kawaihae Harbor (North of Kailua-Kona)

Water Entry / Exit - Easy via the protected white sand beach

Snorkel Route - Snorkel in either direction, stay in the clear waters to see the most fish.  If you stay to the right (facing the ocean), there is a wonderful shallow reef, lots of fish and many sea turtles too!  Water conditions dictate how clear the visibility is.

Spencer Beach is popular with local families because of its reef-protected, gently sloping white-sand beach, and it's safe for swimming year-round. Calm, protected bay ideal for families and snorkelers.  Snorkel with the sea turtles here!  You can walk from here to the Pu'ukohola and Mailekini heiaus. More info on Spencer Beach  PHONE: 808/961-8311. 

Kailua Bay, Kailua-Kona
Location - Adjacent to the pier on Ali'i Drive in downtown Kailua-Kona. 
Water Entry / Exit - Easy via the small beach between the pier and the King Kamehameha hotel.
Snorkel Route - Straight out from the beach at the King Kamehameha, then curve North around the Hawaiian ruins and follow the shallow reef.  Keep an eye out for outriggers and kayakers.  See fish galore in the clear, calm waters here. 
Extras - Abundance of sea life; possible sea turtle and moray eel sightings; shallow reef offers excellent snorkeling conditions; free-diving excellent too.  In fact turtles can sometimes be seen right off the Kailua pier.
Packing List - Bring what you need to relax and enjoy this beach area.  Stores and restaurants are nearby on Ali'i Drive.

Directions - Head to Ali'i Drive in downtown Kailua-Kona.  The beach is between the pier and the King Kamehameha hotel.


Hale Ho`ola
Big Island Hawaii Bed and Breakfast Inn

85-4577 Mamalahoa Hwy
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Toll Free: 877-628-9117 or 808-328-9117



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