The Big Island has so many amazing snorkeling areas around the island worth driving to even if you’re on the opposite sides of the island. With so many different areas to cover for snorkeling adventure, you can have your pick of some of the fantastic snorkeling destinations on the island. Being the youngest island in the chain, the Big Island of Hawaii is blessed with many large and small beaches with snorkeling venues or specific spots for snorkeling or diving spots into a magical world. You can easily do your own snorkeling or find a tour outfitter that goes to some of the more outlying and not to easy to get to places. There are also many safe and easy snorkeling areas to choose from that are protected and family friendly places to take the whole family.
Fantastic Snorkeling around the Big Island of Hawaii
If you’re looking for amazing snorkeling on the Big, here are the top snorkeling spots around the Big Island that you will enjoy spending some time in.
Snorkeling locations around the Kohala coast area
Spencer beach – an easy family friendly beach area with snorkeling spot on the perimeter of the beach around the lava rock areas. Not as diverse in marine life, but a safe and easy place to go with children with calm and clear waters.
Hapuna extension also known as 69 beach – This tree covered and shady beach is filled with little sandy beaches and fun snorkeling areas throughout the beach. Look for the rocky outcropping areas and coral zones to find most of the snorkeling activity around the beach and also the perimeter parts with rocky lava zones that tropical fish love to congregate around.
Makalawena beach park – a tough 5 mile drive on rough gravel road leads you to a series of beaches that gets better the further out you go. Snorkeling is best at the furthest beach where the water is pristine, clear and filled with tropical fish. Very quiet and only popular with locals so it is not busy which is great for a beach and snorkeling like this in Kohala.
Snorkeling around Kailua Kona area
The downtown areas of Kailua Kona have many small pocket
beaches that are perfect spots for snorkeling fun. Check out the most popular
areas in Kona below.
Kahalu’u beach park – this popular beach park just a few miles south of downtown Kona has a busy parking area that fills up quick and is also a family friendly beach with a small sandy beach area. The whole swimming area is protected and is a marine life sanctuary filled with amazing coral and tropical fish. Definitely one of the favorite snorkeling beaches to go to just a short drive from the downtown area.
Magic Sands beach park – a very small beach area that is popular with body surfers, it is also a great spot for snorkeling but a little rougher to swim in especially in the late afternoon when the swells are larger.
Snorkeling on the East side of the Big Island
The Hilo side of the Big Island has colorful snorkeling and beache parks that are family friendly and perfect for snorkeling fun. Check out the popular snorkel spots around Hilo area below.
Richardson’s Beach Park – the last beach in the string of beaches on Kalanianaole Ave, Richardson is family friendly with small protected areas and rocky lava zones where tropical fish love to hang out in along with turtle, monk seals and the occasional whale that visit the area during the winter season. There are beach entries with a life guard on duty in the beach areas and full facilities on site for shower and toilet.
Carl Smith Beach – a mostly grassy area with no beach but soft sandy bottom lagoons that host a lot of snorkeling opportunities to spot wonderful tropical fish and marine life. You can snorkel up to little islands or go through cool around the various parts of the park area. There is a life guard station and shower/toilet facilities. Also, this is also a family friendly beach area.
Reeds Bay – a small lagoon area, just off Banyan Drive where most of the main Hilo hotels are located. This is the main family friendly zone that is perfect for kids, inlets and water sports like SUP and kayaking.
Coconut Island – the area off the island has little sandy beaches perfect for children and snorkeling fun. Local kids climb up the stone pillar and jump in the deep colder waters below which is entertaining to watch. There are shower/toilet facilities on site but no life guard on duty.
Snorkeling locations around the south side of the Big Island
Snorkeling in Southern areas of the Big Island
The southern part of the island has a few fantastic snorkeling areas that are also historical and worth exploring.
2 Step beach – located on the opposite side of the Place of Refuge National Monument AKA Honaunau – 2 step is not a beach but more flat rocky areas with amazing tropical fish and marine life. Relatively easy access to the water which becomes deep very quickly, the small bay is filled with amazing barbecuing, some coral and dolphins or whales if your lucky. While you are in the area, check out the historic Place of Refuge which was a royal compound and a refuge for commoners that escaped to avoid death or other ancient rules of conduct. There are no lifeguards or facilities on the beach/snorkel area.
Green Sand beach at Papakolea
The gorgeous green sandy beach at Papakolea in the South Point area is a two hour hike around the coastline or a quick pick up ride (you can tip locals for roundtrips to the beach) and small climb down the cliffs to the beach. If the entry is good to the ocean, you can snorkel along the cliff areas where the tropical fish is hanging out. Definitely a one of a kind beach to enjoy in the area and explore. There are no life guards or public facilities at the beach area.
Captain Cook Monumentj/Kealekekua – Just located in the bay fronting the monument, the sea life and tropical fish that live in the suddenly deep trench is impressive and colorful. The main ways of getting to this part of the open bay is by hiking through a trail from the top which takes a few hours, kayaking across of a launch area also three mile out or the easiest by taking an snorkeling tour with an outfitter that launches from the Kona area. You can also sign up for popular snorkeling tours are offered through Kailua Kona to get to this snorkeling spot. There are no life guards or public facilities at the beach area.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach – Close to the sleepy town of Punalu’u is the large black sand beach which is more popular with the various turtles that frequent the area and find the sandy black beach a perfect sun tanning spot. The snorkeling areas off the beach further to the left side is better for snorkeling fun, but be careful with heavier swells that occur later in the afternoon time frame.
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As you can see there are many options of places to snorkel on the Big Island of Hawaii. Depending on where you are planning to visit, make sure you have some down time to enjoy a beach and and enjoy some Snorkeling on the Big Island.
The best kid friendly beaches in Oahu are fantastic with so many amazing beaches that are family friendly. Many are in sheltered areas or with very shallow beach/waters surrounding the beach areas. But you still have to be aware of the unpredictable surf and swells that happen throughout the island and typically pick up in the later times of the afternoon. Fortunately, there are many family friendly beaches on to explore in Oahu to enjoy for the day. Following are some fantastic kid friendly places with easy access and protected areas that are specifically created or natural ocean spots for children.
Top kid friendly ocean and beach locations in Oahu
Kid friendly beaches on the East side of Oahu
Waikiki beach – the most popular stretch of beach on the east side happens to be protected in many areas and also have very shallow water and beaches which is perfect for families. There are also barrier protected areas that are specific to little keikis (young children). Take a walk along the entire strip and look out for the areas that have more children playing in the waters so there are lifeguards and more parents in mass in these areas.
Ala Moana Beach Park
More of a local beach located a short distance from the largest mall in Honolulu also called Ala Moana. This fantastic beach tends to be less crowded except for busy weekends when families come to hang out in the calm and shallow beaches with gorgeous views of Waikiki and Diamond Head in the background.
Halona Beach Cove
A sweet beach surrounded by dramatic lava rock outcroppings which was famous for the “Here to Eternity” movie scenes. Gorgeous cove with striking views, the beach area has aquamarine colored water and is perfect on calm days to bring children.
Kailua – Lanikai beach
Located in the southeastern area, this popular and kid
friendly beach has amazing soft sand, beautiful azure blue waters and gorgeous
views of the coast and islands just across from the beach. The narrow sandy beach is extremely busy on
weekends so the best time to enjoy this stretch of beach is mid week time
KuaLoa Beach park – a long stretch of quiet beach and sand with easy parking access and views of the popular China Man’s hat island. Parking is free with great views of the coastline and the Ko’olau mountain range
A horseshoe shape bay that is sheltered with cliffs, this beach is one of the best and safest snorkeling spots on the island and is very popular with tourist and locals alike. To enter the beach, you first have to watch a video at the tourist center to get access and also pay a small entrance fee to the beach. You’ll be amazed at the abundance of tropical fish, marine life and gorgeous corals, so bring all your equipment and water cameras for a real treat. Check out the Hanauma bay website here for more details and information.
North shore family friendly beaches
The North shore is well known for the huge swell and giant
surf that happens during the winter months, but there are plenty of times when
the ocean is more calm with kid friendly beaches and snorkeling spots to enjoy.
Check out some of the popular kid friendly beaches to visit in the North Shore
Waimea Bay Beach park
One of the most visited beaches for the giant rock outcrops that locals love to climb and jump from, the beach scene is very family friendly with a parking area. But come early because those spots fill out quickly. The large stretch of beach is a nice walking, lounging and swimming beach with afternoon swells that pick up late in the day. The bay is relatively calm during the spring to summer time frames.
Kuilima Cove and Turtle Bay
Located just on the northern tip of Oahu and at Turtle Beach park which is relatively quiet as far as beaches go and a good spot for kids to swim in the water. A protected cove area makes this a nice safe spot for kids and also a great place for excellent beach front dining at Turtle Bay.
Sharks Cove at Pupukea beach park
With the rocky Sharks Cove located on one side of the beach and the sheltered snorkeling spot called the Three Tables this perfect beach area for kids is definitely family friendly and safe. Very shallow water and turquoise color, this is a very popular spot for spending the snorkeling or checking out the different tide pools.
Kid friendly beaches on the west side of Oahu
The west side beaches of Oahu tend to be mostly local
beaches with the exception of Aulani (Disney resort). Check out these family
friendly beaches for a slice of local beach life on the west side of the
Waimanalo Beach Recreation park
A vast 75 acre park with a long stretch of sandy beach, Waimanalo is quiet and off the tourist map. Family friendly and water that is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling.
Lagoons at Ko’olina
With over 4 lagoons to choose from and nice easy protected beaches make these family friendly beaches easy and safe for children. The beach is perfect for water sports like Sup boarding, kayaking or even snorkeling in the calm coves.
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Hope that these kid friendly beaches are on your radar when you visit Oahu. There’s plenty of kid friendly beaches in Oahu worth spending a few hours to the entire day to enjoy the outdoors, clear waters and protected beach areas. If you have other fantastic beaches to recommend, share it on the comments section below.
Eating out in Hawaii is very expensive. If you are on a tight budget, you need to plan carefully and know the cheap venues that will save you big time visiting the islands. Check out these top tips and ideas on how to eat cheap in Hawaii and you will enjoy all the wonderful Hawaiian cuisine and local flavors cheap, cheap!
Here’s how to eat cheap in Hawaii
Go to farmers markets in Hawaii
Farmers markets are a perfect place to sample local prepared foods, food trucks and other specialty vendors very cheap. You can buy local produce, finished goods and other cooked/prepared foods from food vendors that will save you big time with your wallet.
Malls are very popular foodie venues with food courts that offer a variety of specialty and local flavors for you to try. Inexpensive local fast food venues like Zippies, L&L foods and Blanes are local favorites throughout the islands along with on Island specialty food venues.
Go to your local Hawaiian grocery store
Outside of finding foods that you can prepare yourself, check out the local deli departments and over the counter take out food departments that are cheap and offer easy to buy prepared foods that you can take home or do a picnic at the beach or a favorite venue.
Food truck venues in Hawaii
Many of the islands offer food truck venues at different locations and times that a very cheap alternative and tasty option that will satisfy your need for delicious and inexpensive dining
Cheap Happy Hour venues in Hawaii
At a fraction of the price of an entrée in many popular restaurants and most hotel eateries, going at happy hour (typically ranging from 3 to 6pm) is a great way to save some bucks. Offering cheap drink specials and pupus or appetizer selections, you’ll taste some yummy foods and drinks for a fraction of those outrageous dining venues at an earlier time frame.
Pack a picnic
From any of the venues above at farmers markets, grocery stores or specialty food purveyors, you can create a unique one of a kind picnic in some of the most scenic locations for a dime (or at least cheaper). Buy your favorite dishes or take out food and you’ll be saving on the per plate mark up, taxes and tips with a nice view (hopefully) at your picnic.
Make your own meals
If you have a condo or timeshare, you will typically have a full kitchen or grilling area that you can take advantage of making meals, preparing your own food for each meal, snacks or even your own happy hour cocktail and pupu time.
Use coupons or two for one dining offers
You can find coupons online or even with popular tour magazines offered at tourist kiosks in many venues. Take advantage of these coupons or popular coupon sites like Groupon to to get a discount on your meals
Shop at the big box stores like Costco, Walmart or Target
Many visitors to the island make Costco or Target their first stop to fill their carts with drinks, snacks and prepared foods or ingredients cheaper for those on a strict budget to save from expensive dining venues. Look for these mega store options to take advantage of the bulk rates and save big time on your favorite food items to prepare and enjoy.
Cheap local take out or local Hawaii food venues
One of the cheapest dinging options would be to look for local food cafes or fast food brands that are popular with local taste and flavors. Favorite local venues include places like L&L food chains, Blanes foods, Zippies, Daichi Ramen and other brands which offer inexpensive local style food to try and enjoy. Many of these venues are located in malls so there is plenty of parking and options to find exactly what you are craving.
Dining at ethnic restaurants in Hawaii
Since Hawaii is home to many nationalities and specifically of Asian heritage, you’ll find inexpensive food venues catering to these ethnic groups. Typically cheap Asian cuisine from Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Thai and even Mexican food are the most popular and cheap alternative to cafes and restaurants. Eating family style and trying out all these different flavors is the way to go when you crave something ethnic and local.
Eat at lunch time, but splurge at business lunch menus
Breakfast and dinners eating in will save you big time, but
if you want to splurge do it during lunch when many places offer lunch specials
to cater to local business/government workers who are looking for cheaper
business lunch special.
A sampling of local favorite dishes and specialty food you can find around the islands
Bento boxes – You can find these Japanese inspired bentos with different types of local foods and not strictly Japanese at fast food eateries, mom and pop stores to even grocery deli counters
Spam musubi – A staple snack with sticky rice and spam wrap
with a seaweed cover like a burrito, it’s fast and cheap and sold in a variety
of take out places to grocery stores
Plate lunch specials – Many cafes, deli counters and grocery stores have plate lunch specials with an entrée, macaroni salad and typically two scoops of rice
Shave ice – a favorite dessert with fluffy shaved ice with a multitude of concentrate tropical juices that is poured over them and sinfully delicious.
Japanese snacks – you can find a variety of popular Japanese snacks including arare, Japanese crackers, nuts and other spiced yummies at many mom and pop shops, Longs drugs stores and grocery stores for sale typically in the Asian sections. Pick up a few that look interesting to try out and enjoy
Moco Loco – Another local favorite with many different
toppings but the classic is scoops of rice with a country fried steak or meat
patty with gravy and topped with a fried egg
Kalua pork – A traditional Hawaiian staple with pulled pork in sandwiches, plate lunches or an entrée with other Hawaiian food
Huli Huli chicken – Rotisserie style chicken that is moist
and tasty that satisfies those with a need for really delicious local chicken
Ramen soup dishes – Ramen is a popular favorite food for
take out or do it yourself with the core ingredients that make this comfort
food easy and delicious
It takes a little bit of planning and research to save money
when you eat out in Hawaii, but these options will give you a sense of eating
out and tasting different local markets and flavors for a fraction of the cost
to dining and save you big time. Enjoy all the local flavors of Hawaii and do
try out all the mom and pop shops in all the islands and your taste buds and
wallet will love your well earned choices.
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