Kahalu’u Beach Park – snorkeling, swimming and surfing fun in the bay
Kahalu’u Beach Park located just south of Kona town is one of the best spots for snorkeling and swimming on the west side of the island. Located In a protected cove, the beach and snorkeling area is abundant with fish and coral have made this a protected marine sanctuary that makes it one the best and easy snorkeling spots on the west side if not the entire island for snorkeling fun. Kahalu’u beach park is easy and convenient to town with good sized parking. The beautiful beach and protected cove areas really makes it an ideal place for snorkeling fun. Just make sure you get there early or later in the day to avoid most of the crowds and waiting for a parking space to open up.
About Kahalu’u Beach Park
The cove is almost completely protected and surrounded by large rocks and prevents big waves from destroying the shallow reef areas below while allowing the nutrients from the ocean to filter in and feed the population inside the reef area. The abundance and variety of fish here makes it very colorful and the tropical fish are used to humans snorkeling all around the area and even bold enough to nibble on you when you’re not expecting it. The shallow waters around the reef make it a perfect habitat for the many tropical fish to hide in all the healthy coral beds that thrive in the reef and feeds most of the marine life in the bay.
History of Kahalu’u Beach
Kahalu’u Bay has a history past that includes royal residences from the 18th to 19th century and having an ancient civilization starting over 500 years ago. There is a heiau on the northern side of the bay called Kuʻemanu Heiau, and overlooking a surf break that was popular in ancient times and also today. The heiau was used regularly with ancient Hawaiians praying for good surfing conditions and to also spot other surfers on the water.
There is a large lava rock wall that protects most of the cove area and blocks the large currents from entering. Mostly small waves skirt over the outer rock wall making snorkeling and swimming safe in the protected area. Surfing further out from the lava rock walls on the far side make it a fun local surfing spot and a popular pastime here.
Kahalu’u beach park activities and things to do
Snorkeling the small beach area and into the small bay is very popular with amazing coral and marine life you’ll find in the sheltered cove.
Swimming is also good and safe in the protected cove area
Surfing at the far end from the lava rock barriers is popular riding nice waves into the bay
There is food truck in the parking lot area for picking up drinks local foods
There is also a marine information center and you can rent snorkel gear from the information desk or across the street in a shop if you did not bring any. Paddle board and surfing classes are offered through the outfitter across the street from the beach area.
Entering the snorkeling areas
Most of Kahalu’u is lava rock with small patches of sandy beaches and the best entry point is the sandy area fronting the lifeguard station on the south side of the beach and enter directly on the sandy bottom areas and not the lava rock which can be slippery. Entry to the shallow reef areas is easy from the sandy beach access, making it a family friendly beach to enjoy even with children. Once around the reef go towards the middle areas where the water is clear and there are larger coral heads to explore. Typical fish you’ll find in the area includes parrot fish, damsel fish, sea urchin, star fishes, trigger and angel fish, goat fish, the state fish called humuhumunukunukuapuaa and a host of crabs, shell fish, eels, crustaceans and even honu or green sea turtles that love to eat the seaweed and bask in the rocky areas of the bay. The turtles are protected federal and state marine life and you need to stay at a mandatory 10-foot distance from them to give them space and privacy.
Tip – it is easier to put on your snorkel gear in the water and on the sandy soil instead of the rocks to balance yourself. Also avoid the surf area to the right with the surf breaks coming directly on the lava rock areas.
Amenities at Kahalu’u beach
A large pavilion area with picnic tables
Showers and restroom areas
Parking area and street parking is free
Life guard stations
Rental of equipment at the Kahalʻu Bay Education Center which also does some easy talks and orientation to corals and typical fish you will find in the area.
There typically is a food truck or snow cone truck that is stationed at the entrance of the beach park for brisk business – they also have lockers for use for the day.
Check out this fun video experience snorkeling at Kahalu’u beach park
Details to snorkeling at Kahalu’u for your safety
Always pay attention to what the lifeguards are announcing on the speakers
Avoid snorkeling the rougher surf areas to the right
There are some currents running in the area so look up occasionally to spot yourself and make adjustments to avoid the surf or bigger wave action that breaks in certain pockets.
If you are in trouble just raise on hand above your head to signal to the lifeguard on duty to get their attention.
Coral beds are alive so do not walk on them or even touch them because of their fragile nature
There is a current that changes and can be strong at times pulling you further north and also out of the bay, so always keep alert, spotting yourself and making adjustments.
Make sure to use reef safe sunscreen to protect the bay. If you did not bring reef safe sunscreen, ask the education center for a squirt from their bottle which is available or you can buy some from them directly.
How to get to Kahalu’u beach
Kahalu’u beach is less than twenty minutes from the airport if you want to make a beeline directly from the airport terminal to Kahalu’u for your first snorkel swim. From downtown Kona on Alii drive it is less than 5 miles south to the beach. You can also take the local trolley or an Uber to take you to the beach directly.
Other things to do in Kailua Kona area
Check out these top things to do in Kona now
Enjoy a beach day on a white sandy beach at Magic Sands Beach
Visit the farmers markets in Kona
A fun hike to Makalawena Beach on the Big Island
Hiking to the gorgeous Pu’u wa’a wa’a up country
Enjoy a beach day at Kua Bay
Fly into Kona International airport and information
Conclusion to visiting Kahalu’u Beach Park
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