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.
There are a few tour outfitters that go to Captain Cook and this sailing and snorkeling adventure tour is one of the best outfits to book a fantastic cruise and snorkel experience.
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.