Hawaii Snorkeling Hotspots
There’s nothing better than spending lazy days moseying through an underwater wonderland, and Hawaii has no shortage of places to choose from. On my recent trip, I visited The Big Island and Oahu, and found some awesome places to snorkel. I’m sure there’s many more places that I haven’t discovered, but here’s what I thought of the snorkeling spots I found…
Kahaluu Beach Park, The Big Island
Kahaluu Beach Park is only a 15min drive (or 25min lazy bicycle ride) south of Kailua-Kona town. You can literally step into a snorkeling paradise from the beach, in protected waters. I went snorkeling here twice for hours each time. The coral is not very colourful, but the fish are just amazing. Highlights included: schools of yellow fish who weren’t afraid to swim around me; the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (I know right??) that was so cheeky it kept trying to nip my flippers when I turned my head; and the huge turtle who snuck up on people only metres from the shore.
Waikoloa Beach, The Big Island
I stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort on the north western coast of the Big Island for my friend’s wedding. While I was there I thought I’d try out the snorkeling on Waikoloa Beach. There’s a rental place for getting all the gear you need, and if you ask they’ll give you tips on where to swim to for the best snorkeling. Basically, the visibility is terrible for the first 50 meters. So, if you’re not a confident swimmer, don’t bother. But if you are, swim out to where the buoy marker is (out where the boats are) and you’ll get to see some pretty cool coral formations and various fish. It’s quite deep there, but the formations come up pretty close to the water surface.
Turtle Bay, Oahu
This spot gets 3 starfish rating simply because of the turtles, but then I guess the name was a dead giveaway. The coral and fish here are either non-existent or few & far between, but this beach is where the turtles come to feed, and they do not disappoint. The visibility was not great on the day I was there, but others said it can be very clear some days.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Without a doubt, the best spot on my trip was Hanauma Bay, just south of Waikiki on Oahu. Luckily, I was given a tip to go at sunrise (6am) when the park first opens. Not only do you get free entry, but there are no queues & mandatory video session, and not many people in the water until you’re about to go home. Not to mention, there’s no need for sunscreen at that time of day (bonus!) and yet the water and air temperature are still just as warm. You can just catch the bus there, but not at 6am, so I paid $25 through Hanauma Bay Tours, which includes a shuttle there and back, snorkeling gear, and some interesting commentary on the way there.
As for the snorkeling, the visibility was excellent, the bay is brimming with coral and scores of colourful fish, and there’s enough beach for snorkel around and not see many people (assuming you take my advice and go early).