Big Island Hawaii Snorkel Guide – 2 Step Beach And Top Snorkel Spots

Are you planning and trip to the Big Island and looking for the best snorkeling? 2 Step beach, also known as Honaunau Beach, is the perfect spot for snorkeling because it is rich in marine life, has crystal clear waters, flourishing coral and in the mornings, you may even spot dolphins!  If you are wondering if the water is cold, it is actually fairly warm even in December.

2 Step Beach is easily accessible by car and there are no long hikes required to get to this popular snorkel spot. It is located just next to the Place of Refuge in a gorgeous bay outlined by black lava rock.  You won’t find any sand here but that is one of the things that makes this beach intriguing to see.  Hawaii is one of those rare places in the world where you will find these types of beaches.

Guide To Big Island Hawaii Snorkeling at 2 Step Beach. Bonus info about snorkeling at other top spots in Hawaii.

Snorkel Guide to Big Island Hawaii's 2 Step Beach. The best snorkeling on the Big Island!
Get close-ups of this type of fish at 2 Step. They love posing for the camera!
Guide to snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii. Get tips for travel to the Big Island and more on the blog.
Look for the ALOHA spelled with bricks underwater.

Why do they call it 2 step?

There are 2 naturally formed steps that are used by snorkelers and divers to enter the water. Some would even say there are really 3 steps.  The steps are easily found, just look for the many snorkelers entering and exiting the water throughout the day. It is a very popular place to visit!

It can be tricky entering the water so I do not recommend 2 Step Beach for first-time beginner snorkelers. Also, there are sea urchins in the rock steps so please be careful where you put your hands and feet! One thing you don’t want as a souvenir from Hawaii is a sea urchin sting!

The video presented below will show you the 2 steps and how to best enter the water for snorkeling.  Watch before you go so you know exactly what to expect when you get there.  The video will also give you a sneak peek at some of the beautiful things you will see underwater.

Big Island Hawaii Guide to Snorkeling at 2 Step Beach. The best snorkeling on the island!
  • TIP: Bring your own snorkel gear. I watched many get into the water with foggy & leaky masks and have a hard time with rented snorkel gear. I always pack my favorite full face snorkel by Tribord. If curious about these new types of masks, I did on a review of the mask that you can read here. 
Tribord Easybreath Snorkel Gear Review and Pros and Cons
I never travel without my snorkel gear



There is a parking lot directly in front of the beach for $5. The parking lot is fairly small so if it is full, you can also park up the road and take a short walk.

What are other good places to snorkel on the Big Island?

During your research of snorkeling spots on the Big Island, you may hear of Captian Cook. Captain Cook is also considered a top snorkel spot where the snorkeling is as good or better than 2 step beach, however, it is not as easily accessible.

You can reach Captain Cook one of three ways: by paying for a tour, by kayak or with a 2-mile hike (one way). Any kayaks that enter the bay also have to have a permit by law, so its wise to only rent a kayak from companies that have a permit. Using a kayak with no permit can lead you to a fine. The typical price for a kayak for 2 is $65.

Kahaluu Beach

Kahaluu Bay is the best beach for beginner snorkelers and families.  With its close proximity to downtown Kona, Kahaluu is very easy to reach for those staying in the resorts and rental properties nearby. Turtles are frequently seen at Kahaluu along with many varieties of fish that frequent the bay. 

Check out the guide to snorkeling at Kahaluu in this post here.

Big Island of Hawaii turtles
Kahaluu beach is a great place to see turtles.

Need More Info?

I discovered the book below while in Hawaii and I found very helpful. It provides a guide to snorkeling at several beaches on the island.  My Airbnb host had the book to borrow and while some of the information is outdated, it still has some very good information.

The Big Island Guide (below) is by far one of the best guidebooks I have read. The authors provide great tips and I found the opinions very honest. It is like reading “insider” info about the island. Amazon sells it for a pretty good price. I highly recommend it to help with your planning.

More posts about the Big Island including the top things to do and a guide are coming soon! Subscribe to get notified of the next posts. What would you like me to include in the next Big Island Travel Post? Please let me know!

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