On a two week trip to the Big Island Hawaii, I spent the first several days testing out the waters for safe, local and best beaches for snorkeling in Kona. The Island has many beautiful beaches but only specific beaches are best for snorkeling since the waters of Hawaii can have strong shore breaks, currents and swells.
I found Kahaluu Beach which is not too far from downtown Kona and a well-known beach for snorkeling. Kahaluu has many visitors and you may find many families here since it has fairly calm and shallow waters perfect for beginner snorkelers and children. There is also a lifeguard on duty.
Many species of fish frequent the bay which is protected by a natural rock wall. Not only will you see fish, but you may even spot eels or turtles. The fish at Kahaluu seem to be very used to humans and you will find them very close to shore without having to go very far.
You will find a poster, just in front of the lifeguard tower that displays the types of fish that live in the bay and what they are called. I don’t know how many times I have seen a cool fish and wondered what it was, so I found this poster very helpful!
The coral is somewhat damaged close to shore due to people standing on the coral and the high number of visitors, but if you swim out to the middle of the bay where it gets a bit deeper, you will find healthier coral and even more fish. Just steer clear of the surfers that surf to the far right of the beach.
Sea Urchins love to make their homes in between rocks and among the coral. Stay aware and always be careful where you put your hands and feet even on the shoreline. As a rule, people should never stand up on coral because it damages the coral, so you if follow this rule you will most likely steer clear of sea urchins by not putting your hands and feet where they don’t belong.
Turtles are commonly found at Kahaluu. One of the highlights of your trip to Hawaii will most likely be of swimming with turtles. They are amazing! Please remember to respect the turtles and do not touch or chase. The best way to see a turtle is to be calm in the water, kick your fins gently, slowly and slightly below the surface so that you do not look like a threat to the turtles, fish or other marine life. If you follow this, a turtle will most likely find you instead of you having to chase or hunt them down. I promise!
Visiting Kahaluu Beach – There is a parking lot, showers, bathrooms and even tables at Kahaluu. A food truck that sells hotdogs, cheeseburgers, shaved ice and ice cream is just near the parking lot if you find yourself in need of a snack. The truck also offers lock boxes to store your valuables – the cost is $5.
Snorkel Gear Rental – There is a shop across the street that rents snorkel gear, boogie boards and they even offer surfing lessons. I always recommend packing your own snorkel gear on trips because the snorkel gear that you can rent is not always the best and god knows if they have sanitized it properly! I recommend the full face masks like the one below. This is my go-to snorkel gear. You can also read more about them here.
I also recommend sticking around for a sunset. The views are quite amazing. If you are heading for a trip to the Big Island, have a great time!
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