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Great spots for Snorkeling in Hawai’i

Snorkeling near Coral Reef in Hawaii

Snorkeling in Hawai’i is a wonderful way to enjoy the island environment. Here are a few of our favorite spots on the Big Island. 

Kahalu’u Bay

Kahalu’u Bay, situated on the west coast near Kailua-Kona, stands out as one of the Big Island’s premier snorkeling destinations. This bay draws snorkelers with its calm, clear waters, and vibrant marine life. Its popularity lies in the abundant array of colorful fish and graceful green sea turtles that can be encountered here. Conveniently, you’ll find snorkel gear rental shops nearby, making it accessible for visitors of all experience levels.

Sea Turtle Swimming Underwater

Two Step at Honaunau Bay

Two Step, located near Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, offers a unique underwater experience. Its name derives from the natural two-step entry into the water. The area is renowned for its pristine coral reefs, diverse marine life, and excellent visibility. Snorkelers can expect to encounter a wide range of fish species, including the iconic Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the Hawaiian state fish.

Beach 69

Beach 69, also known as Waialea Beach, graces the Kohala Coast with its secluded beauty. This idyllic beach is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and superb snorkeling opportunities. Beneath the surface, snorkelers can explore intricate coral formations and observe various species of fish. Nearby facilities such as restrooms and picnic tables make it a convenient and enjoyable spot for a day of snorkeling.


Honokohau, found within the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park just north of Kailua-Kona, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. Snorkelers in this area can explore underwater lava tubes, ancient fishponds, and a rich diversity of marine life. Beyond the snorkeling experience, visitors can also dive into Hawaiian culture and history as they explore the historical sites within the park. As with any snorkeling spot, it’s essential to check local conditions, respect the marine environment, and prioritize safety while enjoying these beautiful locations.

Choose your Sunscreen Wisely

Use Reef-Friendly Sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen that is labeled as “reef-safe” or “oxybenzone-free.” Chemicals in many sunscreens harm coral reefs when washed off in the water. Check this list of reef-safe sunscreens and consider buying a Hawaiian-made brand online or when you arrive. Kokua Sun Care and Little Hands Hawai’i are two personal favorites.

Some Snorkeling Safety Tips

Snorkeling in Hawaii is a fantastic way to observe and appreciate beautiful marine life, but it’s crucial to do so responsibly to protect the environment and ensure your safety. Here are some rules and guidelines to follow when snorkeling in Hawaii:

No Touching: Never touch, handle, or harass marine life, including coral, fish, sea turtles, seals, dolphins, and other creatures. Touching coral can damage it, and touching or chasing wildlife can stress or harm the animals.

Maintain a Safe Distance: Keep a respectful and safe distance from all marine life. For sea turtles, it’s required to maintain a distance of at least 10 feet (3 meters). For Monk Seals, Dolphins and Whales stay 50 feet away and you’ll still be able to enjoy the experience! Avoid crowding or surrounding any animals.

Avoid Standing on Coral: Never stand or walk on coral reefs. Even seemingly dead or fragile coral can be vital to the ecosystem, and standing on it can cause irreparable damage.

Stay on Established Paths: If you are entering the water from the shore, use established paths or entry points to avoid trampling on sensitive coastal areas.

Pack Out What You Pack In: Do not leave any trash or litter behind, and pick up any trash you may encounter. Dispose of it properly in designated receptacles.

Respect Protected Areas: Be aware of marine protected areas (MPAs) and follow any additional rules and regulations specific to those areas. Some areas may have restrictions on fishing or snorkeling.

Swim with a Buddy: Snorkel with a buddy, and keep an eye on each other in the water. This is not only safer but can be more enjoyable as you share the experience.

Know Your Limits: Only snorkel within your skill and comfort level. If you’re a beginner or unfamiliar with a particular area, consider going with a guided tour or seeking local advice.

Protect the Environment: Be an advocate for the marine environment. Educate yourself about Hawaii’s unique ecosystems and the threats they face, and support conservation efforts when possible.

Enjoy your Adventure

The Hawaiian Islands are amazing above and below the water and we hope you are as entranced with the beauty as we are. By following these tips and guidelines, you can enjoy snorkeling in Hawaii while helping to preserve the natural beauty and health of the marine environment for future generations. Remember that responsible snorkeling benefits both you and the fragile ecosystems you explore.

These are a few of the locals businesses we recommend for more adventures.