New year: Snorkeling in Kona

Snorkeling invites you to discover and relish the secrets of the underwater world. When you don the mask, breathing tube, and flippers, you become immersed in a whole other world, seeing what lies beneath come alive right before your eyes. Snorkeling is better to experience first-hand than to take someone else’s word for it.


Snorkelers come to Kona, Hawaii, to experience some of the best snorkeling available on the planet. What makes Kona so special? You might say . . . everything! Incredibly clear water (visibility up to 50 feet or more in some places), various depths, variety of sea life, warm weather, and availability of rental gear make Kona, the leeward (or dry side) district on the western coast of the Big Island, a must-see for snorkelers.

“The best snorkeling spots of the Big Island are concentrated at the west coast beaches of the Big Island.”

Snorkeling Hot Spots

When nature lovers travel to Hawaii Island, they’re looking to dive (literally) into the wildlife around them. Snorkeling is a water sport that has its own special place among the many ways to experience nature. Here are some of the best places to go in search of manta rays, cauliflower coral, and spotted puffer fish.

Kealakekua Bay, a 24-minute ride south from Kona Reef Resort, is frequented by locals and tourists alike. If you spend enough time there, you’re likely to see “whales, manta rays, spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, and more.”

“Kealakekua, also known as “Captain Cook” is an underwater marine sanctuary, with dolphins and sea turtles.”

La’aloa Bay Beach (or Magic Sands Beach Park) is a bit closer to the resort. Snorkelers can find coral arches and caves. Beware of tidal shifts and sea urchins. Body surfing is especially popular here.

The closest snorkeling haven is Kamakahonu Beach, just a mile from the resort. By swimming out to the right, beyond the pier into Kailua Bay, you can avoid the boats. Here you’ll find coral, fish, and sea turtles.

“Kona snorkeling offers dozens of truly great spots to see hundreds of species of fish–from small yellow tangs and rock sitters to larger parrot fish, peacock groupers, and jacks. You may even see manta rays, spotted eagle rays, turtles, dolphins, and moray eels.”

Of course there are dozens of other bays and coves worth exploring. Several are farther north of Kailua-Kona. If you’re willing to drive a bit, you might explore the east coast as well. Outfitters can take you on a variety of snorkeling tours, even promising you’ll encounter a manta ray or two. Snorkeling is the way humans can act like a fish – to learn about them, we must become like them!

Where to Stay

Kona Reef is a comfortable four-story resort located on the lush western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. The resort features a swimming pool, hot tub, and barbecue grills, and each unit has either a patio or balcony. From some units you can enjoy views of a verdant garden or the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. Kona Reef is just a 10 minute walk from the historic fishing village of Kailua Kona, a quaint town home to many wonderful restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries.



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