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best snorkeling in hawaii

Hawaii, with its stunning volcanic landscapes and clear blue waters, is a snorkeler’s paradise. If you’re in search of the best snorkeling in Hawaii, you’re in for a treat! While each of the Hawaiian Islands offers unique underwater experience, some locations stand out as top choices for snorkel enthusiasts. From the Big Island’s Captain Cook Monument and the serene Place of Refuge in Kailua-Kona to the pristine shores of the South Kona coastline, Hawaii boasts a range of snorkeling destinations, each with its own charm and marine biodiversity. Whether you’re a beginner snorkeler or an experienced diver, Hawaii’s diverse underwater ecosystems promise an unforgettable and immersive aquatic adventure.

Why The Best Snorkeling in Hawaii Is on Big Island

It is no secret that the Hawaiian Islands are some of the most beautiful places in the world. Sunny year-round, makes for almost perfect snorkeling conditions no matter what time of year you visit. What makes Kona an amazing snorkeling destination is some of the best reefs across the state are just a short trip away from the town center! Not renting a car– don’t worry! The best way to experience Kona’s reefs is through a trusted local tour company. All you have to do is shuttle, drive, or uber to the marina where the tour leaves from and everything ranging from snorkeling gear, to juices and water will be included as you venture to one or more of the popular reefs.

Beyond the amazing customer service of the top local tour companies on snorkel tours of Kona Coast, the experience you have will expose you to a wide variety of tropical marine life. From sea turtles to reef fish, even sea urchins! There is hardly a limit to what you may explore on this adventure.

How Far Outside of Kona are the Big Island’s Best Snorkeling Spots?

As mentioned, one of the best parts of snorkeling while staying in Kona is the convenience of having some of the most amazing reefs in the world, a mere stone’s throw away from where you are staying. You can find the popular spots, that we will get to later in the article, scattered around South Kona.

If you are staying on the East Side of the Big Island or generally in the Hilo area, there are less reefs accessible due to a multitude of factors including a more treacherous ocean, harsher weather, and less tropical reefs to explore in general. If you happen to be staying or living on the Hilo-side of the island, the drive to Kona is in and of itself, a great experience!

Where are the Best Snorkeling Destinations Near Me?

The answer you’ve probably been waiting for. Here are our choices for the top three places on the Big Island, and arguably Hawaii as a whole, that we recommend you visit and explore on a snorkeling adventure!

1. Captain Cook Monument on the Big Island of Hawaii

The Captain Cook Monument, nestled along the rugged shoreline of the Big Island inside Kealakekua Bay, is a snorkeling gem and a tribute to Hawaii’s natural and contemporary history. This iconic snorkeling spot, best accessible by boat, is a marine sanctuary. What makes this location particularly special is its thriving coral reef, hundreds of colorful inhabitants, and the warm waters. Snorkelers here have the chance to encounter colorful tropical fish, like Parrotfish and Triggerfish, Hawaiian sea turtles, also known as Honu, and even eels as they explore the vibrant coral reefs beneath the surface. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see the native Hawaiian spinner dolphins towards the deep areas of the bay. The Captain Cook Monument is not just a destination for snorkeling; it’s also a glimpse into Hawaii’s history, as it marks the spot where Captain James Cook was slain. It plays a role in Native Hawaiian history as well, the bay is known as a sacred place for historical and modern day Hawaiians.

Tours of Captain Cook Monument, tend to be the Big Island’s most coveted snorkeling experiences. If you want to ensure that you book a sport aboard one of the Hawaii’s best small tour group experiences- be sure to book with Dolphin Discoveries aboard our Captain Cook snorkel tour ASAP!

2. The Place of Refuge of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

The Place of Refuge, also known as Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, is a cultural and historical treasure located in Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. While it’s renowned for its historical significance, serving as a place of reverence for the Hawaiian people, this site also offers fantastic snorkeling opportunities. The calm and clear waters surrounding the Place of Refuge are a hub for marine life. Much like Captain Cook Monument, snorkelers can explore lush coral reefs full of colorful fish, native Honu gliding gracefully through the water, and even the occasional manta ray. The combination of natural beauty and cultural history makes snorkeling here a unique and enriching experience. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in both the natural wonders of the ocean and the traditions of ancient Hawaii.

To experience the Place of Refuge, it is paramount that you book yourself aboard one of the best Big Island snorkel tour boats! There is really no other way you will be able to gain safe access to this tour site; so be sure and check out availability as soon as you secure your trip dates!

3. The South Kona Coastline Is Big Island’s Best Snorkeling Secret

The South Kona coastline on the Big Island is a hidden gem for snorkeling enthusiasts seeking tranquility and natural beauty. Unlike some of the busier snorkeling areas on the island, South Kona offers a more serene and less crowded experience, complete with hidden sea caves and lava tubes. Its coastline is dotted with lava rock formations, and pristine beaches (some even with black sand), making it an ideal setting for underwater exploration.

All in all, you can’t go wrong exploring these three spots for the best snorkeling in Hawaii! Be sure to check out all your tour options and read more about how you can snag your spot aboard an amazing local tour today!