From Sea Turtles to Tropical Fish: 5 Things You May See on a Big Island Snorkel Trip
There will be so many things you will see when exploring the waters of Hawaii. From small native reef fish to the largest mammals on the planet– here is our list of the top things you might see on a Big Island snorkel trip.
1. Hawaiian Sea Turtles (Honu)
As Hawaii’s favorite semi-aquatic animal, the Hawaiian sea turtles are some of the most sought after sights for eager tourists visiting the islands. These creatures can grow to be quite large and can be found both lounging on the hot sand or swimming along the reefs. There is a chance you may get to see one of these animals if you book your snorkeling tour aboard a boat leaving in the morning. However, even if these sea creatures come towards you, resist the urge to touch them. Touching a sea turtle can be harmful to the animal and may put you at risk as well. The rule of thumb is keeping a 10 foot or greater distance from the sea turtle both on land and at sea.
2. Kona’s Spinner Dolphins
Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins are undoubtedly a playful bunch. While swimming with wild dolphins has been prohibited with new legislation, certain dolphin watching experiences will work to create a close encounter, aboard the boat, adhering to safe and ecologically responsible practices. If you are snorkeling in some of Kona’s most popular bays, like Captain Cook, you may even get to spot a pod of these dolphins from the shallow reefs as they are known to frequent the deeper waters of the island’s inlets.
3. Manta Rays
Fastly becoming the most sought after snorkel experience in Kona is the manta ray night dive. Here you will get to come face to face with the island’s large and seemingly prehistoric creatures. These gentle giants feed off of phytoplankton at the water’s surface. These plankton are attracted to light which is why the bay next to the bustling Kona Sheraton is teaming with their activity. Booking a manta ray night snorkel will put you practically above the action as you will see them dance along the shallow bottom and even perform “barrel rolls” right beneath you!
4. Humpback Whales
Surprisingly, the Pacific humpback whale is native to Hawaii, although it is a seasonal resident. Each year from around the months of November to March, the world’s largest mammals will make the nearly month and a half long trek down to Hawaii. There the females will either mate with male humpbacks or give birth to baby whale calves. During these magical months you will have the chance to hear the male whale’s song under the water, see young calves playing and learning to swim, and even full breaches out of the water just off the coast!
One of the most popular reef fish in Hawaii, the parrotfish is a bright frequenter to Kona’s bays. Their neon colors will surely catch your eye as you are swimming along. Typically in the shallow reefs they stay relatively small, but some parrotfish can grow up to 4 feet! What’s even more unique is you can find seven different types of parrotfish in Hawaii.
What am I Guaranteed to See on a Big Island Snorkel?
The honest answer is, there is no guarantee on what you will see when snorkeling on the Big Island. While accredited snorkel tour boats can give you the greatest chance of seeing as much as you can, the time of year, time of day, weather conditions, amongst so many other factors out of human control will dictate what your underwater experience will be like.