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snorkeling dolphins on the big island hawaii

If you are looking to swim amongst some of the most colorful fish in the world, look no further than the Big Island of Hawaii! From parrotfish to triggerfish, there is so much to see in the world underwater.


We want to bring you through what you can expect to see while snorkeling the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island and which reefs may yield the best results for your adventure.


Kona vs Hilo: Which Side of Hawaii’s Big Island is the Best for Snorkeling


The Big Island is the largest isle within the state of Hawaii. Because of this, the two distinct “sides” of the island have palpable differences. Hilo has very few places that are good for dropping into the water and swimming, the most notable of them being Richardson’s Ocean Park. Known for its black sand beach and calmer waters compared to any other area of Hilo’s coast; this is the best place to explore the reefs. That being said, the East side of the Big Island, also known as Hilo Side, is not ideal for snorkeling. It has rougher seas which not only make it a place for more experienced snorkelers and swimmers, but dilutes the visibility of the water.


Kona’s Coast is where you want to go if you are looking to explore the ocean blue and colorful reefs. Home to many tropical reef fish and lush bays, Kona is a snorkeler’s paradise. Perfect for those looking to just rent gear and head out or those who are looking to make a day of fascinating underwater encounters, aboard a snorkel tour boat; Kona is undoubtedly the best place to embark on an adventure.


Should I Snorkel in the Open Ocean or Bays on the Big Island?


By far and away, we would recommend snorkeling within the calm bays of the Big Island. Not only do open ocean waters pose more of a risk but there aren’t as many reefs, and therefore reef fish, as there are in the enclosed inlets. That being said, the ocean waters can be quite fun aboard a tour boat when pertaining to an ocean whale watch or dolphin watch trip. These larger mammals tend to opt for the deeper water to congregate in pods.


Luckily, there are many different snorkel trip experiences that can accommodate different preferences. If you are looking to combine time in the water, specifically to explore the shallow reefs filled with tropical fish, with an engaging whale watching experience– be sure to check out Dolphin Discoveries Dolphin Watching Tour!


Why Hawaii’s Big Island is the Best for Snorkeling


Overall, if you are looking to view the best selection of tropical fish, be sure to check out the reefs around Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii. While different areas of the islands may introduce you to different marine species; the bays of Kona will yield the best chance to see hundreds of tropical fish. Unlike anywhere else in the world, Hawaii snorkeling is accessible to everyone– no matter what your experience level is; on that note, if you are a beginner or wanting to ensure the best time out on the water possible, make sure to check out a daytime snorkeling tour with a knowledgeable captain.