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kealakekua bay snorkel

The most popular place to snorkel on the Big Island of Hawaii is Kealakekua Bay. You may have heard of the most popular reefs that exist in the different inlets and around the shores of the popular bay. The two most popular spots both within and around Kealakekua Bay are the Place of Refuge and Captain Cook Monument.

Keep reading if you want to learn more about the different coral reefs and how you can maximize your time experiencing the majesty of a Kealakekua Bay snorkel.

Swim Around the Reef of Captain Cook Monument on a Kealakekua Bay Snorkel

Captain Cook Monument is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful snorkeling spots in all of Hawaii. The coral reef is lush with hundreds of tropical fish, aquatic plants, and various marine creatures. The shallow waters are perfect for families or beginner snorkelers as well as the lack of rough seas as this specific snorkel destination is sheltered from the open ocean.

A bay is a perfect way to get the hang of using a snorkel, whether it is either your first time ever, or first time in a while. Our recommendation when it comes to snorkeling Kealakekua Bay, specifically Captain Cook Monument, is to book with a local snorkel tour company out of Kona. This will not only ensure that you are being taken care of by the captain and guides, but that you have all you need for a successful day in and on the water. What’s greater is that a guided snorkel tour of Captain Cook Monument means that the captain can guide you to the areas of the reef with the most activity and will give you the full run through on how to be ecologically responsible.

Explore Kealakekua Bay’s Neighbor: the Place of Refuge on a Kona Snorkel

Arguably one of the most sacred sites in all of Hawaii, the Place of Refuge, located in Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is another extremely popular reef along the Kona Coast. Neighboring Kealakekua Bay, it is the perfect follow up spot from your time in the reef at Captain Cook Monument.

If you book your snorkel with a local tour company you may get a chance to drop into both coral reefs during one trip. These snorkel tours are typically longer so be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water as you’ll have ample time, at both, to swim around at both. Check out our Kona Snorkel Tour that ventures to both places in small groups!

Spot a Spinner Dolphin Pod in Kealakekua Bay

An open secret of Kealakekua is the spinner dolphin population towards the deeper waters in the middle of the bay. This also serves as another reason to book a guided snorkel tour with a local company over venturing out on a Kealakekua Bay snorkel on your own. With a trusted tour boat you will have the reassurance that they are practicing ecologically driven practices to keep both the guests aboard the boat and the marine life below safe.

With that being said, aboard the boat on your trip to the reef, you may get to see a pod of spinner dolphins as they choose to frequent the deep middle of Kealakekua. 

No matter what time of year, day, or type of snorkel experience you choose however, Kealakekua bay is an amazing place to drop into the water.