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snorkeling on the big island of hawaii

When planning your trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, snorkeling on the Big Island is most likely at the top of your list of activities to do; and if it isn’t, it should be! There is a wide array of tropical fish, large and small marine mammals, as well as giant manta rays– all just off of Kona’s shores.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed as you go through all the different guided snorkeling experiences offered juxtaposed with lists of the top reefs to snorkel on the Big Island. With so much choice, here’s how you can sift through and make the best decision to book a snorkel on the Big Island that best fits your goals and skill level!

Why Booking a Snorkeling Tour on the Big Island is the Best Plan

While experienced snorkelers and swimmers may believe that they have what it takes to plan a near perfect day on the water, there is so much to see that is only available through booking a snorkel trip aboard an accredited boat.

While spots like Captain Cook monument allow for snorkelers, who just rented their gear, to drop in– you only will gain access to the nearest reefs. When you book a snorkel trip, like the Dolphin Discoveries Kona Snorkel Tours, you not only will be anchored at the most active reefs within the bay but you will get to drop into the water at multiple offshore reefs along the Kona Coast. You are able to explore those reefs that you have read about online; all while capping off the day relaxing aboard the boat. You’ll also get the chance to speak with a knowledgeable captain and crew who can educate you on what you’re seeing underwater and the ecological significance of each creature.

How Can You Ensure You are Booking the Best Snorkel Tour on the Big Island for You/Your Group?

Ensuring that you book the best Big Island snorkeling tour for you or your group involves a few essential steps. Begin by defining your snorkeling preferences, such as the type of marine life you want to encounter and the level of adventure you seek. For example, there are some tours that last over four hours and venture to many popular snorkeling locations, while others still give ample time in the water around the most popular coral reefs in sheltered bays, but are shorter and better for less experienced snorkelers. Research snorkel tour operators on the Big Island and read reviews to gauge their reputation and customer satisfaction. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak tourist seasons.

What to Pack for a Day of Snorkeling on the Big Island

What to pack for snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii, depends on what experience you are planning to take part in. For example, if you are booking a manta ray night snorkel aboard a tour boat, be sure to pack a change of clothes for after you get out of the wetsuit. This can be contrasted with a daytime snorkel tour where you may get a chance to dry off aboard the boat under the sun, in that case however, a reef safe sunscreen is a must!

If you plan to forego any type of guided experience, you’ll need to do your research and talk with a trusted dive shop or gear rental in order to determine what you need to rent based on where you are going and your experience level.

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 Coast is where you want to go if you are looking to explore the ocean blue and colorful reefs aka the best snorkeling on the Big Island. 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.

The Underwater World Available When Snorkeling on the Big Island

From hundreds of tropical fish to manta rays and spinner dolphins, snorkeling of the Big Island of Hawaii is filled with magic. Many visitors try to plan their underwater experience around different popular seasons on the island; for example, during the winter months you may hear whales singing underwater as they spend their time here before returning to Alaska. While planning around certain times of the year may increase your chance of having these intimate experiences with marine life, nothing is guaranteed. Factors like weather, time of day, as well as the general movement patterns of Hawaiian sealife, can all affect what you will see while snorkeling in Hawaii.

The best way to plan a snorkel on the Big Island is to weigh the pros and cons of a guided tour versus renting your own gear, the different snorkel trips offered, and which company and experience best aligns with your experience and goals for the day!

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 morning snorkeling tour on the Big Island with a knowledgeable captain.

Our Recommendation for the Best Snorkeling on the Big Island.

Your ideal snorkeling on the Big Island should take into accommodation your preferences whether that be length, time of day, time in the water, and wildlife that you wish to see. That is why the best Big Island snorkel tours should offer a variety of experiences for everyone! Here at Dolphin Discoveries we have something accessible to everyone. Take a look at our Captain Cook snorkeling experience or even our Kona private boat charter options that really open up the day for whatever you would like to experience!