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snorkel trip Big Island Hawaii

There are few things better than spending your day out on the Pacific Ocean. For the Big Island, an ocean activity can either be taken leisurely or serve as a time of thrill and excitement; depending on how you plan your time in and on the water. Our favorite thing to do in the ocean is to snorkel– on the Big Island of Hawaii, this is even more special as Kona’s Coast is home to some of the most diverse and interesting marine species on the planet.


From tropical reef fish, to spinner dolphins and even Humpback whales; the ultimate experience when visiting Hawaii’s youngest island is a snorkeling trip. With so many options to choose from, we want to break down our top tips when it comes to planning your undersea adventure.


The Best Time of Day (and year) to Snorkel on the Big Island, Hawaii


The best time of day as well as time of the year to snorkel on the Big Island of Hawaii is up for debate; there are pros and cons to pretty much every option. While you can’t swim alongside the humpback population, during the winter and early spring months you have the chance of hearing them singing from around the different bays, with your head just below the surface of the water. On the other hand, the summer is an exciting time to snorkel on the Big Island and it is hands-down the most refreshing and rewarding activity to do in the sweltering heat.


When it comes to the best time of day to snorkel on the Big Island, that also is completely subjective to what experiences you would like to have! For example, the shallow reefs of some of Kona’s most popular snorkeling destinations are most active during the early morning and later on in the afternoon. This means that you would want to either book a morning trip, like our Kona Snorkel Tour, or plan to leave early from your hotel if you are looking to rent your own gear. On the other hand, the manta ray night snorkel tours are only available after sunset as this is the time where we can attract phytoplankton (a manta’s favorite food) to us in order to facilitate close encounters. The night snorkels are only available through booking a tour with an accredited snorkel trip company as they require previous swim and snorkel experience.


Renting Gear vs Booking a Big Island Snorkeling Tour


Many people may feel more inclined to just rent gear, and try and craft a snorkel trip of their own based off of the top Google searches; This is ill advised. While many bays along Kona’s coast are shallow and can accommodate the beginner snorkel, they are quite large. It can be hard to determine where to drop in, where the reefs are, and how to avoid any sudden natural occurrences like rip tides or coming into contact with different marine life. 


This is not to say that you won’t be able to snorkel if you are not an expert in all these different areas, however, you will quickly find that a more rewarding and fun snorkel trip would be with a trusted boat company who has experience in navigating these different obstacles. This is the safest and truly most enjoyable way to spend the day snorkeling while visiting the Big Island.


If you do choose to rent your own gear, make sure to go to a trusted dive shop near you and have the gear inspected to make sure that it is up to code before rushing out to the ocean.


Respect the Aina: Leave no Trace


The arguably most important thing to keep in mind when planning your snorkeling experience on the Big Island, besides safety as a first priority, is respecting the natural world. The “aina” roughly translates to: the land and what it produces; is at the heart of Hawaiian life. The reason that the coral reefs of Kona’s coast are so lush is that there is a great pride in preserving their beauty as well as the life that lives and feeds off of them.


The best way to snorkel in the safest and most environmentally responsible way is to book with a trusted tour company. There they will make sure to guide you on how to interact with the underwater wildlife in a way that preserves the ecosystem and keeps everyone safe.


Overall, a snorkeling trip on the Big Island is truly the most fantastic way to spend a day. Make sure that you check out some of the tours we offer and check out our other articles around the best snorkeling practices and places to visit during your stay!