Two Step (Honaunau Bay)

Many people rightly consider Two Step as one of the most beautiful sites in the Hawaii archipelago. Deep blue crystal-clear waters, spectacular coral seabeds, hundreds of multi-colored fish swimming in shoals, green turtles and even regular visits from dolphins and seals – Two Step is quite simply a must for snorkeling in Hawaii, both for beginners or experienced snorkelers.
How to get there?

Honaunau Bay is on the west coast of the island of Hawaii, some 12 miles (20km) south of Kailua-Kona. From this town or Captain Cook, take route 11 south (Volcano), then head for the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, which is well signposted on the right. Follow the road to the end. There (at the Park entrance), you can park in the parking lot ($5 per vehicle) or (with more uncertain success) in the streets nearby. The spot is in a small cove that you will see to your right (when you are facing the sea) at the entrance to the Park.

Water entrance

You enter the water from a barrier of black volcanic rock running parallel with Honaunau Beach Road, opposite a small attended parking lot. First, locate the two natural steps carved into the rocks, which gave the spot its nickname (Two Step). If you can’t see them, ask the other snorkelers present (you will rarely be alone) to point them out to you. Here, once you have your equipment and you are sitting on the steps, you can get into the water without great difficulty. Make a note of the place, since this is also where you will leave the water, while keeping an eye out for the sea urchins that sometimes take up their abode on the rock face.

Aerial view


When the weather is calm, you can explore the entire bay. The coral is the most spectacular and the animal life most plentiful on the reefs to your left when you enter the water (↕7-14ft/2-4m). Here too you will also come across green turtles, which often rest on the seabed, in the hollows of the rocks. Don’t disturb them. If you wait a little, you will probably see them coming up to the surface to breathe.

The central part of the bay is the deepest (↕14-20ft/4-6m). The animal life is also more plentiful there, but the depth does not make photography easy. On the other hand, this is an area where small groups of spinner dolphins and a few Hawaiian monk seals regularly visit. With a little luck and patience (arrive very early), you could live one of your best snorkeling experiences. So as not to affect their wild nature and to prevent accidents, don’t interact with the wildlife. The laws of the state of Hawaii are particularly strict on this point.

Snorkeling Report Dolphins Two Step Big Island Hawaii
Spinner dolphins at Two Step

Almost everywhere, you can see spectacular shoals of yellow tang and small groups of raccoon butterflyfish. You will come across a wide variety of other fish, such as boxfish, trumpetfish and pufferfish. The wealth of the animal life on display will no doubt lead you to spend more time in the water than you planned, so protect yourself from the sun.

The bay is relatively protected, but in the absence of a coral reef, it is still exposed to the sea waves. Postpone your swim if the sea is too rough, particularly because entering and leaving the water near the rocks can prove dangerous.

Restaurants & accommodation

There are no restaurants on the site. At the Park reception, you can buy bottles of water at reasonable prices.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    Intermediary level
  • Maximum depth
    20ft (6m)
  • Water entrance
    A little complicated, from lava rocks
  • Potential Dangers
    Usual precautions
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Two Step (Honaunau Bay)

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Spinner dolphin
Stenella longirostris Frequent
Green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas Common
Yellow tang
Zebrasoma flavescens
Orange band surgeonfish
Acanthurus olivaceus
Threadfin butterflyfish
Chaetodon auriga
Raccoon butterflyfish
Chaetodon lunula
Pebbled butterflyfish
Chaetodon multicinctus
Ornate butterflyfish
Chaetodon ornatissimus
Mailed butterflyfish
Chaetodon reticulatus
Melon butterflyfish
Chaetodon trifasciatus
Lined butterflyfish
Chaetodon lineolatus
Lagoon triggerfish
Rhinecanthus aculeatus
Reef triggerfish
Rhinecanthus rectangulus
Black triggerfish
Melichthys niger
Saddle wrasse
Thalassoma duperrey
Green birdmouth wrasse
Gomphosus caeruleus
Show all species
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?
  • Laura MacGregor

    Of course, nobody told the sea creatures we’re not supposed to interact with them! The turtles are so interested in snorkelers they were getting in the way as we tried to enter the water. Totally amazing experience.