The island of Hawaii (often called “Big Island”) is the biggest of the Hawaiian Islands. It has 260 miles (430km) of coastline, but few beaches, and only the west coast of the island is really suitable for snorkeling.
Big Island, with its active volcanoes, is notably the most recent of the Hawaiian Islands. The coral formations are very recent and develop a few meters from the shore. They are probably the most beautiful and best preserved in the main Hawaiian Islands. You won’t find spots protected by a barrier reef on Big Island, but only recent hard coral reefs opening on to the sea. Most snorkeling spots are accessible from the rocks, and visibility is often excellent.
450 species of fish and 70 species of coral populate the reefs of Big Island, including almost a quarter that are native to the Hawaii archipelago. Black volcanic rocks, colonized by multi-colored coral, standing out against deep blue water – this is the typical setting you will come across when snorkeling in Hawaii.
Two Step (Honaunau Bay) and Captain Cook Monument (Kealakekua Bay) are the major snorkeling spots on the island, and are among the very best in the archipelago. Their superb coral reefs are rich in fish and open on to the ocean, and are regularly visited by spinner dolphins and Hawaiian monk seals. It is common to see green sea turtles, although they are less numerous than in Maui. If you want to live a unique experience, go to Keahole Point at nightfall. Dozens of manta rays, attracted by currents rich in plankton, come to feed there every night.
There are two main seasons in Hawaii. The summer, from May to October, is the warmest, driest and sunniest season (with an average of 80°F/26.5°C, and maximum temperatures of 85°C/29.5°C). This is the hurricane season, but they are rare in the North Pacific. In winter, from November to April, the weather is wetter and more changeable (intermittent tropical rains and sunny spells), and the air is cooler (an average of 75°F/24°C, with maximum temperatures of 78°F/25.5°C). As so often in tropical islands, the climate is different on the windward side, more humid and windy (the east), and on the leeward side, where it is dryer and more sheltered (the west).
More than 170 spots have already been published on Snorkeling Report, but there are still many spots to be added! You too can contribute to populate the map by sharing your favorite snorkeling spots around the world. The more snorkelers will contribute, the easier it will be for you, and other snorkelers, to find sites and enjoy the underwater world!
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Occasionally sighted at Two Step, rarely at Captain Cook Monument
Common all around the island; frequently observed at Two Step
Common everywhere; frequently sighted in large schools at Two Step and Captain Cook Monument
On all spots
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