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Located along the volcanic coast of the Big Island, the small bay of Kahalu’u is one of the closest snorkeling spots to Kailua-Kona. Sheltered by a barrier of rocks which form a small “lagoon”, Kahalu’u Bay has calm and shallow waters, ideal for setting off on the discovery of the local underwater life. A few meters of depth, you’ll swim among colorful butterflyfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish and triggerfish.

Barred filefish at Kahalu'u Bay
The barred filefish is pretty common at Kahalu’u Bay.

How to get to Kahalu’u Bay snorkeling spot?

Kahalu’u Beach Park is located south of Kailua-Kona, on the western coast of Big Island. It is located approximately 1 mile south of Magic Sands Beach Park and 1 mile north of Keauhou Bay, known for its night snorkeling with manta rays. There is parking available right next to the beach.

Kahaluu Beach Park snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Kahalu’u Bay

It is recommended to enter the water through the narrow, sandy path access from the beach area next to the picnic shelter. Or, if you don’t mind the lava rocks, climb in from a low lava rock ridge.

Kahalu’u Bay snorkeling exploration

The snorkeling area covers the centre and the south of the small Kahalu’u Bay, which is partially protected by a barrier of rocks. Avoid the north area, less protected, where waves occur.

Parrotfish at Kahalu'u Bay
Some colorful ember parrotfish can be seen in the lagoon.

South of the bay, the water is not very deep (↕1-1.5m), then it deepens as we move towards the north (↕1.5-3m). It is in these deeper areas in the center of the bay that we find the most beautiful seabeds of the spot, covered by smooth star corals (Porites lobata) and some cauliflower corals (Pocillopora meandrina). Some red pencil urchins can be seen almost everywhere in the bay, often huddled in the crevices of the reef.

Threadfin butterflyfish at Kahalu'u Bay
The threadfin butterflyfish, generally seen in pairs, is one of the most common fish snorkelers can spot at Kahalu’u Bay.

Kahalu’u Bay is very rich in fish and this is the perfect spot to snorkel surrounded by tens of colorful and inquisitive fish. Here you will easily see schools of yellow tang, groups of triggerfish (combining black triggerfish and pinktail triggerfish), many parrotfish, and several species of butterflyfish, especially ornate butterflyfish, raccoon butterflyfish and threadfin butterflyfish.

With a little luck, you might also come across a moray eel among the rocks or, in the deepest areas, a green sea turtle that came here to enjoy the calm waters of the bay.

Restaurants and accommodation near Kahalu’u

There are few eating and accommodation options in the bay, but there are several resorts between Kahalu’u and Keauhou (especially Kona Coast Resort and Kanaloa at Kona), as well as a shopping centre (Keauhou Shopping Center).


MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.