Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Last updated on April 8, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Night snorkeling with manta rays
Fringing coral reef with a great variety of fish
Free shore access
Vibrant fringing reef with sea turtles and spinner dolphins
Rocks and coral areas with turtles and tropical fish
Rock-protected area with reef fish and turtles
Marine reserve with a fringing reef and many fish