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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 and experienced snorkelers.

Two Step, Hawaii
Two Step, Hawaii.

How to go snorkeling in Two Step

Two Step is located in Honaunau Bay, on the west coast of the Big Island, some 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona. From this town or from Captain Cook, take route 11 south (Volcano), then head for 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 ($20 per vehicle, including the entrance fee) or 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.

Two Step - Hanauma Bay snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Two Step

Enter the water from the barrier of black volcanic rock running parallel to 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. 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 get out of the water, while keeping an eye out for the sea urchins that sometimes take up their abode on the rock face.

Green sea turtle in Two Step
Hawaiian green sea turtles are easy to spot in Two Step.

Two Step snorkeling tips and recommendations

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).

In this area, you will also come across green sea 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.

Snorkeling with Hawaiian spinner dolphins at Two Step
Pods of spinner dolphins frequently visit the bay.

The central part of the bay is the deepest (↕14-20ft/4-6m). The sea life is also more plentiful there, but the depth does not make photography easy. On the other hand, this is the area where small groups of spinner dolphins and a few Hawaiian monk seals regularly visit.

Since 2021, State regulations prohibit swimming with, approaching, or remaining within 50 yards of spinner dolphins. If dolphins approach you, you must make no effort to engage them and move away.

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 don’t forget protect yourself from the sun with reef-safe sunscreen.

Shoal of yellow tang at Two Step
Huge shoals of yellow tang live in Two Step, feeding on the rocks covered with tiny algae.

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

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

There are no restaurants nearby. At the Park entrance, you can buy bottles of water at reasonable prices. Some house rentals are available near the beach.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaPu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
  • Maximum depth20ft/6m
  • Water entranceA bit tricky, from lava rocks
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

Sea turtle watching in Hawaii


Sea turtles are a very familiar sight on many snorkeling spots in Hawaii, including Two Step. In order to be a responsible snorkeler, be sure to respect the following rules when observing them:

  1. Do not attempt to touch or ride sea turtles
  2. Stay at a distance (6 to 10ft) from sea turtles
  3. Do not chase a turtle that is swimming away
  4. Avoid sudden movement and allow sea turtles plenty of space when they come up to the surface to breathe

If you love snorkeling with sea turtles, Captain Cook Monument is also a good snorkeling spot to encounter them on the Big Island.

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

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.