It will come as no surprise that the big island of Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to go snorkeling. Every year, locals and visitors alike enjoy many prime snorkeling locations around the big island, which provide beautiful views, unique wildlife, and of course, an excellent time. Visitors who are enjoying the big island will definitely want to check out these fantastic snorkeling locations.  Let’s take a look at the top three snorkeling locations on the big island of Hawaii.

Honaunau, Place of Refuge

Location: About 20 miles south of Kailua Kona

Honanau is located within the Place of Refuge, which is one of the more beautiful parks and beaches on the big island. What is particularly unique about Honanau is its entry: this dive entry is done from a lava-ledge!  Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of fish and, best of all, a possible sea turtle or moray eel.  (Local note: Never stick your fingers into the holes on the lava ledge, as there tend to be sea urchins inside!) The water around Honanau can be a bit rough during certain times of the year, but the beautiful blue water, lava ledge entry and astounding wildlife are well worth the effort!

Captain Cook Monument Cove

Location: north of Hale Ho’ola

Captain Cook Monument Cove is a snorkeling site located north of Hale Ho’ola and across from Kealakekua that is both beautiful and popular among those staying in Hawaii.  Captain Cook Monument Cove is well-known for its crystal clear water and colorful, vibrant reef which extends out to water almost 80 feet in depth! The water in the cove is notoriously calm and provides not only clear views but the opportunity to see abundant wildlife. Animals commonly seen here include tropical fish, various reef-life, sea turtles and on uncommon occasions, even dolphins!  Entry can be done right off the dock in Kealakekua, but locals suggest that you rent a kayak and paddle across the way to the Captain Cook Monument Cove.

Spencer Beach Park

Location: North of Kailua-Kona, just up the hill from Kawaihae Harbor

Spencer Beach Park is a well-loved and family friendly beach which is perfect for family groups and snorkelers, especially those who are looking for calm waters, a protected beach and a safe atmosphere. Spencer Beach is a reef protected beach, which provides easy entry for snorkelers who simply have to walk right in the water from the beautiful white sand beach. An abundance of fish can be seen year around, but the main attraction for many snorkelers are the high amount of sea turtles often found in the area! If you’ve ever wanted to swim with sea turtles during your stay, you can do no better than Spencer Beach Park.

During your stay at our condo, feel free to utilize the snorkeling gear we have available for your use.

The best way to experience sea life up close in Hawaii is to book an ocean excursion with Dolphin Journeys.  During the months of January thru mid April, this is the best way to experience hump back whales and dolphins along the Kona Coast.   The whales are snowbirds of the ocean, spending their winters in Hawaii mating, giving birth, and enjoying the calm warm water.   This is an “on” the boat watching trip from 1:30-4:30 pm daily.   You’ll enjoy learning more about these magnificent gentle giants of the sea. Snacks and refreshments included. Available Jan. – mid April, or when the whales head north to Alaska. The Dolphin TLC takes just 6 guests, so this is a very intimate excursion.   Private Charter/Parties welcome.

Baleen whales – mysticetes, include whales such as the humpback, gray and blue whales. Their primary distinguishing characteristic is the fact that all adults lack teeth, which have been replaced by a series of baleen plates on either side of their jaw. Baleen, also known as “whalebone” is not really bone, but is made of keratin, the same protein substance as our own hair and nails, and the horns of cattle. Some species have over 400 baleen plates; each less than 1/5 of an inch thick. The plates are fringed with hairs along their inner edges and descend like curtains in two rows from the upper jaw. It may help to remember the two different types of whales by knowing that the scientific name for baleen whales, mysticetes, comes from the Greek word “mystax,” which means moustache! The humpback whales migrate home to Hawaii each December and are here for the winter. They will head back north the end of March/April.

Porpoises belong to the family Phocoenidae. They are generally smaller and a more robust species. The primary physical difference between a dolphin and a porpoise is the shape of the teeth. Porpoise have a spade flat tooth like humans. (dolphins teeth are a round point tooth). Most Porpoise are about 5-7 feet in length. Porpoises have less of a distinct beak, or rostrum. Their foreheads slope almost uniformly to the tip of their snout, and their teeth are spade-like in shape. The family Phocoenidae is rather small, and consists of only six members. There are no porpoises found in Hawaiian waters.

Dolphin Journeys focuses on the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, Pacific Spotted Dolphins and in the winter season, Humpback Whales.
Most cetaceans are gregarious and love to share their joy.  They have been interacting with humans around the Big Island for about 20 years.  The Island of Hawaii (Big Island) has a perfect oceanographic floor for the dolphins.  They like shallow, sandy bottom bays to play, teach their young and sleep in by day.  The Kona Coast with the very narrow continental shelf provides the unique co-habitation of human coastal life and marine mammals living and working in the same environment. The water along Kona is clean as an ocean can be and provides a beautiful home for the dolphins.  Humans have had a small impact on the water of West Hawaii.  The primary industry is fishing and that has been the only threat to the dolphins.

Dolphin Journeys is the Original Company to take people to meet and encounter the dolphins as their primary activity. Started in 1996, Capt. Nancy & her crew have been leading people to the joy and amazing experiences of open water encounters with dolphins, manta rays and whale watching. We strive to offer the most safe, educational and deeply rich experience. We understand your precious vacation dollars deserve to be spent for the very best.

Here are some of the things we provide that are not usually found with other operators:

Safety Swimmer in the water for every 6 people.

If you are feeling uneasy, new to snorkeling or unsure about the ocean, our ‘Pod leader’ is in the water with you to help you. We will assist your child, assure them, and help them to see the dolphins. Our swim support are certified CPR, First Aid and part of Coast Guard Drug Testing program.

Neoprene vests to keep sun off your back, keep your body warm and offer a bit of floatation.

Wet Suites for the kids to keep them warm and comfortable.

High quality masks & fins in variety of styles to fit each person’s unique face and foot shape.

Educational component on our trips is rich in information. Dolphin Journeys is a Specialty Company with 20 years with the Hawaiian Dolphins. Our Staff are College Graduates and have been educated in Marine Mammal & Manta Ray data and the personal connection between our marine species & humans. Our staff are all enrolled in the Coast Guard Drug Program and are skilled in water safety, CPR & First Aid.

Specialty items on board for your comfort;

Our boat, the Dolphin TLC, is a 26’ SkipJack Cabin Cruiser. It has shade on back deck. A cabin to keep items safe and dry, and a Head with sink. She rides easily through the water with 6000 lbs in her keel for stabilization. Swim step on back deck – no transom to crawl over. Heavy duty ladder with 4 steps below the surface of the water for ease to get on the boat from the water.

Hot fresh water shower on the deck to rinse off the salt – “It Feels Oh So Good”! Shampoo & Cream Rinse available to get the tangles out of your hair at the end of the day.

Drinking water is served in special blue bottles, so the PVC from the plastic does not melt into your water from sitting in the sun.

Full lunch is served:

  • includes fresh fruit – 99% time Pineapple
  • Special chips with no artificial anything, no sugar. They are taro or sweet potatoes that are locally grown and manufactured. The have 3 ingredients, taro/sweet potato + Coconut oil + salt.
  • You can choose from a sandwich, wrap or salad.
  • Gluten free, sugar free and vegan diets are easily accommodated
  • Selection of Hawaiian juices, sodas, green tea (with & without sugar) and plenty of water.

Comfort items for sea sickness:

  • Ginger chews capsules
  • Sea Bands
  • Homeopathic relief essential oil

Extra towels & sun screen: When the day is done and you have had your last swim, we have a dry plush towel to offer you if your towel is damp. If you forget your sunscreen – no worries we have premium sun screen to help keep you safe from the warm Hawaiian sunshine.

We Offer Special Trips to guests who may want an unusual trip…. Let us know your heart’s desire and we will do our best to make it happen. These are Private Charter trips.

Afternoon Reef & Manta Ray swim is an equally fabulous trip – with all the amenities except for lunch. We serve snacks and drinks on that trip.

Evening Manta Ray Snorkels have the same quality of care. We do not serve dinner, but will have snacks, cold and warm drinks on board.

Information for this post taken from Dolphin Journeys website at www.dolphinjourneys.com.  To book a tour, call 808-329-3030 or book online at their website.

The Kohala coast seems to stretch almost endlessly on the Big Island of Hawaii. And nothing might be more memorable than seaside dining at sunset. The restaurants along this coast have maximized their seating and arrangements for the best viewing. While almost all feature local seafood, you will be surprised at the variety of options, which give you a memorable meal with an even more interesting view and setting.

Ulu

Ulu at the Four Seasons Hualalai sits directly adjacent to the gentle surf beach with no table being a bad table. Combine breakfast, lunch or dinner with the crashing waves and with their stellar menu. Working with a bevy of local farmers and fisherman, you will get an upscale Hawaiian meal. Make it fish with Charred Hawaiian Hapu’upu’u – lemongrass creamed Hilo corn, romesco, and yuzu beurre blanc. Add mushroom fried rice, and you can bet on the aaahhhh factor.

Rays on the Bay

If you want to see the ocean and marine activity, head to the south side of Kona to Rays on the Bay at the Sheraton. Not only do you get to see the sunset, the manta rays come out for feeding under the lights. With music, a spacious lounge/bar area and the local wildlife, that would be enough. But wait, start with an Orchid Breeze with Domaine Chandon Brut, Distillery No. 209 Gin, and guava liqueur. The most unique entrée is Hilo Wild Boar with slowly braised ragout, hand-cut pappardelle pasta, grand padano cheese and rosemary.

Hau Tree

Where the coast takes a northwestern turn to Kawaihae, the Hau Tree at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort gives you toes-in-the-sand dining for lunch or dinner. A little more casual, and you can just come in from snorkeling or swimming for lunch, while every Saturday is the legendary Clam Bake (Yes, Elvis is reported to have made an appearance). Lunchtime favorites are the tater-tot nachos and just about any burger.

Mi’s Waterfront Bistro

When you have a yen for pasta, get to Mi’s Waterfront Bistro for innovative Italian with an ocean view. And, they make all their pastas and sauces. You get classically prepared dishes with a Kona twist such as Crab Manicotti combining three kinds of cheese, green beans, tomato and green chilies baked in marinara with Italian bread crumbs. Another perennial favorite as you watch the waves is the Herb & Cheese Ravioli with broccoli florets, toasted pine nuts, and a blue cheese cream sauce. Deserts get the same creative touch with their Tiramisu, an award winner from the Kona Coffee Festival.

Huggo’s

Huggo’s is one of the original restaurants in Kona, and sunsets are unique because the restaurant deck is essentially its own pier. The iconic view draws you in, but the food and drink make it the complete experience. While there is plenty of fish on the menu, the real stopper is the Signature Teriyaki grilled flank steak with local Asian greens and bamboo rice. And, in the morning, a Hawaiian breakfast calls with seaside omelets.

Coast Grille

The Hapuna Prince is a classic Hawaiian hotel, so expect the Coast Grille to have some classics with an exceptional sunset view. 40% of the menu includes locally sourced ingredients. For example, many of the vegetables and herbs used in the Poke Nachos coming from the Hapuna garden. Here the menu is less fixed and more about what is available and fresh at the time with a classic sunset view. They offer the Big Island’s only oyster bar combined with a design-your-own-Poke menu. The Coast Grille hosts a regular wine and other spirits dinner, one of the few restaurants on the island to give the traveler this option.

Lava Lava Beach Club

The Lava Lava Beach Club sits right on the edge of Anaehoomalu Bay. A cozy combination of beach, sand and open air dining. Nightly entertainment of guitar and hula compliments the spectacular sunsets. The menu does rotate a bit, so start with the edame appetizer or the standing Ahi nachos. While everything tends to taste wonderful as the waves roll, the Hook, Line & Sinker is the chef’s inspired fish creation of the day and never fails.

Kamuela Provision Company

Whale watching season is always a little more exciting at the Kamuela Provision Company because you can easily see them breach the water on their migration. This might be the best spot on the Big Island for a romantic dinner, as they have just upped their cocktail offerings to include jet-fuel potent signature martinis in the adjacent Blue Lounge. The Hudson Farm Kumato Tomato Salad takes that little starter to new heights with the shaved Kula onions and blue cheese. The Ginger Infused Steamed Monchong (a local fish) gets a treatment of cilantro, carrot, green onion, kabayaki treatment, sizzling peanut oil, and sushi rice cake.

Fishhopper

If you want a large variety of local catches, the Fishhopper in downtown Kona gives you a great bay and people watching combined with innovative seafood. They have the Big Island’s longest happy hour, starting at 2 p.m. with both food and drink specials. Consistently voted the best Mai Tai on the island, so you can’t go wrong with that libation. The best fish combo is Local Monchong with creamy risotto, which takes the broiled Monchong, and then adds creamy risotto mixed with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and spinach. Top the whole creation with Beurre Blanc sauce. This is one of the few places where you can get fresh fish and chips made with local Kona beer!

Information for this blog taken from A Luxury Travel Blog written by Neil Wolkodoff