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See colorful fish, sea turtles, even Manta Rays!


The Big Island of Hawaii has very few sandy beaches, which is a good thing for water clarity and visibility while snorkeling. This means that conditions here are excellent for viewing marine life, and the Kona Coast has some of the best opportunities to see the underwater world and its inhabitants. We've got relaxing sailing catamarans, fast powered catamarans, exciting zodiac ocean rafting ... look over these choices for the island's best snorkel opportunities.

Kevin at Falls

Kevin's Activity Tips:

As a resident of Maui, I always look forward to visit the Big Island and I always take my snorkel gear with me. There's a lot to see underwater here, from the many pods of dolphins to the giant manta rays that are attracted to plankton at the surface as the sun sets, the encounters with marine life that are possible here are the best in the state of Hawaii. The warm waters of the Kona Coast are home to a wide diversity of colorful tropical fish. Around the Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay in particular there are huge schools of yellow tangs. There are many vibrantly colorful parrot fish too. You will see bird wrasses, butterfly fish, and of course the famous Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the start fish of Hawaii.

Which trip to do? Well, if you love the ocean you are going to want to do TWO snorkel trips. One normal one ... during the day ... and one extraordinary one that is done after dark! That's right. The Big Island is famous for giving guests the chance to snorkel at night with the majestic and graceful giant manta rays! These animals are huge with wingspans up to 14 feet wide, but they are completely harmless. They don't have any barbs like "stingrays" and they have no teeth to bite you. They are filter feeders and they just gracefully swim about in an underwater ballet dance scooping up mouthfulls of the microscopic plankton that they call "lunch." Trust me. YOU MUST DO THE MANTA RAY NIGHT SNORKEL!

As for the "normal" daytime snorkel trips, well, the best choice for you will very depending on where you are staying and how high your level of adventure is. Guests in the Waikoloa area are best choosing either the relaxing Waikoloa Snorkel Sails that leave right from the beach there, or for more adventurous do the Dolphin Adventure and Reef Snorkel or the Captain Zodiac Rafting ... both of those tours start at the Honokohou Harbor, just south of the Kona Airport.

For those staying in the downtown Kona area, you could also do one of the highly adventurous snorkels on the smaller boats out of Honokohou Harbor ... that location really works well either for people staying in town or in the resorts further north. Most downtown guests though will likely do the larger boats that leave from the Keauhou Bay area at the southern end of Alii Drive. The Fair Wind is probably the best choice for first-time guests, and for people who have been here before and already done the Fair Wind, I'd recommend the Hula Kai. It's also run by the same company as Fair Wind, but it has an itinerary that takes is MUCH further down the coast than the Fair Wind goes.