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Best Snorkeling Big Island Guide: Kona Snorkeling in Kailua Bay

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Location and Description

Downtown Kona

Kailua Bay, also known as Kamakahonu Beach or Kamakuhonu Bay, is located in downtown Kona, right off the King Kamehameha Hotel, next to the pier. Despite the need for a short walk to get there, this beach offers a secluded little cove that is often very calm, making it an ideal spot to relax and unwind. Families with young kids will find this beach especially appealing due to its excellent facilities and family-friendly atmosphere.

Kailua Bay

Kailua Bay is a hidden gem in downtown Kona. While the beach requires a short walk to reach, the effort is well worth it. This secluded cove offers calm waters and a serene atmosphere for a relaxing beach day. The bay is excellent for families, with its gentle slope and calm waters providing a safe swimming environment for children.

Secluded Cove

Kailua Bay is a secluded cove that offers a peaceful and serene setting. Due to its hidden location, it is often less crowded than other beaches, providing a more private and intimate experience. The calm waters make it an excellent spot for families and those looking for a peaceful beach day away from the crowds.

Good for Families

Kailua Bay is an excellent beach for families with young children. The calm and shallow waters make it safe for kids to swim and play. The soft sand and gentle slope of the beach create a perfect environment for building sand castles and enjoying family-friendly activities. Families can also take advantage of the nearby park with picnic tables, making it a great spot for a beachside lunch.

Swim Lane and Bottom Slope

For those looking to explore the underwater world, Kailua Bay offers a swim lane that extends about 1.2 miles out. Following the swim lane will lead you to a gently sloping bottom that reaches a depth of about 40 feet. This allows snorkelers to gradually explore deeper waters while still having a clear path to follow.

Sand Patches and Reef

Adjacent to the pier, Kailua Bay features generous sand patches scattered amongst patches of reef. This provides a diverse and vibrant underwater ecosystem for snorkelers to discover. The sand patches are home to schools of fish, offering a great opportunity for underwater exploration and observing marine life.

Encounter with Akule

Lucky snorkelers may have the chance to encounter a school of akule, which form massive tight bait balls. Swimming through these bait balls can be a thrilling and unique experience, allowing snorkelers to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures.

Snorkeling Rating

The snorkeling at Kailua Bay is rated about 7 out of 10. While it may not be the absolute best snorkeling spot on the Big Island, it still offers an enjoyable and rewarding snorkeling experience. The visibility improves as you swim further out, and the diverse marine life and underwater landscape make it a memorable snorkeling destination.

Best Snorkeling Big Island Guide

Not the Absolute Best

While Kailua Bay may not be considered the absolute best snorkeling spot on the Big Island, it still offers a worthwhile experience for visitors. Its unique features, such as the secluded cove and diverse marine life, make it a destination worth exploring.

Worth a Visit

Despite not being the top-rated snorkeling spot, Kailua Bay is still worth a visit for snorkelers of all levels. Its convenient location, family-friendly atmosphere, and the opportunity to explore a diverse underwater ecosystem make it an enjoyable and rewarding snorkeling experience.

Kona Snorkeling Guide

Top 15 Places to Snorkel on Big Island

For those looking to explore more snorkeling spots on the Big Island, our comprehensive Kona Snorkeling Guide offers a list of the top 15 places to snorkel. From hidden coves to vibrant reefs, there are plenty of options to suit every snorkeler’s preferences.

Essential Snorkeling Gear Guide

Before embarking on any snorkeling adventure, it’s essential to have the right gear. Our Essential Snorkeling Gear Guide provides a detailed list of the must-have items for a successful and enjoyable snorkeling experience. From masks and snorkels to fins and rash guards, we cover everything you need to make the most of your snorkeling trip.

Where to Snorkel Big Island Guide Map

To make planning your snorkeling adventures easier, our Where to Snorkel Big Island Guide Map provides an interactive map with the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island. Easily navigate the island and discover new snorkeling locations with the help of our detailed map.

Kona Snorkel Trips

Hawaii’s Top Rated Snorkel Company

Kona Snorkel Trips is Hawaii’s top-rated and most reviewed snorkel company. With a passion for ocean exploration and a commitment to providing exceptional customer service, we strive to offer the best snorkeling experiences on the Big Island.

Daily Kona Snorkel Tours

We run daily Kona Snorkel tours, offering morning, afternoon, and night trips to cater to every snorkeler’s schedule. Join us for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure and discover the beauty of the underwater world on the Big Island.

Introduction to Kamakahonu Bay

Meaning of Kamakahonu

Kamakahonu Bay, also known as Kailua Bay, gets its name from its historical significance. “Kamakahonu” translates to “the eye of the Turtle” in Hawaiian, symbolizing the spiritual and cultural importance of this bay.

Historical Significance

Kamakahonu Bay holds great historical significance as the place where King Kamehameha himself lived and eventually passed away. The bay is home to the Hayao, a heiau (Hawaiian temple) where King Kamehameha spent his final days. This historical connection makes Kamakahonu Bay a site of deep cultural importance.

Activities and Attractions

In addition to its historical significance, Kamakahonu Bay offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors. From swimming and snorkeling to paddleboarding and kayaking, there are plenty of water-based adventures to enjoy. The picturesque beach and scenic surroundings also make it a great spot for relaxing and soaking up the beauty of nature.

Good Beach for Kids

Kamakahonu Bay is a family-friendly beach, offering calm and shallow waters that are safe for children to swim and play in. The soft sand and gentle slope of the beach make it ideal for building sand castles and enjoying beachside activities. Families can spend a day enjoying the sun, sand, and sea in this idyllic beach setting.

Snorkeling at Kamakahonu Bay

Kamakahonu Bay is not only historically significant but also a fantastic snorkeling spot. The calm and clear waters provide excellent visibility for snorkelers to explore the underwater world. Snorkelers can discover the vibrant reef and diverse marine life that call this bay home. With its rich history and incredible snorkeling opportunities, Kamakahonu Bay offers a truly unique and memorable experience.

Video By Kona Snorkel Trips

To get a glimpse of the beauty and adventure that awaits at Kamakahonu Bay, check out our video produced by Kona Snorkel Trips. Join us as we dive into the crystal-clear waters and explore the colorful reef and fascinating marine life that inhabit this stunning bay.


Kailua Bay, also known as Kamakahonu Bay, is a hidden gem in downtown Kona, offering a secluded cove and excellent snorkeling opportunities. While it may not be the absolute best snorkeling spot on the Big Island, its unique features, including the swim lane, sand patches, and chance encounters with akule, make it a worthwhile visit. Families will find this beach particularly appealing due to its family-friendly amenities and calm waters. For a comprehensive guide to snorkeling on the Big Island, including the top 15 snorkeling spots, essential gear recommendations, and a helpful interactive map, turn to Kona Snorkel Trips. We are dedicated to providing the best snorkeling experiences on the Big Island, offering daily tours for snorkelers of all levels. Discover the beauty of Kamakahonu Bay and the wonders of the underwater world on your next visit to the Big Island.