Hey there! Are you planning a snorkeling adventure at 2 Step Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about snorkeling at this amazing spot. From tips to what to expect underwater, we’ve got you covered. Trust us, 2 Step Beach is like an underwater forest, teeming with vibrant coral and a variety of fish species. It’s definitely one of the best places to snorkel on the island! So grab your gear, because we’re about to embark on an unforgettable underwater journey.

Now, before we dive in (pun intended), let’s talk a bit about the logistics. 2 Step Beach, also known as Hanaunau Beach, is located about 40 minutes to an hour away from Kona. It’s easily accessible and offers great snorkeling opportunities for intermediate snorkelers. Just make sure to time your entry based on the tidal changes, as it’s easier to get in when the tide is a bit lower. Oh, and one more thing – this beach is not recommended for beginners, as there are sea urchins lurking between the steps. So be careful where you put your hands and feet! With that said, get ready to explore the wonders of 2 Step Beach and have an incredible snorkeling experience.

Guide To Snorkeling at 2 Step Beach - Big Island Hawaii Guides

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Guide To Snorkeling at 2 Step Beach – Big Island Hawaii Guides

Snorkeling at 2 Step Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii is an incredible experience that allows you to explore the vibrant underwater world teeming with marine life. Located about 40 minutes to an hour from Kona, this beach is known for its crystal-clear waters, beautiful coral formations, and diverse marine ecosystem. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced snorkeler, 2 Step Beach offers something for everyone. In this guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your snorkeling adventure at 2 Step Beach.

Location and Access

Overview of 2 Step Beach

Situated at Honaunau Bay, 2 Step Beach is also known as Hanaunau Beach. It is a popular snorkeling spot on the Big Island of Hawaii due to its rich marine biodiversity and accessibility. The beach gets its name from the two flat lava rocks that form natural steps leading into the water, making it easier for snorkelers to enter and exit the ocean.

Directions to 2 Step Beach

To get to 2 Step Beach, start from Kona and head south on Highway 11. After approximately 17 miles, turn left onto Napoopoo Road. Continue on Napoopoo Road until you reach the parking area near the beach. From there, you can follow the path that leads to the two-step entry point.

Parking Facilities

2 Step Beach has a designated parking area close to the beach, but it can fill up quickly, especially during peak hours. If the parking lot is full, you can try parking on the side of the road, ensuring that you are not obstructing any driveways or roads. Remember to follow all parking regulations and respect the local community.

Best Time to Visit

Weather Conditions

The weather on the Big Island of Hawaii can vary throughout the year, so it’s important to consider the conditions before planning your snorkeling trip to 2 Step Beach. Generally, the island experiences a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. It is advisable to check the weather forecast before your visit to ensure stable and favorable conditions for snorkeling.

Water Visibility

One of the highlights of snorkeling at 2 Step Beach is the impressive water visibility. On clear days, you can see up to 100 feet underwater, providing an unobstructed view of the marine life and coral formations. However, water visibility can vary depending on weather conditions, currents, and other factors. To maximize your snorkeling experience, aim for days with calm waters and good visibility.

Tide Patterns

Understanding tide patterns is essential for a safe and enjoyable snorkeling experience at 2 Step Beach. It is recommended to snorkel during low tide or slack tide when the water is calmer and there is less likelihood of strong currents. High tide can create more challenging conditions, especially for inexperienced snorkelers. Check tide charts or consult with a local guide to determine the ideal time to visit based on the tide patterns.

Snorkeling Gear

To make the most of your snorkeling adventure at 2 Step Beach, it’s important to have the right gear. Here are the essential items you will need:

Mask and Snorkel

A well-fitting mask and snorkel are essential for clear vision and comfortable breathing underwater. Choose a mask that fits snugly on your face without any gaps, and opt for a snorkel with a comfortable mouthpiece and a purge valve for easy clearing.


Fins help you navigate through the water with ease and provide propulsion. Look for snorkeling fins that fit securely on your feet and offer sufficient flexibility and propulsion power.

Wetsuit/Rash Guard

While the water at 2 Step Beach is generally warm year-round, wearing a wetsuit or a rash guard can provide protection against sunburn and enhance your comfort in the water. Choose a wetsuit or rash guard that fits well and provides sufficient coverage without restricting your movement.

Floatation Devices

If you are not a confident swimmer or prefer extra buoyancy in the water, consider using floatation devices such as a snorkel vest or a buoyancy belt. These can provide added safety and peace of mind during your snorkeling adventure.

Safety Tips

Snorkeling can be a fun and exhilarating activity, but it’s important to prioritize safety at all times. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when snorkeling at 2 Step Beach:

Check Weather and Ocean Conditions

Before heading out, check the weather forecast and ocean conditions. Avoid snorkeling if there are high winds, rough seas, or dangerous currents. It’s better to reschedule your snorkeling adventure for a safer day.

Swim with a Buddy

Snorkeling with a buddy is not only more enjoyable but also adds an extra layer of safety. Stay within sight of your buddy at all times and keep an eye on each other while exploring the underwater wonders of 2 Step Beach.

Know Your Limits

Snorkeling is a physically demanding activity, so it’s important to know your limits and swim within your comfort zone. If you feel tired or fatigued, take a break, rest, and hydrate before returning to the water.

Stay Hydrated

Snorkeling can be dehydrating, especially under the sun. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your snorkeling session to stay hydrated and avoid heat-related illnesses.

Watch Out for Marine Life

While snorkeling, keep a respectful distance from marine life and avoid touching or harassing them. Admire the beauty of the underwater world from a distance and remember that you are a visitor in their habitat.

Avoid Stepping on Coral

Coral is a delicate living organism, and stepping or standing on it can cause irreparable damage. Be mindful of your surroundings and ensure that you do not make contact with the coral formations while snorkeling.

Beware of Sea Urchins

Sea urchins can be found in the crevices and rocky areas of 2 Step Beach. To avoid getting stung, exercise caution when moving around, and be aware of where you place your hands and feet. Wearing reef shoes or water shoes can provide additional protection.

Marine Life at 2 Step Beach

The marine life at 2 Step Beach is diverse and abundant, offering snorkelers the opportunity to encounter a wide range of species. Here are some of the marine creatures you may encounter during your snorkeling adventure:

Fish Species

At 2 Step Beach, you can encounter a variety of fish species, including colorful reef fish like parrotfish, butterflyfish, tangs, and wrasses. Keep an eye out for larger species like the resident honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtle, which is often spotted near the rocky areas.

Coral Species

The coral formations at 2 Step Beach are truly remarkable. You can find vibrant hard corals such as brain corals, mushroom corals, and staghorn corals, as well as soft corals like sea fans and sea whips. Take your time to observe the intricate structures and diverse colors of the coral gardens.

Other Marine Creatures

In addition to fish and coral, 2 Step Beach is home to a variety of other marine creatures. Keep an eye out for octopuses, eels, sea cucumbers, and nudibranchs. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a reef shark or a pod of dolphins passing through.

Underwater Features

The underwater landscape at 2 Step Beach is mesmerizing, with various features that make snorkeling here a unique experience. Here are some of the underwater features you can explore:

Coral Gardens

The coral gardens at 2 Step Beach are enchanting, with intricate formations and a myriad of colors. Swim through the gardens and observe the different shapes and sizes of the corals, as well as the fascinating marine life that calls them home.

Rock Formations

Along the shoreline, you’ll find fascinating rock formations that create nooks and crannies for marine life to hide and seek shelter. These formations provide opportunities to explore and discover hidden gems beneath the water’s surface.

Caves and Crevices

Venture deeper into the water, and you may come across caves and crevices that house a whole different world. These underwater caves offer a glimpse into the mysterious and captivating realm of the marine ecosystem.

Reef Structures

The reef structures at 2 Step Beach are diverse, ranging from shallow reefs near the shoreline to deeper reefs further offshore. Explore these structures and observe the changes in marine life as you move through different depths.

Beginner-Friendly Snorkeling Areas

If you are new to snorkeling or prefer calmer waters, there are beginner-friendly snorkeling areas at 2 Step Beach that provide a gentle introduction to the underwater world. Here are some of the best spots for beginners:

Shallow Sandy Areas

The shallow sandy areas near the shoreline are perfect for beginners to practice their snorkeling skills. These areas offer clear visibility and a calm, sandy bottom, making it easier to adjust to snorkeling equipment and get comfortable in the water.

Protected Bays

2 Step Beach features several protected bays with calm waters, ideal for novice snorkelers. These bays provide a sheltered environment with minimal currents, allowing beginners to explore without worrying about challenging conditions.

Calm Waters

Choose days with calm waters to enhance your snorkeling experience as a beginner. Snorkeling in calm conditions provides a sense of tranquility and enables you to focus on your surroundings without having to contend with stronger currents or waves.

Intermediate Snorkeling Areas

If you have some snorkeling experience and are looking for a slightly more challenging adventure, there are intermediate snorkeling areas at 2 Step Beach that offer greater depth and marine diversity. Here are some of the best spots for intermediate snorkelers:

Deeper Reefs

Venture further from the shoreline to explore the deeper reefs at 2 Step Beach. These reefs offer a more immersive snorkeling experience, allowing you to encounter a wider range of fish species and observe the intricate details of the coral formations.

Stronger Currents

Intermediate snorkelers can try snorkeling in areas with slightly stronger currents. These currents can provide a thrilling and dynamic snorkeling experience, but it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

More Marine Life

As you explore the intermediate snorkeling areas, you may come across a higher concentration of marine life. Keep an eye out for schools of fish, larger species like turtles and rays, and other fascinating creatures that inhabit these areas.

Advanced Snorkeling Areas

For experienced snorkelers seeking a more challenging and rewarding adventure, there are advanced snorkeling areas at 2 Step Beach that require strong swimming skills and a good understanding of the ocean conditions. Here are some of the best spots for advanced snorkelers:

Offshore Reefs

The offshore reefs at 2 Step Beach offer a wealth of opportunities for advanced snorkelers. These reefs are located further from the shoreline and require longer swims, but the rewards are well worth it. Explore the depths and encounter a greater variety of marine life and coral formations.

Strong Current Zones

Advanced snorkelers can challenge themselves by exploring areas with stronger currents. These zones can be exhilarating but require caution and the ability to navigate in changing conditions. Be prepared for a more dynamic and unpredictable snorkeling experience.

Underwater Cliffs

Some areas at 2 Step Beach feature underwater cliffs that descend into the depths. Snorkeling along these cliffs can provide a unique perspective and opportunities to observe marine life that prefers deeper waters. However, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid swimming too close to the cliffs.

Other Activities at 2 Step Beach

In addition to snorkeling, 2 Step Beach offers several other activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some options to consider during your visit:

  • Picnicking: Pack a delicious lunch and enjoy a picnic on the sandy shores of 2 Step Beach. Take in the beautiful surroundings and relax while soaking up the Hawaiian sun.

  • Wildlife Watching: When you’re not snorkeling, keep an eye out for wildlife such as dolphins, sea turtles, and various bird species. Binoculars can be handy for spotting these creatures from the beach.

  • Exploring Tide Pools: During low tide, explore the fascinating tide pools along the shoreline. These pools provide a glimpse into the intertidal zone and offer opportunities to observe small marine organisms up close.

  • Sunbathing and Relaxing: If you simply want to unwind and soak in the beauty of 2 Step Beach, find a comfortable spot on the beach, set up your beach chair or towel, and enjoy some relaxation under the sun.

  • Beachcombing: Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline and see what treasures the ocean has washed up on the beach. You may find seashells, colorful pebbles, or unique pieces of coral to take home as souvenirs.

Remember to respect the natural environment and follow any posted guidelines or regulations to ensure the preservation of 2 Step Beach for future generations to enjoy.


Snorkeling at 2 Step Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii offers a memorable and enchanting experience. From the abundance of marine life and colorful coral formations to the varied snorkeling areas catering to all skill levels, this beach has something for everyone. By following safety guidelines, equipping yourself with the necessary gear, and respecting the marine ecosystem, you can embark on a snorkeling adventure that will leave you with lifelong memories. So grab your snorkel gear, head to 2 Step Beach, and immerse yourself in the underwater beauty of Hawaii’s Big Island.