Snorkeling Review – Ho’okena Beach, Hawaii (Big Island) is a video review by Adventures in Aviators that explores the beauty and attractions of Ho’okena Beach, known as one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island. The review evaluates various aspects such as location, water access, wildlife, water traffic, and facilities. It emphasizes the importance of following local laws, particularly new laws prohibiting the approach to dolphins. The video also includes hiking guides for other adventure activities on the Big Island, as well as additional snorkeling reviews for other popular spots.

The review begins by highlighting Ho’okena’s unique features and its comparison to other popular snorkel locations. It provides valuable information on the location, water access, wildlife, water traffic, and facilities at Ho’okena. The video advises viewers to familiarize themselves with local laws and emphasizes the need for responsible snorkeling. The host gives a positive review of Ho’okena, complimenting its natural shade, tourist appeal, unique views, and safe environment. The review also offers additional resources for hiking and snorkeling at various other locations on the Big Island.


Ho’okena Beach is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, a fair distance south of Kona town. It takes about 25 minutes to drive from the southern parts of Kona, but it can take around 40-45 minutes from Kona town and even longer from the resorts further north. The beach is easily accessible from highway 11, with a dedicated turnout marked by a sign. As you descend the hill, you’ll find a small one-lane road leading to a parking lot right next to the beach. However, if you arrive later in the day, the parking lot may be full, and you would need to park uphill and walk a block or so to reach the beach.

Water Access

Ho’okena Beach offers relatively easy access to the water, which is a significant advantage compared to other snorkel spots along the west side of Hawaii. While the beach itself is quite long, the access points to the water are limited to the south side, where there are rocks and other obstructions. It is essential to exercise caution and avoid getting hurt. Once you’re waist-deep into the water, there may be a few boulders, but after that, the waves shouldn’t pose a problem. However, during periods of high swell, there will be plenty of people boogie boarding, so it’s best to wait for a set of waves to pass before entering the water. Considering the relatively easy water access by Kona standards, Ho’okena Beach receives a rating of four out of five manta rays in this category.


Ho’okena Beach offers fantastic opportunities to encounter various marine wildlife. One of the main attractions is the chance to see dolphins. While it’s not guaranteed, pods of dolphins frequently visit the area, especially in the mornings, where they sleep and cruise along the bay. It’s important to observe the dolphins from a distance and avoid disturbing them since they are often just resting. Along with the dolphins, there are opportunities to spot rays, turtles, and even whales from the shore during the winter months. If you’re interested in seeing coral, pretty fish, and rocky contours, head to the north side of the beach. With an excellent chance to see a wide range of marine wildlife, Ho’okena Beach earns a perfect score of five out of five manta rays in this category.

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Water Traffic

A notable advantage of Ho’okena Beach is the minimal water traffic. Unlike other snorkel spots, there are no boat tours or traffic in the bay. Boats tend to stay in the northern parts of the area, making it much safer and quieter for snorkelers. While there may be some other snorkelers in the area, particularly during mid-morning hours, it’s generally not overcrowded. However, it’s important to keep an eye out for boogie boarders, especially during busy periods or later in the day. Overall, the water traffic at Ho’okena Beach is relatively limited, earning it a rating of four out of five manta rays in this category.


Ho’okena Beach offers excellent facilities for visitors. There are showers available, both near the beach and close to the restrooms. The restrooms are conveniently located near the water, making it easy for beachgoers. The parking lot is situated right next to the beach, offering convenience for those arriving early. Additionally, the beach provides ample natural shade from trees, making it a comfortable spot to relax. With its well-maintained facilities, Ho’okena Beach excels in this category and receives a top rating of five out of five manta rays.

Comparison with Other Snorkel Locations

Ho’okena Beach stands out among other snorkel spots on the Big Island of Hawaii for several reasons. Firstly, its location sets it apart, being a bit more secluded and hidden compared to the more popular spots. This provides a quieter and more peaceful experience for visitors. The easy water access is another advantage, as many snorkel spots along the west side of Hawaii lack convenient entry points to the water. The abundance of wildlife, particularly the chance to see dolphins, makes Ho’okena Beach a highly attractive option. The minimal water traffic and excellent facilities further contribute to its appeal. Overall, Ho’okena Beach offers a unique and enjoyable snorkeling experience, setting it apart from other popular locations.

New Laws Prohibiting Approach to Dolphins

Visitors to Ho’okena Beach need to be aware of new laws that prohibit approaching dolphins. It’s crucial to familiarize oneself with these laws and ensure they are followed while in the water. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources has implemented these regulations to protect the well-being of the dolphins and preserve their natural behavior. Observing dolphins from a distance and refraining from diving or swimming toward them is essential. By respecting these laws, visitors can help preserve the unique wildlife experiences at Ho’okena Beach.

Local Laws and Snorkeling Etiquette

In addition to the new laws regarding dolphins, it’s essential to familiarize oneself with local laws and snorkeling etiquette in general. Snorkelers should be aware of any specific regulations that apply to the area they are visiting. Respecting marine life and their habitats is crucial, as is avoiding any contact or damage to the fragile coral reefs. Snorkelers should also be mindful of their own safety by assessing water conditions, currents, and wave activity before entering the water. By following local laws and practicing responsible snorkeling etiquette, visitors can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while protecting the marine environment.

Adventure Activities on the Big Island of Hawaii

Beyond snorkeling, the Big Island of Hawaii offers various adventure activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking is a popular option, and there are several notable trails to explore. Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a is one such hiking destination, known for its scenic beauty and unique volcanic features. Pololu Valley provides breathtaking views and the opportunity to hike down to a black sand beach. Green Sand Beach is another must-visit spot, offering the chance to see the rare and vibrant green sand formed from olivine crystals. Makalawena Beach is a hidden gem with stunning turquoise water and pristine white sand. These hiking destinations showcase the diverse natural beauty of the Big Island.

For those interested in snorkeling, there are plenty of reviews available for various snorkel spots. Kahalu’u Beach Park is known for its colorful fish and thriving coral reef. Captain Cook Monument offers the chance to explore a vibrant underwater world, with the monument itself serving as a reference point. two step is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, known for its crystal-clear water and abundant marine life. Mile Marker 4 is a local favorite, with easy entry access, calm waters, and beautiful coral formations. He’eia Bay is another hidden gem, offering a secluded snorkel experience with plenty of marine wildlife. These snorkeling spots provide different experiences and opportunities to witness the underwater beauty of Hawaii.


Ho’okena Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii truly stands out as a premier snorkel spot. Its unique location, with its distance from Kona town, offers a less crowded and more tranquil experience. The easy water access, wildlife encounters, minimal water traffic, and excellent facilities all contribute to the beach’s appeal. Ho’okena Beach is renowned for its opportunities to see dolphins, rays, turtles, and even whales from shore. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the marine environment while respecting new laws prohibiting the approach to dolphins. By familiarizing oneself with local laws and snorkeling etiquette, visitors can have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Beyond snorkeling, the Big Island of Hawaii offers numerous adventures for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails such as Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a, Pololu Valley, Green Sand Beach, and Makalawena Beach provide stunning views and unique experiences. With its abundance of natural wonders, Hawaii’s Big Island is a paradise for nature lovers. Ho’okena Beach remains a hidden gem that showcases the island’s beauty and provides visitors with the chance to connect with the natural environment. From its local and tourist appeal to its natural shade and unique views, Ho’okena Beach offers a safe and memorable snorkeling experience for all.