Today, we are going to review Kua Bay, one of the most stunning beaches on Hawaii’s Big Island. This beach is not only beautiful, but it also offers excellent snorkeling opportunities. Throughout this article, Adventures in Aviators will provide a comprehensive review of Kua Bay, focusing on its location, water access, wildlife, water traffic, and facilities. We will give each category a rating on a scale of one to five manta rays, helping you determine if Kua Bay is the perfect snorkeling destination for you. So, let’s dive in and explore the wonders of Kua Bay!

Kua Bay is located on the west side of Hawaii’s Big Island, just north of Kailua Kona. Accessing the beach is relatively easy, as there are clear landmarks to guide you. Despite being about 20 minutes from the resorts, the drive to Kua Bay is well-paved and convenient. Once you arrive, the beach’s fine sand and smooth water entry make it a delight for snorkelers of all levels. The abundance of sea life and the presence of lifeguards make it a safe and exciting spot. However, be prepared for the popularity of the beach, as it can get crowded later in the day. Nonetheless, Kua Bay is a must-visit destination for snorkelers seeking a memorable experience in Hawaii’s turquoise waters.


Snorkeling Review - Kua Bay, Hawaii (Big Island)

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Kua Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches on Hawaii’s Big Island. Located along the island’s west side, it offers stunning views and crystal clear waters. The beach is known for its fine sand and picturesque setting, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.


To get to Kua Bay, head north from Kailua Kona on highway 19 or the Lower Road. Look for the turn near the large cinder cone, which is quite noticeable. If you are coming from town, you will be making a left turn towards Kua Bay. The beach is a part of Kakahakai State Park, so it’s important to be aware of the different turn-offs in the area and follow the signs accordingly.

Proximity to Resorts

For those staying at the resorts further north, Kua Bay is conveniently located as it is just a 20-minute drive away. It serves as a great spot for beachgoers looking to enjoy the beautiful coastline without venturing too far from their accommodations.


Overall, Kua Bay’s location is a solid 3 out of 5 mantas. It’s centrally located between the resorts and town, making it accessible for most visitors. However, it does require a drive for both groups, which slightly affects its rating.

Water Access

Beach Description

Kua Bay features a stunning beach with fine sand, adding to its appeal. The beach itself offers a wide expanse of sand, perfect for lounging and sunbathing. It is well-maintained and clean, providing a pleasant environment for visitors.

Ease of Water Access

One of the standout features of Kua Bay is its easy water access. You can simply stroll right into the water from the beach, without any major obstacles. This makes it convenient for both swimmers and snorkelers to enter the water and enjoy their activities.

Presence of Lava Rock

While the Big Island is known for its lava rock formations, Kua Bay has minimal lava rock to navigate. Although there are some areas with lava rock, they are easily avoidable and shouldn’t pose a significant challenge for visitors.


In terms of water access, Kua Bay receives a perfect score of 5 out of 5 mantas. With its easy entry into the water and minimal lava rock, it provides a hassle-free experience for beachgoers and snorkelers alike.


Variety of Fish

Kua Bay offers a diverse range of fish species, thanks to its location along the west side of the island. Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of colorful fish swimming among the coral reefs. The clear waters make it easy to spot different species and observe their natural behavior.

Presence of Rays

One of the highlights of Kua Bay is the potential to encounter rays while snorkeling. Both eagle rays and manta rays can be found in the area, adding to the excitement and uniqueness of the snorkeling experience. Spotting these majestic creatures gliding through the water is a truly memorable sight.

Coral Diversity

The bay boasts a decent variety of coral formations, making it an appealing destination for snorkelers interested in marine life. The diverse coral reefs provide habitats for different fish species and create a vibrant underwater ecosystem.


Kua Bay offers varied depths for snorkelers to explore. There is a decent drop-off, allowing visitors to encounter marine life in both shallow and deeper areas. Swimmers should always be mindful of their depth and stay within their comfort level.

Currents and Swell

While the water at Kua Bay can have some decent swell, it doesn’t pose a significant challenge for snorkelers. However, visitors should pay attention to the currents and be cautious, especially if they venture further out or encounter stronger swells.


Considering the variety of fish, presence of rays, coral diversity, and overall snorkeling experience, Kua Bay receives a rating of 4 out of 5 mantas. Snorkelers can expect to encounter a rich underwater world filled with fascinating marine life.

Water Traffic


Kua Bay is a popular destination, which means it can get crowded, especially as the day progresses. In the mornings, there are already a considerable number of visitors enjoying the beach, so it’s important to be prepared for some level of crowding.

Activity Level

While Kua Bay attracts many beachgoers, most of the activity occurs around the beach area rather than in the water. Snorkelers will find that there are typically only a handful of people in the water at any given time, making it a more peaceful and enjoyable experience.

Tour Boats

Unlike other snorkel spots on the Big Island, Kua Bay does not have a significant presence of tour boats. Snorkelers can expect a quieter experience without constant boat traffic disrupting the natural beauty of the bay.


With a reasonable level of crowding and minimal tour boat traffic, Kua Bay receives a rating of 3 out of 5 mantas for water traffic. While it can get busy, it still offers a relatively calm and tranquil snorkeling environment.



Kua Bay boasts excellent facilities, making it a convenient and comfortable beach to visit. The facilities are well-maintained and contribute to enhancing the overall experience for visitors.

Stairs and Pathways

To access the beach, visitors can utilize the stairs that lead down from the parking area. These stairs provide a safe and convenient way to reach the beach, even for those with limited mobility. Additionally, there are different pathways constructed over the lava rock to facilitate easy movement around the beach area.

Shower Opportunities

Kua Bay offers various shower opportunities where visitors can rinse off after a day at the beach. With so much sand present, it’s essential to clean up before leaving to prevent tracking sand into vehicles or accommodations.


Unlike some other beaches on the island, Kua Bay has permanent restroom facilities. These facilities provide convenience and hygiene for visitors, ensuring their comfort during their time at the beach.


While Kua Bay has excellent facilities, parking can be a challenge. The designated parking spots fill up quickly, especially during peak hours. Visitors may need to park further away and walk to the beach, so arriving early is advisable.

Sun Exposure

It’s important to note that Kua Bay has limited shade, so visitors should come prepared with sun protection. Bringing sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas will help mitigate the effects of direct exposure to the sun.


Given the quality and convenience of the facilities, Kua Bay receives a perfect rating of 5 out of 5 mantas. The availability of stairs, pathways, showers, restrooms, and other amenities contributes to a comfortable and enjoyable beach experience.


Overall Rating

Kua Bay on Hawaii’s Big Island is a picturesque beach that offers excellent snorkeling opportunities. With its stunning location, easy water access, diverse wildlife, and well-maintained facilities, it provides an overall enjoyable experience for visitors.


For those seeking a beautiful beach with abundant marine life, Kua Bay is highly recommended. Its convenient location and amenities make it a popular choice among tourists and locals alike. Snorkelers will appreciate the ease of water access and the chance to encounter rays and diverse fish species.

Tips for Visitors

  • Arrive early to secure parking, as spots fill up quickly.
  • Bring reef-safe sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas to protect against the sun’s strong rays.
  • Don’t forget to rinse off at the various shower opportunities to remove sand before leaving the beach.
  • Be cautious of the currents and swell, especially if venturing further from the shore.
  • Respect the marine life and environment by observing from a distance and leaving the beach as clean as possible.

Overall, Kua Bay is a must-visit snorkel spot on the Big Island, offering a fantastic combination of natural beauty, accessibility, and an impressive array of marine life. Enjoy your snorkeling adventure at Kua Bay!