Snorkeling and Scuba
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The island of Hawaiʻi and its clear blue waters are truly a snorkeling and scuba paradise. The island’s east side has a handful of spots for beginning snorkelers and scuba divers including Hilo’s Leleiwi Beach and Richardson Beach Park. But the Kona side is even more famous for its visibility and calm waters, protected from the winds by the massive slopes of Maunaloa.
For snorkeling on the Kohala Coast, visit Hāpuna Beach, ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach as well as ʻŌhaiʻula (also known as Sam Spencer Park) below Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. On the Kona Coast, visitors can explore Kahaluʻu Beach Park south of Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) in Keauhou and Hōnaunau Bay near Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park. Hōnaunau Bay is the perfect example of the calm and clear waters of south Kona and features a spot on the shoreline where the volcanic rock has been neatly worn away into a convenient “two-step” entry point for snorkelers and divers.
One of the most memorable experiences you can have on the island of Hawaiʻi is a swim with manta rays. Book a sunset dive tour and head out to the Kona or Keauhou coast to either scuba dive or snorkel with these gentle mantas (mantas don’t have stingers like sting rays or eagle rays). You’ll marvel at how these otherworldly creatures glide within inches of you as they feed on microscopic plankton in the illuminated waters.
For serious snorkeling, it’s best to take a boat charter or travel with a local guide, somebody who knows the best spots and who can read changing weather patterns. For scuba divers, you can take an introductory “resort course” for beginners or most dive shops offer certification courses for more advanced dives. Some of Hawaiʻi’s best snorkeling and scuba diving can be found on the island of Hawaiʻi.
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