Kahaluu is one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island. Many of the tourist brochures and maps simply refer to this place as “Snorkel Beach”. Fed by a fresh water spring, up to 10 million gallons per day. These waters are almost always calm, with Raccoon Butterfly Fish at Kahaluucolorful corals, rock formations, and 100+ species of fish.
Swim with huge schools of colorful fish and green sea turtles in these protected waters; don’t forget your underwater camera! The north end of the beach is where the waves break and is best for body boarding and surfing. Check the water conditions; when ocean swells are present, the water can be murky.
In the days of the Hawaiian kings, with many of the islands’ beaches having dangerous surf and riptides, King Kamehameha wanted a safe place for his family to enjoy the ocean. He had his workers construct a seawall in the surf to protect a small cove on the Snorkelers at Kahaluu Beachsunny side of the Big Island.
This cove today is known as Kahaluu Beach Park – one of the most popular swimming and best snorkeling sites in the Kona district. The beach is salt-and-pepper colored sand with lots of shady trees surrounding it. There is a sandy entrance to the water for snorkelers on the north side of the beach. Often, you can see turtles swimming the shallow waters right from the beach or while you walk on the sea wall!
View Kahaluu Beach Park in a larger map
The best snorkel route (see light-blue line in map above) is to head to the southwest, towards the lava rock breakwater (aim for the pavilion restaurant) – this keeps you swimming against the current. Swim against the current on your way out, that way you Colorful coral reef at Kahaluuare swimming with the current on your way back to shore. Try to head out to the lava rocks into as shallow water as possible – once you get into about 2-feet or less of water, the coral reef is pristine and the underwater life is spectacular. The coral reef is most prolific out here, in the shallow water adjacent the lava break water. Also, most of the tourists will stay closer to shore – so if you make it out here, it will be just you, the coral, and the colorful fish! Slowly swim to the North as the current pushes you Coral Reef at Kahaluuthat way. As you circle through the deeper water on your way back to the beach, you will more than likely see some green sea turtles swimming. In the most vibrant part of the reef you are certain to see numerous large parrot fish, puffer fish, butterfly fish, and the usual myriad of Hawaiian tropical fish. Some of the fish congregate in huge groups almost like a giant cloud of colorful fish. Enjoy the great snorkeling!
Get out and enjoy the spectacular Kona coast! The Big Island has many great tour providers that can show you the best kayaking and snorkeling spots near Kahalu’u Beach and throughout Kona. If you enjoyed snorkeling here, you must check out the reef at Captain Cook, Kealakekua Bay.
Kahalu’u is a Family Beach
Kahaluu is well visited because of the calm, protected waters – perfect for families and kids. Because of its popularity, parking can be hard to find, so come early! The shallow, clear waters are abundant with sea life. Shady trees surround this beautiful sandy beach. Facilities include a pavilion, rest rooms, showers, a lifeguard tower, and limited parking. This beach is baby stroller accessible. Concession stands and beach rental gear stores are located nearby. A narrow path takes you directly to the Resort’s Beach Bar & Grill, which serves sandwiches and plate lunches. Young kids will love to play in the sand and the shallow water as sea turtles crawl up on the beach next to them. Older kids and teenagers will enjoy the wonderful snorkeling or sit on shore watching the surfers catch their sets. Want to catch some waves? Sign up for daily surfing lessons and ride the waves while your family watches from the beach nearby!
Directions: Kahaluu Beach Park is located 5 1/2 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Ali’i Drive, at the 5-mile marker, just south of Magic Sands Beach and near the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort. PHONE: 808/961-8311. View map of Kahalu’u Bay.
Kona Snorkeling: Check out our Kona Snorkeling Section for more information on snorkeling Kahaluu and other great locations. Want to take your digital camera underwater? Check out our water-proof underwater cases.
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Vacation Rentals Near Kahaluu
Check out our extensive listing of over 100 Big Island vacation rentals, most are near Kailua-Kona – and many are within walking distance of Kahaluu Beach Park. From economic beachfront one bedrooms, to large condos for multiple families.