Best Snorkeling Spot at Kahaluʻu Beach Park, Kona, Big Island

Best Snorkeling Spot at Kahaluʻu Beach Park, Kona, Big Island

Discover the allure of Kahaluʻu Beach Park! Snorkel through vibrant reefs or ride the waves like an ancient Hawaiian surfer.
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With wonders hidden beneath the sea on Hawaii’s West Coast, Kahaluʻu Beach Park is a must-stop for sea lovers and adventure seekers. It’s not only a diving paradise; it’s also home to historic heiaus that whisper stories of ancient Hawaii. You’ll have fun learning to surf or snorkeling in the island’s mesmerizing waters.


Do you like snorkeling? Snorkel in hand, flippers on your feet, surrounded by a spectrum of marine life. Kahaluu Beach Park is one of the places in Hawaii where you can do just that. Let’s take a look at what this underwater paradise has to offer.

Kahaluʻu Bay is not just a scenic spot; it’s an underwater wonder thanks to its vibrant coral reef. You can swim alongside majestic honu (green sea turtles), spot hidden octopuses and be surprised by the intricate beauty of sea urchins and eels.

snorkeling dive into kahaluu bays underwater hawaii

The fish life here is straight out of an animated movie! You can expect to see the bright Yellow Tang, the quirky Bullethead Parrotfish and the stylish Racoon Butterflyfish, among others. Known for its great snorkeling and sheltered bay, this area is a real underwater festival.

Best Entry Point: Where and How to Dive?

The channel near the lifeguard tower is your entry point to this amazing underwater realm. You need to be very careful as the lava rock is slippery and rough. Many experienced snorkelers recommend water shoes or neoprene surf socks for comfort and safety.

A little tip from us: Wait to prepare until you cross the rocky area. Carry your mask, snorkel and fins in one hand and use the other hand for balance. After crossing the rocks, you will see a sandy place. This is the perfect place to get ready. Then in the water, head towards the center of the bay to see the impressive coral formations.

Safety Tips

Safety is very important for an enjoyable snorkeling experience. The bay’s current usually flows northward and is gentle, but can be strong, especially during large waves.

  • Check your position regularly; currents can be deceptive.
  • Lifeguards are there to help.
  • Listen to their announcements and don’t hesitate to point them out if you are in trouble.
  • In an emergency where there are no lifeguards around, call 911 and report that you are in the snorkeling area of Kahaluʻu Beach Park.

Now, let’s talk about reef behavior. The reef at Kahaluʻu Beach Park is a fragile ecosystem already bearing the brunt of its own popularity. Here are some golden rules:

  • Coral is alive. It’s not just lava rock and coral you can step on. When snorkeling, avoid touching or chasing any sea creatures, including coral, with your body or fins. This includes colorful invertebrate species and fish that feed on seaweed in the middle of the reef.
  • The waters may be shallow, but this is no excuse to put your feet on the ground or walk on the reef. If you need to adjust your equipment, swim towards a sandy spot. The diverse marine life on Kahaluʻu relies on the integrity of their habitat.
  • Sunscreens containing harmful chemicals are bad news for reefs. Fortunately, reef-safe sunscreen dispensers are now installed in the pavilion at the Gulf Education Center. They use active ingredients like Zinc oxide or Titanium dioxide that are friendly to our coral friends. If you forgot to bring your own, you can use them here.


Long before surf shops and surfboard rentals, the northern tip of Kahaluʻu Bay was a sacred place for surfing. The place where ancient Hawaiians prayed for good surfing conditions at Kuʻemanu Heiau, which still stands today. Even back then, people appreciated a killer wave.

surfs up riding the waves at kahaluu bay hawaii

The transparent, crystal clear waters of the bay offer a unique surfing experience. You can actually see the reef under your board as you surf! The waves at Kahaluʻu Bay are ideal for surfers of all skill levels.

For beginners, reef breaks and reforms offer smaller, manageable waves. More experienced surfers can enjoy waves up to 4-6 feet high in choppy weather.

Kahaluʻu Beach Park Facilities

Ride the waves, explore the coral reefs or perhaps just lie back and soak up the sun. Kahaluʻu Beach Park not only offers great waves and stunning marine life, but also some amenities to make your visit as comfortable as possible.

  • Firstly, free parking means you won’t have to worry about where to leave your car.
  • Once inside, you’ll notice the beach conditions board that keeps you up to date, handy when it’s cloudy or if you’re wondering about water clarity even at particularly high tide.
  • For those who like a good picnic, there are several picnic areas around, perfect for a family meal.
  • If you’ve been exploring along Alii Drive, the park is conveniently located for a quick break or to relax all day.
  • If you don’t like the sun, there are covered pavilions ideal for some shade or a sheltered dining spot.
  • You don’t need to be a genius to know that these sports can be tiring (and a little sandy). To freshen up after conquering the waves, there are conveniently bathrooms and an outdoor shower next to the area.
  • For those who want a more secluded setting, head to the palm grove on the far side of the beach. Here you will find additional picnic tables and barbecue grills tucked under the shade of tall palm trees.

Where is Kahaluʻu Beach Park?

Kahaluʻu Beach Park is located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, specifically in the area known as the Kona Coast. Just 5 miles south of Kailua-Kona, it’s a small town full of shops, cafes and that laid-back Hawaiian island vibe we all crave.

kahaluu beach park hawaii

When you locate it on the map, you’ll find it at the intersection of Ali’i Drive and Kahaluʻu Road, making it a convenient stop for locals and tourists alike.

How to Get to Kahaluʻu Beach Park?

Ready to kick off your tropical vacation? Let us get you to Kahaluʻu Beach Park, the hidden gem of the Big Island, as effortlessly as possible.

By car: The beach park is just a 5-mile drive south of downtown Kailua-Kona. Hop on Aliʻi Drive and head south; you can’t miss it.

Parking: If you’re visiting from outside Hawaii, there is a small parking fee at four-hour intervals from 7am to 7pm each day.

  • For snorkelers: Your best option is to park in the parking lot, conveniently located on the south side of the bay, next to the restrooms. This spot is ideal for those keen to explore the water at Kahaluʻu Beach, with its rich marine life and coral reefs.
  • For surfers: If you want to catch some waves, try the parking lots on the Ma Kai (ocean) side of the road at the end of the bay. Overflow parking is available on Makolea Street directly opposite the main parking lot entrance or on the Ma Uka (mountain) side of the road.

By Kona Tram: You can also opt for the Kona Trolley, which stops at various points along Ali’i Drive. This is not only economical, but also a fun way to mingle with the locals and take in the scenery.


Kahaluʻu Beach Park continues to attract its visitors not only with its beauty but also with the various activities it offers.

This private beach, where you can enjoy both under and above the sea, is one of the places you can choose to experience unforgettable moments on the Kona Coast. Enjoy spending time in this special corner of Hawaii while swimming among hundreds of colorful fish or tracing the traces of ancient surfing rituals.