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Kona Snorkeling 101: Tips, Locations, and Must-See Sites

Kona snorkeling

Snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii is an exciting experience for all ages. You’ll get the chance to come up close and personal with a variety of marine life, stunning coral reefs, and may even see pods of dolphins or whales jumping from the water further offshore. There’s so much to explore so we wanted to break it down to our top tips and must-see things while planning your adventure.

Essential Gear for Kona Snorkeling: A Comprehensive Checklist

What should be at the top of your mind when it comes to planning your snorkel adventure on the Big Island is ensuring that you have everything you need for a successful day! The basics are a good mask and snorkel; ideally one that isn’t cracked, fits well to your face, and doesn’t fog easily (but you will find most snorkel tour boats have defog solution on board)! If you are expecting to be out in the water for a while or snorkeling a reef with rougher waves, you may want a pair of fins to make it easier to swim around without having to use your arms as much. This allows for a smoother snorkel experience overall.

What’s great about booking your snorkel adventure in an area like Kona, is the trusted local tour companies will have all these bases covered for you! They may even provide floaties, like pool noodles, to ensure maximum buoyancy. The goal is for you to see as much as you can while in the water!

Insider Tips for Incredible Kona Snorkeling Experiences

Outside of going through a checklist of everything you may need, equipment-wise, there are a few tips that we recommend so that you have a great time during the snorkel trip as well as in the hours and days after. The two most important tips are to stay hydrated and reapply sunscreen! Like the essential equipment, a lot of snorkel tour boats will come with water, juice, and even some snacks on board! This is super important to ensure that the guests aboard are taken care of as the salty ocean water can be super dehydrating, especially when swimming around for hours. 

Some boats will also have sunscreen, another extremely important thing that you should keep handy when doing any sort of snorkel or water activity in Hawaii. The water is known to reflect the UV rays, that mixed with no shade will increase your risk of sunburn. However, not all sunscreens are made the same. While in Hawaii, be sure that you are using Reef Safe Sunscreen; these will be marked on the packaging as well as reef safe sunscreens only containing natural mineral ingredients. Do not fall for the marketing of “Reef Friendly” sunscreens, these brands most likely still contain harmful chemicals that endanger the reef and sea life that depend on it.

Safety First: Important Precautions for Kona Snorkeling

Outside of making sure that you are hydrated, sunscreened-up, and equipped with the best snorkeling gear; a successful snorkeling trip starts and ends with staying in your comfort zone. Luckily, the best reefs in South Kona are located inside bays, sheltering them from the harsher conditions that come with open ocean snorkels. Alongside that, we highly recommend that you book your snorkel trip with an accredited local tour company as they are experts in local marine life and can craft a trip that meets your expectations and experience levels. If you have any questions or concerns about whether a snorkel tour is family friends or requires previous snorkel experience, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to these highly rated companies to get guidance on what and when to book!

Top Snorkeling Locations in Kona

As briefly mentioned, the best snorkel locations in Kona are often part of the best snorkel tours in the state as well as are accessible to guests of all skill levels. To name a few: Captain Cook Monument, the Place of Refuge, and even a secret Black Sand Beach in South Kona that our snorkel trip at Sea Quest Hawaii, will take you too.

We find it comforting to know that you can book with  confidence and ensure that you have everything you’ll need for the day when you embark with a trusted local snorkel boat. If you have any questions or want to learn more about how to take part in one of these awesome adventures, be sure to reach out to our team!