Photo by Wayne Levin/Photo Resource Hawaii
BEST BIG ISLAND SNORKELING BEACHES
Magic Sands Beach attracts residents and visitors alike for their own patch of beach, as well as the tiny cove’s sheltered waters and terrific Big Island snorkeling. It’s also a favorite park for barbecues, picnics and family outings.
Kahaluu Beach Park, along Alii Drive between Kailua-Kona and Keauhou, is one of the most popular swimming and best snorkeling sites on the Big Island. There is a small cove where King Kamehameha I had a seawall built in the surf to make it a safe place for his family to enjoy the ocean. Surrounded by shady trees, it has calm waters with colorful corals, rock formations, many species of fish, green sea turtles and waves for surfing at the north end. A pavilion, restrooms and showers are provided, with concession stands and beach rental gear close by. Lifeguards are on duty.
Kealakekua Bay sits below the quiet town of Kealakekua, subject of the popular song “My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii,” by Johnny Noble. The bay is where Capt. James Cook was killed in a skirmish with natives in 1779, commemorated today by a white obelisk. Most snorkelers arrive on special cruise boats that motor over from Kailua-Kona.
Reeds Bay Beach Park is one of Hilo’s favorite parks for locals to escape on weekends, favored for shaded picnics, calm waters fed by a nearby freshwater spring, snorkeling and relaxed swimming. Located at the end of Banyan Drive on the east side of Waiakea Peninsula.
SUN, SAND & SURF – ABOUT BIG ISLAND BEACHES
As the youngest island in the Hawaiian Chain, Hawaii Island has not had as much geological time to create as many beaches as, say, Kauai or Oahu. In fact, new beachfront property is being created along the southern coastline where fresh lava is pouring into the sea daily. And, yet, there are still plenty of great beaches all around the Big Island, if you know where to go, especially along Kona’s “Gold Coast.” The calm waters around Hilo offer fun snorkeling and safe swimming, while Hilo Bay sometimes gets good size surf in the winter months. Surfers also find their share of waves at Puna’s Isaac Hale Beach Park, at Honolii, a popular break just north of Hilo, and at various breaks along the vast Kona Coast. Seasonal surf comes to Hawaii’s south shores in the summer and to its north shores in the winter months. It is always advisable to swim only at lifeguard-attended beaches.
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