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Snorkeling with family in Hawaii

Discussion in 'SCUBA Discussion' started by Octopi, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Octopi

    Octopi Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Just got back from a week in Hawaii (Big Island) and wanted to share the experience and some recommendations. I had to buy a bunch of equipment for my tank (new Apex, new return pump) right before the trip so didn’t have budget to buy a GoPro which I regret. So, no photos but I’ll share some recommendations for those thinking about going there one day and if interested, I’m sure you’ll find higher quality photos on Google Images than I could take anyhow.

    I used to think Bermuda was best place to snorkel but Hawaii beats it by far. Hawaii actually looks like our fish tanks - all the tangs, triggers and butterflyfish you’d see in the hobby. First thing I noticed is some of the fish are a lot larger than in my tank - much larger. Some of those yellow tangs could eat my yellow tang for lunch. I know the fish in our hobby stay smaller because of food and habitat but forgot just how much.

    Hilton Waikoloa lagoon (northwest)— this probably sounds a bit cheesy for anyone that does serious diving but if you have small kids, the Hilton Waikoloa has a calm lagoon with a ton of fish right there. My kids got their first real snorkeling experience there. A ton of Hawaiian Blue Boxfish, huge naso tangs (I think that is what they were), eels, picasso triggers and more.

    Two-step / Honaunau Bay (southwest) - not kid friendly (at least not for the 7 year old) as it was rough and a bit of a challenge getting in and out. Actually stabbed myself pretty good on an urchin when getting slammed against the rocks. You see some coral and a slightly different fish selection. Saw a ton of Kole Tangs and Parrot Fish in addition to the usual triggers and tangs. Not exactly sure what the coral was but mostly very large orange plating corals. Recommend full gear with fins. Locals seemed to all be wearing wetsuits.

    Kapoho Tide Pools (southeast near Pahoa) - this is by far my favorite place I’ve ever been snorkeling and is also kid friendly (for the most part- everyone got a little cut up from the volcanic rocks you walk on to get to the tide pools at low tide). They advise you to use reef safe sunblock or preferably none at all to reduce harm to the corals. We spent the entire day here and got a pretty serious sunburn - well worth it! There are several tide pools that are calm and full of fish. You can also go out to sea to see more corals. This is where I saw the most Moorish Idols. I saw all of the common Hawaiian fish there including many long nose butterflyfish and the Hawaiian Domino/Damsel. Also, several huge red pencil urchins (maybe?) which I’d never seen before. The tide pools area doesn’t really need fins and you might accidentally kick the coral if you did use them so water shoes were fine for me.

    If you go, get some good water shoes. The shoreline is almost always rugged volcanic rock so nearly impossible without water shoes.

    Hope that was helpful. I’m always excited to read about others trips on here so looking forward to any recommendations others may have for the next trip.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  2. TheRealChrisBrown

    TheRealChrisBrown Tuna Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    I loved two step when I was last there. Actually the I consider that the best snorkling I've ever had. We were there with my kids, but maybe the day we were there is was calmer? We are making a return trip to Kauai in 7 weeks....but the snorkling there isn't nearly as good as the big island.
  3. spinycheek

    spinycheek Featured Sponsors Featured Sponsor

    We just got back from the Big Island too! The snorkeling is mind blowing there. I'm pretty envious of Kapoho, that was always a favorite place, but I remember the razor rocks and decided our 3 year old wouldn't be the best candidate for navigating the rocks. Maybe next time though... We did manage to get to honaunau which was super awesome. There were also lots of really bright green zoanthid mats in those little tide pools where all the kids pee.
  4. spinycheek

    spinycheek Featured Sponsors Featured Sponsor

  5. goslugsgo

    goslugsgo Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Next time try:
    Kahaluu, at the end of Ali'i going south before it goes up to Keauhou. Super easy beach entry with great fish action. It can get a little blown out so go early for best water and crowd conditions. It receives a ton of pressure so the corals aren't as good, but that's what the next one is for!

    Kealakekua, best done by snorkel boat. Easily the best snorkeling in the islands, IMO. Because it is hard to get to it's not crowded and the direction it's facing protects it from surf so it is invariably calm.

    For the future, when the kids can dive:
    Manta dive in Garden Eel Cove. Ridiculously awesome. Afternoon dive has garden eels in the shallowest water I've ever seen. Super cool spot that dolphins and mantas frequent in the daytime as well.

    Blackwater dive. Four miles out in 4500-5000' of water, at night, you get tethered to the boat at about 20' down and get to see a National Geographic show as the deep-water creatures come up at night to feed. Not for the faint-of-heart, that's for sure.

    My mom lives out there, so if you need a local contact give me a shout.
  6. spinycheek

    spinycheek Featured Sponsors Featured Sponsor

    I really want to do that blackwater dive.
  7. Fourthwind

    Fourthwind Amphipod M.A.S.C Club Member

    The best snorkel / dive at the big island for me was the night time manta ray dive. Amazing life experience.

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