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Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

Reedsport, Oregon
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Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

We will be in Kona next may and snorkeling will probably be our main activity while there. I have read the comments on the different areas and such and have looked around the book "Snorkel Hawaii The Big Island" and I'm wondering if it's worth it to get a boat trip to Captain Cook or just go from shore. Is Kealakekua Bay any better than say Honaunau Bay, Anaeho'omalu Bay or Kahalu'u Beach?

Island of Hawaii...
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1. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

well, leaving aside the state of Kealakekua which some say is not so nice any more, but I don't personally know ... I believe that a small tour is bound to take you to some very fine snorkeling. That's why you pay the big bucks to do it.

Kahalu'u is going to be a zoo, unless you go really early, and A-bay is not much of a spot ... see Honu Ohana's write-up of snorkeling here. She highly endorses Mauna Lani Beach Club.

May is a great month to come when you should be able to do shore snorkeling -- so what you might do is try the shore snorkeling and see if you are happy not to spend all that money.

In the winter, the South Kohala coast can get pretty rough and it can be hard to get into Honaunau if there is surge, so at that time the tours offer you the best bet for calm water and easy entry.

I also recommend the Wai Opae tidepools if you get over to the east side. Beautiful coral, blue and purple.

Reedsport, Oregon
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2. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

Thanks for the great info. I had Makaiwa (Mauna Lani) marked as must even with the walk. I also read that Kahalu'u was busy but still good snorkeling. Sounds kind of like Kapalua on Maui. I wondered about those tidepools when I was looking at the islands shorelines on Microsoft Virtual Earth sat photos. One question about that, it says to go around the North end belt road to get there not around the South or over Cross Island Rd. from Kona. Is that good info?

Island of Hawaii...
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3. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

you mean to get to Kapoho?

It doesn't matter whether you go north or south; you have to go to Kea'au and take Hwy 130 to 132 in any case. (If you need further directions I can give them).

I would choose the route to the east side based on where else you want to stop and what scenery you want. I have to say it's a heck of a day trip to Kapoho from Kona just to snorkel. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it; it's a lot more convenient if you're spending a night or two on the east side.

Don't tax yourself ...

it's 45 minutes from Hilo (and maybe an hour from Volcano) to Kapoho, and maybe add 3 hours from Kona? Almost an 8 hour round trip without the snorkeling ... too much.

Don't worry; you will get to do plenty of snorkeling on the west side.

If you are an experienced snorkeler/swimmer you might also add Mahukona or Lapakahi to your list (North Kohala, see Snorkel Hawai'i) ... because you're coming in May and the water should be pretty calm.

North Kohala is kind of sympatico with folks from Northern California, Oregon, Washington, so I would suggest it's worth driving up there and exploring for at least one day. Check out Hawi and maybe Kapa'au while up there.

Also try Waialea Bay aka Beach 69 for a less crowded area.

oregon
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4. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

Find a boat trip to take to Kealakekua Bay early as possible. It would be a long hike and the hill is steep. And you have to walk over the coral to get out. We were there in May and there were so many kayaks pulled up on the shore, ruining the coral. It will be great when the State outlaws this. We use the Fairwinds morning snorkel and really like it. I always try to keep to myself snorkeling and away from the crowds and always see lots of fish. The boat was probably 1/2 full this trip so made it that much nicer. The water there is amazing.

Kahalu'u is a great place to snorkel and it was very crowded this time. But it's a pretty bit area to snorkel once you get out from the crowd.

Honaunau is great and very different from Kahalu'u. Much deeper.

And for a really beautiful beach hit Kua Bay. It has the whitest sand and clearest blue water. There is a bit of snorkeling there off to the right, but not like the above places.

My favorite thing about Hawaii is the snorkeling and I'd pick the BI over any other the islands any day.

Palm Springs...
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5. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

I agree with oregons hope the state will outlaw Kayaking in total at Capt cook..... but by the time that happens the reef will be as broken and dead as Kahalulu...

Kahalulu is great to see turtles being chased hundreds of snorklers... and what can happen in short time. by... Well meaning but unaware visitors ..... In a few years Capt cook willl look the same.

In truth the snorkelng from a boat is always better than shore

clearer watter, no damage to coral or shore; sites that are not impacted or acessable. also far better visability and more life.

Boat Snorkeling ( Sea Paradise, Fairwinds, Body Glove, Ocean Sports, Sea quest) is also the most eco-sensitive and responsible way th explore hawaii.... and learn about what you are seeing too

Portland, OR
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6. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

I concur, the best and most responsible way to snorkel is a boat tour, everywhere except at two-step, where shore snorkeling is possible.

Good luck and happy travels!

oregon
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7. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

Another Oregonian LOL

We just returned from a trip to the BI and I would highly recommend one of the smaller boats for the morning trip to Capt. Cook. We did Dolphin Discoveries and were there by ourselves for an hour before the masses showed up. We also did Sea Quest. DD has the advantage of a shade cover.

A Bay is not as pristine, but early in the morning before the wind picks up is still a nice shoreline entry. We did drive further north and noted the previous mentioned sites for next time.

One thing we learned from our trip is not to spend the day driving different places. Chose one and enjoy. Take it all in.

st paul, mn
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8. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

at two step be careful of urchins as they are all over in the rocks.

Reedsport, Oregon
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9. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

KamaainaK, yes I meant to the tidepools at Kapoho. Virtual Earth on Microsofts Live search lets mark locations as well as get directions and it said from Kona to take 190 to 19 for fastest 190 to 200 for shortest. And I see you can also go 11 around the South. I just wanted to know from someone who has driven them which is the fastest. I know its a long way to snorkel but from what I've read the coral there is quite unique and we are use to 10 hours of driving since most of our family live that far away from us here on the mainland.

As for Mahukona & Lapakahi, I already had then marked down. Wai'alea looks great and Puako next to it looks nice too. We will definitely Head up to Kohala. What are the areas that look like orchards in Kapaau? MacNuts?

Thanks all for the great info. I think we will forgo any boat trip except for maybe a Manta trip. We can use the money for other things and we enjoy being on our own schedule not someone else's.

Island of Hawaii...
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10. Re: Snorkeling: Shore vs. boat

Hi again Dreaming,

In answer to your question, yes, I think the northern route 190 to 19 is probably faster to get to Kea'au than Hwy 11 south, but from Kona it is almost a tossup. 19 can be pretty fast if there's not too much road work . The Saddle is probably a little faster but it has its dangers, especially at night, and it isn't MUCH faster, and it sure isn't as comfortable with all the potholes and dips as either of the main routes.

Yes, those are mac nut orchards all over the hills of windward North Kohala.

It's cool looking at the satellite hybrid images, isn't it?

The coral at Wai Opae is very special. I just wish you could stay overnight. You could probably find cheap digs for well under $100 for the two of you; then you could spend the day there and wouldn't have to drive at night.