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Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

Arlington, TX
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Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

SO torn on where to stay for a September trip. First big trip without the kids in 20 years. Main interest is snorkeling and are looking at vacation rentals not resorts. Would like to be on or across street from good snorkeling area--actual sandy beach is less important. I've seen rentals I like in Puako, Alii Drive just north of Kahalu'u Beach, and the Napo'opo'o area of Kealakekua Bay.

If anyone has any pro's or con's for these areas, I would love to hear them. (Or other areas I have overlooked.) I am somewhat concerned about the heat in the southern areas in September. I'm hoping if we are close enough to the water, I can just jump in when I get hot! Are nights uncomfortable even with ceiling fans this time of year?

Thanks so much.

Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

The snorkeling is good island wide in September, but yes, it will be very hot in Kailua Kona and environs.

Kealakekua won't really work as the good snorkeling there isn't really from shore, it's a mile across the bay. Plus the Bay is really

suffering from overuse. You would be a short drive away from Honaunau Bay which has great snorkeling but no beach. You are more than a hour away from the Kohala Coast beaches there as well.

I wouldn't stay in Kailua Kona because of the heat, the houses are very close together, and the snorkeling is mediocre and crowded.

Puako snorkeling is just ok and there isn't anything else there, like a good beach, but it's an option as it is on the Kohala Coast which will have better weather and more choice of snorkeling within a short drive.

The Big Island does not have the quality and quantity of accessible oceanfront and beachfront vacation homes like Kauai, Oahu, and parts of Maui. There are a few nice ones at Waialea Bay (sometimes they're mistakenly classified under Wailea Bay) which is good snorkeling and a nice beach in a very good location. Otherwise your options are pretty limited to multi million dollar homes in the resort areas or condos, which really may be an option you want to explore if the Big Island is a definite, particularly the Mauna Lani area.

Edited: 21 April 2012, 02:17
Corvallis, Oregon
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2. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

If you stay down at Napoopoo you'd be looking at decent to excellent snorkeling out off Manini Beach and down by Keei beach. Two Step at the Place of Refuge would be just a 8-9 minute drive down the road and would be excellent. If you're a swimmer, the trip around the bay from Napoopoo beach is doable and interesting, snorkeling directly off the beach and from the beach to the wharf is not overly special in my mind.

Kailua has it's share of snorkeling, nothing overly great but still quite passable. If you are right on the water the temperature's not really all that bad of a problem... if there's anything between you and the water you'll be wanting AC at your rental unless you are at 300+ elevation. When it comes to hot, the hottest place I've stayed on the island wasn't Kailua, it was the Four Seasons in September... my stay there had me thinking that imported greenery in the middle of a lava field turns it into a humidified heat sink if there's no tradewinds blowing... a decemt breeze can change all of that most likely.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

Well, the vast majority of oceanfront rentals in Kailua Kona do not have any actual ocean access, so there will be no just jumping in the water. In addition a lot of them have much less airflow than you might think because of their positioning and what's across the street, so I wouldn't count on them being cooler. I think most of the district of Kona in September is ridiculously hot and stifling, and I've spent summers in Central American jungles. There's just something about the lack of breeze and lately, the vog, that's oppressive, and when you add in the people and compressed buildings of town, it's just brutal.

Napoopoo area is not as bad if you're down on the water. The Manini Beach area friscuba mentions would be ok. The only downside to that is you are not near anything else, restaurants, beaches, stores, etc. It's also not as good of weather as the Kohala Coast which has the blue skies and breezes year round, making it more pleasing aesthetically. Also I don't think the snorkeling is nearly as good as up north, although as I said I agree with friscuba Honaunau Bay is very good. It can be crowded and you will have to drive to it from pretty much any vacation rental.

Edited: 21 April 2012, 14:21
Charlottesville...
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4. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

Shea, I'm wondering if there are any less crowded days at Honaunau Bay. We're thinking that an early Sunday morning might be good with less traffic too?

To the OP: We're coming to snorkel the Big Island in September this year, first time to Hawaii. We chose a Golf Villa with a parking pass to the Mauni Lani beach and definitely with A/C.

The one (small) drawback for us will be having to drive south maybe twice in 12 days to take a boat snorkel and to go to 2-step. If we take the SeaQuest snorkel tour, we'll be snorkeling Honaunau Bay twice, once from shore and once from boat.

The other drawback is no ocean view. The positives are sunny skies, no vog, calm September water and very good snorkeling nearby.

Edited: 21 April 2012, 15:04
Arlington, TX
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5. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

Thank you for the replies. I do want to be close to the water, so it looks like I'll need either a/c or a pool in whichever location we choose.

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

Friscuba probably knows better than me, while I used to go to Honaunau Bay all the time when I lived down that way, I only go every few months now, but my experience has always been that weekends are the most crowded. It's a popular snorkel and shore dive spot for residents in addition to the tourist traffic. Even when it's crowded though, it's not like Kahalu'u where you are running into people in the water. It's a big bay and plenty room for everyone. There is no beach though so if you intend to hang out, bring chairs or you'll be sitting on the lava rock, which isn't very comfortable.

Midwest
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7. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

I think the snorkeling in Puako is very good at the marine reserve across the street from the General store. The beach gets crowded in the afternoons but the water doesnt seem to. The vacation rentals in that area appear reasonably priced, or you might say budget.

Big Island, Hawaii
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8. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

Puako's just ok to me for snorkeling, I don't think it's as good as Waialea, which also has a proper beach, or many other snorkel spots up north, but it is a pretty good location for short drives to many spots and you can get in the water from many of the rentals. I find the vibe a little weird. It's a kind of uneasy mix of residents and vacationers. Quite a bit of petty crime according to my friends who live down there, and not a lot of aloha. I stayed down there once years ago with some friends and I actually kind of liked it, but it's not for everyone. There were lots of flies and mossies though.

Oklahoma City...
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9. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

We are spending 6 weeks this late August and September at the Magic Sands condo complex. It is a stones throw from your lanai to the ocean, there's a beach and snorkel spot within 20 feet of the parking lot and a sweet little pool and BBQ area we LOVE. The ocean breeze, without ac, is just right for us. That area, just south of Kona town, gives us easy access to everything we love to do...water sports, boat snorkeling trips, coffee farm tours, Place of Refuse, and on and on. At a cost of around $100/night, we consider it a bargain.

Be sure to check the reviews here on TA because each condo is individually owned and in varying degrees of repair, decor, and extras like water toys. We like the 2nd floor on the south end with a covered lanai. There are some units with ac, in fact one is still available for September I think. It's called Longboard Studio.

Oklahoma City...
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10. Re: Where to stay on west coast in September for snorkeling

Here are the reviews of Magic Sands. We are staying in the corner unit #201. We've stayed in several other units, but #203 was our favorite so far. It was not available this year.