Snorkeling

Overview & Activity Comparison

Overview

Teaming with tropical fish, lively coral, diverse marine life including turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and whales, the clear, warm, and typically calm waters off the west side of the Big Island are an aquarium to be explored by snorkeling. While some good spots can be found right off the beach, many of the prime spots are only accessible by boat. A boat cruise combines excellent snorkeling spots with a memorable half day out on the water, including friendly and attentive crew and guides, water activities, and refreshments, as well as all the amenities for a comfortable and safe experience.
Guidebook Reviews

Big Island Revealed Guidebook:

Hawaii features a dazzling variety of fish, and the Kona side offers some of the best snorkeling in the state. The Big Island is a snorkeler's paradise.

The Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay is a favorite destination. Snorkeling near the monument is perhaps the best you will find anywhere in the state. If you've never snorkeled before, this is the place to start. Experienced snorkelers will be dazzled.

Lonely Planet Guidebook:

Coming to Hawaii and not snorkeling is like climbing the Eiffel Tower and closing your eyes -- the most bright and beautiful underwater city lies at your feet with magnificent coral reefs

Fodor's Guidebook:

A favorite pastime on the Big Island, snorkeling is perhaps one of the easiest and most enjoyable water activities for visitors

Activity Comparison

The below table outlines the key differences between our snorkeling activities. Please visit the individual pages for all the details and to book.
Activity 1
Off the Kohala Coast
Activity 2
Off the Kona Coast
Activity 3
Kayak Kealakekua
Activity 4
Private Boat Rental
Activity 5
Kayak-SUP Combo
Activity 6
Manta Rays at Night
Activity Provider Ocean Sports Body Glove Cruises Kona Boys Kona Boat Rentals Kona Boys Kona Honu Divers
Departure Location Waikoloa
(30-60 min from Kona)
Kailua Pier in downtown Kona
(35-45 min from Waikoloa)
Kealakekua Bay
(20 min from Kona, 50 min from Waikoloa)
Honokohau Harbor in
North Kona
(30 min from Waikoloa)
Kailua Bay in downtown Kona
(35 min from Waikoloa)
Honokohau Harbor in
North Kona
(30 min from Waikoloa)
Time of Day 10:30 am - 2 pm 8 am - 12:30 pm Morning or Afternoon Morning start - half or full day 8 am - 1 pm Afternoon and/or Night
Duration 3.5 hours 4.5 hours 5 or 3 hours 3, 4, or 6 hours 5 hours 3 or 5 hours
Pick-up Service Yes (Waikoloa) No No No No No
Snorkeling Stops 1-2
off Kohala Coast
1
Red Hill (less crowded than Kealakekua)
1
Kealakekua Bay
Unlimited (you choose), including Kealakekua Multiple
(not Kealakekua, but calm bay)
1 (night only) or 2 (afternoon at similar location)
Beginner Snorkelers Best Best Best On your own Best Not allowed
Boat Size & Type 50-65’ sailing catamaran 65’ power catamaran Kayak 19-23’ motor boat Kayak 46’ motor boat
Boat Amenities
  • Hose showers for rinsing
  • Stairs to water
  • Trampolines for sunbathing
  • Fixed showers for rinsing
  • Stairs to water
  • Hose showers for rinsing
  • Stairs to water
Maximum Guests
Often less onboard
40-75 105 12 6 12 24
Water slide & high dive No Yes No No No No
Restrooms onboard Yes Yes No No No Yes
Refreshments
  • Continental breakfast
  • Deli lunch
  • Complimentary bar
  • Continental breakfast
  • BBQ lunch
  • Cash bar
Deli lunch Bring your own Deli lunch
  • Snacks
  • Sandwiches
    (for afternoon)
  • Hot chocolate & tea
Included Amenities
All include snorkeling gear
  • Marine life briefing
  • Flotation devices
  • Guided tour of reef
  • Sea view boards
  • Tubes & flotation devices
  • Dolphin sighting guarantee
  • Fishing gear
  • Detailed Orientation
  • GPS system & detailed maps
  • Plenty of tips on where to go
  • Marine life briefing
  • Kayaking
  • Stand up paddle board mini-lesson
  • Wetsuit
  • Flotation device (mandatory)
  • Manta ray sighting guarantee
Additional Amenities
Available
at extra cost
None
  • Scuba
    (intro or certified)
None
  • Captain
  • Scuba gear / instructor
None Private guide
Minimum Age None None None None 30 lbs 8
Price Age 13+: $147
Age 6-12: $73.50
Age 5 & under: Free
Age 18+: $132
Age 6-17: $88
Age 5 & under: Free
Age 19+: $119 (afternoon), $169 (morning)
Age 18 & under: $99 (afternoon), $149 (morning)
$300 - $575
per rental
(up to 6-7 people)
Age 19+: $159
Age 18 & under: $139
Snorkelers
(age 8+):
$99 (night only), $115 (plus afternoon)
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