We returned to the Big Island of Hawaii for the 2nd time. We stayed mostly in the Kailua Kona area and spent a few days in Waikoloa Beach.
After 1 year I still love my underwater camera the Olympus TG-830.
Note: All pictures below are low res for obvious reasons.
Restaurants we enjoyed in Kailua Kona
- We ate at the Big Island Grill. They have great food at reasonable prices. Get there early for dinner (5pm or so) otherwise a line starts to form.
- Bongo Ben’s was fun. They also have really good food at reasonable prices. Get there about 45 mins prior to sunset so you can watch it across the street.
- Lava Java for breakfast. We’ve eaten here several times on different trips. They have the largest cinnamon rolls I’ve ever seen. They seem to have live entertainment most nights – usually 1-2 people playing guitar and singing mellow tunes.
Beaches and Snorkeling
I took several underwater videos on this trip and edited it to a 4 minute video. Here’s my best snorkeling videos from the Kailua-Kona area.
Kekaha Kai State Park (Manini’OWali Section, Kua Bay)
The picture above was the most painful picture I have ever taken. On my left is a 3-4 foot wave. I stood right where the wave hits. Thankfully I had a camera that takes several pictures a second as you hold the button down so I didn’t have to take it again.
This beach is located on Highway 19 north between mile marker 88 and 89. The entrance is right across from the Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
This beach has showers and a bathroom.
There’s no real snorkeling since the water was too murky. The murkiness is odd given the beautiful color above the water. There were a few people snorkeling when we were there but they all said the same thing – it was “too murky”. It’s a beautiful swimming, boogie boarding, laying around, relaxing beach.
Since they paved the road to the beach a few years ago the beach parking fills up by 9:30am, but you can park along the road leading down to the beach.
Apparently, there can be swells that can be dangerous. Even though the beach and water are beautiful, almost surreal, be careful. Here’s some more details about this beach from Trip Advisor.
Snorkeling off the Fair Wind II at Kealakekua Bay/Captain Cook Monument
Since the Fair Wind is a catamaran the ride was smooth. Some other boat operators go out in small, single hull boats which offer a louder, rougher ride. The Fair Wind also had 2 water slides for the kids.
Once we reached the bay we had about 2½ hours of snorkeling which was plenty of time.
The crew was very polite and helpful. They went around to each passenger and asked if they needed snorkel gear. If so, they actually got it for you.
Breakfast was good – danishes, juice, eggs, etc. just enough food before you dive in.
Lunch was really good – BBQ hamburgers, side dishes and drinks.
The snorkeling was great. Kealakekua Bay is a nature preserve so the water was very clear, almost pristine. There was an abundance of fish. I saw schools of Yellow Tang, Whiteline Surgeonfish, Yellowtail Goatfish. Below are a few photos of the bay.
After several years of snorkeling in Hawaii I finally got a decent picture of an Achilles Tang below. “So what, it’s just a fish!?”. We’ll these guys are very agile and lively so it’s difficult to get a decent picture of them. I dove repeatedly, chased this guy for about 10 mins and took about 20 pictures of him.
The Place of Refuge (Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park)
Wikipedia explains how Place of Refuge got its name.
We visited the Place of Refuge and walked through the park. We also snorkeled here 3 times since it was simply amazing.
As usual parking next to the beach is full by 9:30am or so. However, people park along the road and walk down.
I noticed there were 2 places to enter the water. The first place is where most people enter. It seems to be a natural formation with one step above water and another one just below. Although, the step just below water has sea urchins embedded in it.
On our final to the park visit I realized that there was another water entrance. It was a narrower “2 step” entrance and no sea urchins embedded in the second step so it was safer to enter and exit.
The 2nd entrance also made snorkeling in front of the 4 houses easier. I also found this to be the best snorkeling since it was clearer. Also, there were fewer people over there.
Snorkeling by the boat ramp can be a little murky but we saw tons of fish and small turtles in that area. It’s a great place for first time or young snorkelers since there is a gradual beach entrance. Also, the water isn’t very deep (3-4 feet deep).
Below are some of the pictures I took while snorkeling in this area.
Kahalu’u Beach Park
We visited Kahalu’u Beach Park a few times and snorkeled. It’s a good place to snorkel, easy access, relatively shallow water (10-15 feet). It’s also protected by an outer reef which can keep the water calm. There are also many different fish as well.
Below are some photos I took while snorkeling here.
Waikoloa Beach is a beautiful area is surrounded by rugged terrain. There are several great beaches in the area. There are also several great petroglyph’s to visit as well.
One down-side to Waikoloa Beach are the strong winds. Apparently Waikoloa means gentle breeze, however we only felt strong winds trying to knock us over.
I don’t have any more details from this trip that I haven’t already written about in my earlier post.