It you have already discovered the fun of snorkeling, please ignore my naivety. I actually had been snorkeling once before in Maui, but it was nothing like the experience I had while snorkeling on the Big Island. It was so much fun. The water was thick with colorful, beautiful fish. In addition to fish, Green Sea Turtles hang out to munch sea weed right on the beach. Once we got good at recognizing the turtles, we saw them everywhere on the coast.
We started at the Kuhalu’u Beach, which happened to be within a mile of our Condo on Alii Drive. We snorkeled there three times. Because the snorkeling is so good, the waters did get crowded by mid day. It is so easy to enter the water on this beach that it only took a little effort to get the kids to put their head underwater for the first time. Because this beach has a breakwater that protects the area, it was also very safe.
Later in the trip we went snorkeling at Hapuna Beach. The beach is beautiful, but we didn’t find very many fish. It is possible we didn’t swim far enough around the rocks on the south end of the beach. When we drove to the next beach, Waialea, we not only found lots of fish, but some beautiful coral. We didn’t make it to the Honaunau Bay in time to try snorkeling there, but considering how many people were there right at sunset, it must have been good.
If you get tired of the heat in Kona, drive up highway 190 and take Kaloko Road and then drive up the Hualali Volcano to experience the lushness of the Ohi’a Cloud Forest.
As you drive up the mountain out of Kona, turn left on highway 190 north. Turn right on to Kaloko Road just past the 34 mile marker. The road dead ends at 5000 feet.
For a different view of Kona, take a right turn on highway 180 towards Holualoa. When the road peaks above the trees you will get a great view of the coastline .
Besides snorkeling, surfing, and shopping, there are many other things to do in Kailua Kona. A good guidebook will outline all of your options. We used Hawaii The Big Island Revealed, The Ultimate Guidebook by Wizard Productions. There are some cool activities we didn’t have time to try including taking a tour of a coffee or macadamia nut farm, riding a submarine under the sea, kayaking, and golfing.
Seeing new and different animals and plants is a very fun part of taking a trip to a very different place from home. We had fun finding Geckos everywhere – including our condo. The kids (and I admit I did too) enjoyed seeing how tropical fruits grow.
We stayed at the Country Club Villas condominiums while in Kona. It was very convenient to stay there during the Ironman, because even though it is on Alii, it is not in town. We had to drive to get anywhere but we were not affected by the traffic and crowds.
The Condo was everything that the property manager said it would be: the kitchen had basic supplies, everything worked, and the view of the golf course and ocean were lovely.
The condo had a closet full of beach supplies including snorkels, masks, boogie boards, and beach mats. Not every condo will have these supplies, but yours might, so don’t rush out and buy things you may not need.
We are not big shoppers, but did do some souvenir shopping on Alii drive in Kailua Kona. The ABC Stores on every block are packed with bargain tee shirts, shell necklaces, and beach towels.
If you need basics for your time on the Big Island, pick them up here in Kailua-Kona, as there are very few stores anywhere else on the entire west coast.
Kona Fsh: Cover Photo by Steve Jurvetson