The marine life of the Hawaiian islands is amazing. Reef fish, monk seals, dolphins, sharks, turtles, corals, manta rays, even whales sometimes you can see! But you came here because of the turtles, right? Since the life under water is so incredible (also near-shore), snorkeling is simply a must for travelers.
In this post I will share 3 locations where you can see and snorkel with turtles on Big Island.
Honaunau Bay (Two-Step)
Honaunau Bay is an absolute must. You should park your car at the Honaunau Bay parking lot for a fee of 5 USD and walk around the “Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park” before snorkeling. You can learn a lot about flora and fauna and about the historic roots of Hawaii. After you gained knowledge on topics about the place you travel through, you can walk from the car park to the right and immediately see Pae’a (“Two-Step”) which is usually crowded, so you cannot miss it.
The natural steps of “Two-Step” make it easy to get into the water. As explore-the-big-island.com states “there is plenty to see under the water, with a beautiful coral reef that is full of tropical fish. The bay is usually calm with great visibility as it is well protected from the swells of the open ocean.” But please watch out! There are not only beautiful colored fishes and sea turtles, also sea urchins live in this area. And stepping on one causes pain.
Some locals told us that in this area you may spot spinner dolphins too. To see these guys you have to get up really early in the morning (5/6 a.m.). We were too late and it was overcrowded, so the dolphins were already gone.
Punalu’u Beach (Black Sand Beach)
Punaluʻu Beach (also called Black Sand Beach) is a beach between Pāhala and Nāʻālehu on the Big Island of the U.S. state of Hawaii. The beach has black sand made of basalt and created by lava flowing into the ocean which explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools. This volcanic activity is in the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Punaluʻu is frequented by endangered hawksbill and green turtles, which can often be seen basking on the black sand. (Source: wikipedia)
Carlsmith Beach Park
Carlsmith Beach Park is a great beach in the Hilo area. This side of the Big Island is mainly made up of lava rocks, so there are also lava rocks at this beach. Although there are lava rocks, Carlsmith Beach Park has a sandy ocean bottom.
This place is great for swimming and snorkeling because the near-shore waters are protected by a reef. And the big plus: marine life is upclose! Reef fish, small octopus and sea turtles can be seen here. Sea turtles are really frequent guests and also do not mind snorkelers. They even swim to them instead of away from them. This behaviour leads to funny scenes sometimes (watch the video).
Do you know other spots for snorkeling with turtles on Big Island? Share it with us!