Honaunau Bay, locally known as Two-Step Beach, is one of the Big Island’s best snorkeling spots. The shallow, calm water makes it a perfect spot for kids and beginner snorkelers, and free divers favor the bay’s deeper areas. The sandy bay’s bright tropical fish and occasional sea turtle or dolphin sightings make it well worth braving the crowds.
Locals and travelers alike come to Two-Step Beach (named for the way swimmers enter the water: first by stepping into the shallow water onto flat rocks and then pushing off to swim) for calm swimming and world-class snorkeling. It’s a top spot for Big Island snorkeling tours and is set right next to Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. Many visitors stop at both sights for a half-day of exploring Hawaii’s history and underwater world.
Things to Know Before You Go
- You can enter the water from the boat ramp to avoid slipping on the wet rocks.
- Bring your own snorkel gear and snacks.
- There are no showers, changing rooms, or toilets at the bay, but you can find these facilities at the nearby national historical park, where you can also park your car.
- Be sure to always keep a safe distance from marine life while observing them, and never disturb them in the wild.
How to Get There
Honaunau Bay is a 45-minute drive from downtown Kailua-Kona. Take Highway 11 south to Highway 160 near mile marker 106, continue about 5 miles (8 kilometers) to the Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park entrance, and then turn right onto a narrow 1-lane road. About 100 yards past the boat ramp at Keone‘ele Cove is a small parking area. Parking is also available at the neighboring national park for a small fee.
When to Get There
Arrive early in the morning to snag a parking spot along the beach road or in the Honaunau Bay parking area, and a sandy spot for your towel. Winter months are often less crowded. The Big Island enjoys warm, tropical weather year-round, and dolphins can be spotted all year as well.
Visiting Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau
Located right next to Honaunau Bay, Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park offers paid parking and facilities for swimmers and snorkelers. The 180-acre (73-hectare) park doesn’t offer water access, but it does have a storied past as a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiians. It was also a royal grounds and remains a powerful site today, where visitors can grab a map and take self-guided tours past wooden sculptures of Hawaiian deities and a sacred temple.