Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
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Overview

Swim with schools of colorful fish on this snorkeling tour of Kealakekua Bay, and splash in refreshing, crystal clear water off Kona’s southern coast. As you cruise the scenic, volcanic shoreline, keep an eye out for spinner dolphins that playfully leap from the air, and admire the sea caves and lava formations that jut out into the sea. There’s also the option to extend the trip with a visit to Honaunau Bay, and group sizes are capped at 14 people to ensure a personalized trip.
  • 3-, 4- or 5-hour snorkel cruise on the south Kona coast, Hawaii
  • Marvel at the incredible diversity of marine life in Kealakekua Bay
  • See the Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay, the Hawaii site where he first landed and later perished
  • Look for Hawaiian spinner dolphins, Pacific bottlenose dolphins, green sea turtles, pilot whales and migrating humpback whales
  • Check out the sea caves and lava tubes from your boat as it cruises along the Kona coast
  • Snorkel in gorgeous Honaunau Bay and explore a bonus third locale (if optional upgrades selected)
  • Small-group tour limited to 14 people ensures a personalized experience with your expert guide
This Big Island snorkeling tour begins at Keauhou Bay about 15 minutes south of Kona. After checking in you’ll be fitted with snorkeling gear and listen in on a safety briefing, before venturing out towards Kealakekua Bay in a rigid, inflatable hull raft. The waters here at this marine reserve are known for their exceptional clarity, and are sheltered enough for first-time snorkelers to feel comfortable entering the water. 

This is the spot where Captain Cook first landed on the Big Island of Hawaii — and ultimately met his untimely end in a skirmish with local Hawaiians. While a monument stands in honor of Cook and commemorates his time in the islands, the bay is best known today for its tropical fish and abundance of colorful coral.

While cruising between shore and Kealakekua Bay, scan the horizon for bottlenose dolphins that sometimes splash on the surface, or search for pods of spinner dolphins that leap and jump in the air. In winter, there’s a good chance you’ll spot humpback whales either breaching or spouting offshore, and it’s also possible to find pilot whales that live in these waters year-round.

Depending upon the snorkeling tour you choose, you’ll also visit Honaunau Bay and sea caves along the coastline, which can only be accessed by smaller rafts that are narrow and easy to maneuver. All tours include water, snacks and an informative captain and guide. Just just bring a hat, towel, swimsuit and a healthy sense of adventure. Details of different tour options are in the Itinerary.

Itinerary

Express Cruise (3 hours):
Spend your time snorkeling in beautiful Kealakekua Bay during this 3-hour tour, including sea cave exploration along the coast. Novice snorkelers can gain confidence in the water and get acquainted with the gear in the calm sheltered bay. Several types of flotation devices are available if needed and your guide is happy to help with any questions. This is a great tour for beginning snorkelers.

Deluxe Cruise (4 hours):
On this 4-hour tour, start with snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay as in the above tour, then head to Honaunau Bay. Sheltered from ocean swell, Honaunau Bay has calm water with excellent visibility and several excellent snorkeling areas. Spinner dolphins and green sea turtles also enjoy the tranquil waters, so you have a good chance of spotting some bigger marine creatures in the bay. Honaunau Bay sits under a sacred Hawaiian site called Pu’u Honua o Honaunau, or The Place of Refuge at Honaunau. Learn from your guide about the traditional role of The Place of Refuge and gain insight into the sacred laws and powerful chiefs of old Hawaii.

Expedition Cruise with Lunch (5 hours):
Upgrade to the Expedition Cruise for the longest option that allows you to visit several top snorkeling sites along the south Kona coast. Snorkel in Kealakekua Bay and Honaunau Bay as noted in the previous tours, then go to a bonus third spot for yet more underwater delights. Look for larger marine wildlife on the ocean and explore the caves and lava tubes of the rocky coastline as part of your 35-mile (56-km) round-trip snorkeling cruise. The 5-hour tour includes a deli lunch along with snacks and bottled water, and uses a boat that is equipped with a sun shade.
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