Monday, May 6, 2019

Snorkeling the Reefs of Kona, Hawaii

We went snorkeling four times on the Big Island with rented gear (masks, snorkels, and fins from Jacks Diving Locker in Kona, and for $1 extra, Srini and I got prescription masks). I've snorkeled once before, more than 20 years ago. The rest of our group was a mix of very experienced and never been before.

Our maiden snorkel was at Kahalu'u Beach Park, a 5 minute drive from our VRBO, and just off Ali'i Drive in Kona. The afternoon was a bit breezy so getting in and out across the reef was a little rough (literally, as I got a few cuts), but the water was warm and many beautiful fish swimming among the shallow reef. Sadly, most of the corals are dead as a result of bleaching caused by a warming climate. This is a pattern throughout the world's coral reefs.

The Kahalu'u Beach Park has parking, bathrooms, and freshwater outdoor showers to rinse off saltwater and sand. This handy sign is posted at entrance to the beach, showcasing many of the most common species to see in the reef here. This beach is so accessible that we returned for a second afternoon of snorkeling.

The second place we snorkeled was in Honaunau Bay, at a place called Two Step, named for a set of rocks that allows easy of entry to the reef. This site is about 20 minutes south of Kona. It is very popular, despite the limited parking and not so nice portable toilets. But the reef is terrific for snorkeling.

This is a popular spot, although we arrived early and had a splendid snorkel. Here too, the diversity of fish was good, but there were no large fish and the quantity of fish seemed low. We saw a few birds--wandering tattler (a shorebird) and black-crowned night herons.

A black-crowned night heron stalks fish in a tide pool at Two Step.

Snorkeling is addictive in such warm, beautiful water. Next time we will buy our own snorkeling gear so that we can snorkel anytime we want. We highly recommend Jack's Diving Locker for renting snorkeling and scuba equipment, going on trips with them, and buying gear.

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