Hawaii 2018, part 3: Snorkeling Adventures

June 10th, 2018

Early in the trip, we tried out a couple snorkel places on Big Island, and on days 5 and 6 we did more – one of which was very memorable!

Day 5: morning and night snorkels

In the morning, my family and I headed to one of the most popular snorkel places on Big Island: Honaunau Bay aka Two Step. Not only does it have wonderful coral reefs and fish to look at, it’s also known to be a place where sea turtles and sometimes even dolphins hang out.

View of Two Step

Getting in and out of the water might be hard for beginners because it doesn’t have a beach to ease you in. You use two natural steps carved into the volcanic rock (hence the name “two step”) and time your entry and exit with the waves. Once you’re in, it’s an easy and clear swim!

Sadly, we didn’t see any dolphins, but it was still a great snorkel because there were lots of fish to look at and even a couple sea turtles. The reefs in this area are also more interesting than the other spots we checked out earlier in the trip.


For lunch, we went to Loko Wraps which combines Hawaiian and Texmex food together. I got a wrap/burrito with kalua pork. Very tasty!

And then we headed back to the Two Step area, except we didn’t get into the water. Instead we walked around Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, which was a relaxing way to see some Hawaiian history and nice views.

At night is the exciting part! We signed up for a night snorkel to see manta rays, which are gentle giants. They are filter feeders, so they don’t harm humans, but adult rays can reach 18-23 ft in wing span!

But first, story time! In the past, there was a hotel that shone light into the water at night, so that guests could see the waves and fish at night. It had the unintended side effect of attracting manta rays, who used the light to feed on plankton. Because of the light, they started showing up every day! Sadly, the hotel shut down and when the light went away, so did the manta rays. Fortunately, the Sheraton Kona (where we happened to be staying) was built in the same spot, continued the tradition, and the manta rays came back.

That is how boats are able to do night snorkels in that area so that people can view the manta rays up close. We signed up for one that boated us out there and supplied everything we needed, including wet suits. Well uh… that’s when I realized that it’s hard to get into a wet suit while pregnant. To fit my baby bump, I had to go up to a size XL before it could zip over my stomach. However, it then caused large openings in the sleeves and leg portion, which defeats the point of the wet suit! I had to get a half wet suit in size M and wear it like an open jacket over the other wet suit to close up the arm holes. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I looked as awkward as I felt.

No matter though because it was an amazing experience. The people running the tour set up a floating board with lights shining down into the water, and we all gathered around it with snorkel gear, grabbing the side, and floated face down. I expected to just be at the surface, looking down at manta rays swimming below.

I was not expecting them to get as close as they did, and it was truly a unique sight. To eat, they’d make vertical circles over and over, as if they were dancing in the water. In doing so, they come up so close to us that they sometimes rubbed against the board or even us. (Reminder: do not touch the sea life! It actually harms the mantas because it rubs off a protective layer on their skin. If they choose to touch you, then that’s fine, but don’t reach out for them!)

Suddenly seeing a giant manta ray in my face was not something I was expecting, and at one point, there were 5 of them swimming below us. I really wish I had bought or rented a GoPro to share this with you! Fortunately, there are videos on Youtube, so I’ll embed someone else’s video.

This is something you cannot do on every Hawaiian island, so if you’re on Big Island, look it up! I recommend it!

Day 6: off to Maui

Since we weren’t able to see dolphins at Two Step, we decided to try another place early in the morning before our flight to Maui. My brother, his wife, my husband, and I drove over to rent a kayak at Kealakekua Bay. We were aiming to snorkel over near the Captain Cook monument, which can only be reached via a steep hike or by kayaking across the bay. And well, dolphins were known to be in the bay in the morning.

No luck this time either on seeing dolphins! However, this is the first time I ever kayaked to a snorkel spot, so that was still a fun experience, especially since we saw beautiful views on the way there. (And yet again, I don’t have a waterproof camera to show you photos.)

Afterwards, we cleaned up at the hotel, checked out, and grabbed a quick lunch before flying over to Maui. The rest of the day was just getting checked in and relaxing at the hotel before getting a Hawaiian BBQ dinner at Joey’s Kitchen.

I was hoping to cover one more day in this entry, but I’ve realized it’s gotten quite long! I’ll stop here and continue our Maui adventures later!

5 Responses to “Hawaii 2018, part 3: Snorkeling Adventures”

  • Nancy says:

    It’s so cool that you got to see a ton of fishes when you went out snorkeling. It’s a bummer that you didn’t see any dolphins. Oh man, you make me want to book a trip out to the big island! I love the aloha vibes!

    Oh man, I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been when you had to switch to the wet suit. Hey, there should be a market for maternity wet suits!!

    YUM! The dinner looks delish! I love how they had rice with everything.

  • Amy says:

    Sounds like you had a great time snorkelling even if you didn’t get to see any dolphins. I’ve never been snorkelling before (I can’t actually swim) but it sounds amazing and I’d love getting to see lots of sea creatures up close, especially turtles!

    Loko Wraps sounds amazing. I love that they combine the two foods, that pork looks fantastic. I want to go to Hawaii just so I can try one now!

    Oh no! The wet suit issues sound so awkward. They definitely should make maternity wet suits, so you don’t have all the problems. At least you managed to sort it and see the manta rays! That sounds amazing!

  • Pauline says:

    I found it hard to imagine how to swim without the beach to support me, haha! The volcanic rock for support sounds interesting and something I’ve never heard of before… super cool! Thanks for sharing! I’ll keep note if I’m ever in Hawaii. :P

    That’s amazing! It’s a shame you didn’t have a GoPro to capture it but the video is truly remarkable.

    That meal from Joey’s Kitchen looks so good! Thanks for sharing your experience! Glad it was fun :D

  • Ashley says:

    Those dolphins just didn’t feel like playing it seems. haha Aw, you should have shown us a picture of you looking awkward and cute in your wet suit with the baby bump hehe *wink*
    Sounds like an awesome time though. I haven’t been to a beach in a long time and I have always wanted to see Hawaii cause my mom use to live there. Maybe someday. :)

  • Krystal says:

    Beautiful pictures. I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii!

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