Northeast of Kona and north of Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, the snorkeling at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area in Hapuna Bay is well known for its scenic shallow and calm waters. When snorkeling at Hapuna Bay, you can expect to spot a variety of marine life, including butterfly fish, goat fish, tang, parrotfish and sea turtles.
Keep in mind that Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is known for dangerous rip currents, especially when the waves are over 3 feet high.
The Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is located on Queen Kaahumanu Highway (SR19) about 2.3 miles south of Kawaihae. To reach the snorkeling on the Big Island by air, you will need to fly into either Kona International Airport (KOA) on the south side of the Big Island and Hilo International Airport (ITO) on the northeast side of the Big Island. From either airport, the best bet is to rent a car since the dive sites are pretty far off the main roads. The best Big Islands snorkeling dive sites are spread around the island. The conditions at each dive site vary throughout the year depending upon winds and currents. Since many of the Big Island snorkeling destinations are open water and unprotected, make sure to check the current surf reports before heading to any of these dive sites. Luckily, there are excellent up-to-date surf reports that can provide guidance on these adverse conditions. With the usually rolling surf, it is strongly discouraged to use open-tube snorkels which are common at snorkel rental locations -- only use snorkels with a dry-top splash-guard and a sump purge-valve in the mouth piece.
Overall, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is the 3rd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 7 snorkeling dives in Big Island.