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Questions? Comments? mumpsimus1@gmail.com

A favorite pastime in the village was to grab mask and flippers and go for some snorkeling.  I hadn’t snorkeled in a long time for a variety of reasons, but I asked Bill Partmann, who has done a lot of snorkeling on the island, and here's what he wrote:

Snorkeling at Kona Village

David: A brief introduction is in order.  I first vacationed on the Big Island and Kona Village Resort in 2002.  It was during that first trip that I became enthralled with the joys of snorkeling.  In the following nine years I have visited and snorkeled all the islands at most of their well known sites.  On the Big Island, I have been (on numerous occasions) to Captain Cook's Monument, two-step, Kahalu'u, Kapoho tidepools, Pawai, and I have wilderness snorkeled (where you have to backpack in), at Keauhou Landing, Halape, and Halape Iki.  While I don't consider myself an expert snorkeler, I am an enthusiast.

I consider the top five snorkel sites on the big island to be: Captain Cook Monument, Two-step, Kona Village, Kahalu’u, and Kapoho.  To me, Kona Village is certainly equivalent to and maybe better than either Kahalu’u or Kapoho, when I take into account the totality of the site: condition of the coral, water quality, solitude, and fish.

As for the resorts in North Kona or Kohala, none comes close to Kona Village for the quality of its snorkeling.  Furthermore, there is no other resort on the island that gives you the amenities--free mask and fins, plus very uncrowded conditions--that you'll find at the village.

KVR has four distinct zones of snorkeling..  The first area is the one that 90% of the guests experience.  This is the swim along the lava bench north from the beach shack to hale M2 (for the map, go here).  This area is where most guests do their snorkeling because it is protected, and close to the beach shack and the main

entry point.  The lava rock houses a myriad of fish and sea life.  The most typical are: yellow tang, butterfly fish, needle fish, filefish, trigger fish.  There's also some coral.  The water quality is good to fair.  Because it is located by the beach it is subject to some cloudiness from fine particulate matter.  Also there is freshwater lensing that you get because of large amounts of fresh water flowing into the bay.

The next area is from the beach shack south to the point.  This parallels the beach and the beach bench.  It is an area composed of coral and coral rubble.  Because this area is less protected during winter storms, the corals here are not as intact. I suspect this is why most people don't spend much time exploring here. However in my experience this is a neat place to snorkel.  The fish are much bigger than area one--the parrot fish are four to six pounds.  There are big Reef and Picasso triggerfish.

You're more likely to see an eel here.  Oh, and snorkeling to the freshwater spring just in front of the Shipwreck Bar is a bracing experience and one not to be missed: suddenly the water is much cooler! 

I should mention that there is a no-fish area between area one and two.  The area around the swimming platform has a sandy bottom which is not where the food is for most of these fish.  However two notable residents can be seen there.  The first is the jack known as the rainbow runner.  It can grow up to ten pounds.  The other is the bonefish which I've seen in excess of fifteen pounds.  They rarely get close, but when you see them, it's always a thrill.

Now we get to my favorite area, along the northern bench from hale M2 to the black sand beach at hale P1 (again, see map here).  This is the area that contains spectacular snorkeling.  Because it is farther from the beach, the sand pollution lessens as does the freshwater lensing.  This gives you fantastic water clarity.  In addition, the coral seems more protected, so you'll see large examples of every shape and color of coral.  The corals, of course, attract fish. 

I have documented at least ten types of butterfly fish, angel fish, large schools of tangs, pinktail trigger fish, humuhumu, (technically, humuhumunukunukuapua'a),  big parrot fish, puffers, schools of blue and black triggerfish, roi, wrasse of every imaginable color, and the occasional papio.  It's a very rich and healthy environ.  The water is a little rougher than the inner bay, but it is so rewarding it's worth it.

The last area is the outer bay.  If you were to swim into the outer bay, say 400 yards, toward the middle buoy, the water is between 40 and 80 feet deep.  Coral is everywhere, as are the fish.  There are two notable places here.

The first is the turtle cleaning station, where the famous Kona Village turtles hang motionless while a number of wrasse clean them.  The other feature is the shark grotto, where occasionally you can see whitetip reef sharks swimming about 50 feet below.  (Don't worry--they're night feeders and don't much like the taste of people anyway.)

                                                                                            Bill

Here’s another matter of interest: Straight down from the Shipwreck and 20 feet out in the ocean was a freshwater spring which was a reliable source of drinking water for the old Hawaiians. Snorkelers could tell when they were close because suddenly the water temperature dropped significantly.

I received this photo, courtesy of a wonderful guest who was here with her parents and brother.  Such nice folks!  A real pleasure to

visit with them.  Just after I went home, a monk seal made a very rare call on Kahuai Bay. She was able to snap this picture and was kind enough to send it to me.  Thanks, Kathryn.

The essence of this page was written by Bill Partmann, an avid snorkeler, and is included here even though it no longer can represent what the snorkeling would be like at Kona Village. There is debris on the floor of the bay from the tsunami, and conditions may have changed utterly. This page will remind us of what used to be...