Best Big Island Hawaii Hotels with Snorkeling

Most people traveling to the Big Island are looking to get in the water ~ whether for swimming, snorkeling, or even some night-swimming with manta rays!  But what are the “Best Big Island Hawaii Hotels with Snorkeling On-Site?”  The answer is: surprisingly few.  Very few hotels on the island actually have bay frontage, & the ones that do tend to be pricey.  But as for being located on a great reef with plenty of colorful fish & sea life, there’s ONE clear winner, that’s far & above the rest. 

Read on to find out which it is….

Mauna Lani, Best Big Island Hawaii Hotels with Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

There’s really only ONE hotel on the Big Island with amazing on-site snorkeling. Read on to find out which hotel this is… Photo by Five Star Alliance.

There is surprisingly just one hotel on the Big Island with outstanding snorkeling on-site ~ but a few others will put you near good snorkel spots, or have “okay” snorkeling in their own bays…

Renting a Car on the Big Island

If you’re coming to the Big Island & plan to do a lot of snorkeling, check out some of the island’s great coffee plantations, get in some good hikes, or even head up to the Mauna Kea observatory: renting a car is essential. The distances on the island are simply too far, & amazing snorkel locations like Two Step, & my favorite coffee shop in the world ~ The Coffee Shack, all require having a car.  You’ll definitely want to reserve in advance to get the best rates. 

Search for the best rental car prices here

Best Big Island Hotel with Snorkeling

  • Mauna Lani Resort ($820+/night) = The #1 BEST Hotel on the Big Island for Snorkeling On-Site.  What makes the Mauna Lani really the only hotel on the Big Island with great snorkeling? Because its beach actually has a REEF!! Mauna Lani’s “Home Reef” at Makaiwa Bay is excellent, & provides an amazing home for all kinds of fish & marine life.  The Mauna Lani Beach Club also sits right on Makaiwa Bay, & gives your party the opportunity to either drink & tan, or walk right out on the beach for amazing snorkeling.

At the Mauna Lani, you’re also just a short drive (or 1-mile walk) to “49 Black Sand Beach,” which sits in beautiful Hanokaope Bay. The water is clear here & offers great snorkeling.  You may even see sea turtles in the bay…

Mauna-Lani-Beach Club, Best Big Island Hawaii Hotels with Great Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

The Mauna Lani Beach Club sits right on Makaiwa Bay: a great spot to snorkel.

The Mauna Lani Beach Club has a wonderful bar & restaurant that’s open to the public; they also offer beach rentals, chairs, & stand-up paddle boards. In the calm bay, my brother (who’s a Big Island snorkel expert : ) has seen spotted eagle rays & even white-tipped sharks!  He says you can see pretty much everything here in this bay ~ although you’re more likely to see dolphins at Two Step.

Best Big Island Hotels with Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

Makaiwa Bay actually has a REEF: which sets it apart from every other hotel on this list.

Mauna-Lani, Best Big Island Hawaii Hotels for Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

The Mauna Lani has recently been renovated as a first-class eco-resort…& it’s my #1 hotel choice for snorkeling on the Big Island. Photo by Mauna Lani.

Mauna-Lani, Best Big Island Hawaii Hotels for Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

Stay in regular Guest Rooms, Suites, Residences, or Estates. Photo by Mauna Lani.

Sunset Mauna Lani, Best Big Island Hotels with Great Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

Sunset at Mauna Lani’s Beach Club. Photo by John Bertram.

As for great restaurants, my brother says Canoe House at Mauna Lani is one of his favorite EVER ~ even beating out Lava Lava Beach Club, another great Big Island eatery.

Map of Hotels with Snorkeling

Mauna Lani Resort

Four Seasons Hualalai

Fairmont Orchid

Courtyard Marriott King

Outrigger Keauhou

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Overview of Other Hotels with Snorkeling

  • Four Seasons Hualalai Resort ($944+/night) = #2 Choice for Great Snorkeling on the Big Island.  The Four Seasons has its own man-made saltwater snorkeling pool that contains many fish, as well as eagle rays. This is a great choice for beginner swimmers, or those who’d prefer to swim in a more protected area.  

But if you’d prefer to go the natural route, you can walk five-minutes north of the Four Seasons to Kahuway Bay (in front of Old Kona Village), which has pretty good snorkeling.  Or, walk 15-minutes south to Kukio Bay for good snorkeling, & the opportunity to swim with sea turtles.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Best Big Island Hotels for Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

The Four Seasons is one of the only hotels on the island with its own man-made snorkel lagoon ~ good for beginners, & those afraid of the ocean.

  • Fairmont Orchid ($930+/night) = #3 Choice for Great Snorkeling on the Big Island.  The Fairmont has its own small, but lovely white-sand beach (with no reef), that offers decent snorkeling. BUT ~ what sets the Fairmont apart is that it’s located right next to the Mauna Lani, which means you can walk or drive over to their beach for snorkeling, & make use of the Mauna Lani Beach Club for rentals, etc.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Best Big Island Hotels for Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

The lovely beach at the Fairmont Orchid. Snorkeling is okay here: but you can walk over to Mauna Lani’s Beach Club for amazing snorkeling.

  • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel ($999+/night) = Just “OK” Snorkeling ~ But One of the Most Beautiful Beaches on the Big Island.  The snorkeling at Mauna Kea may just be okay ~ but its beach is HANDS-DOWN one of the most gorgeous on the island. The way its turquoise waters are framed by large Hau trees with their orange blossoms is just sensational; a major WOW-factor, & highly Instagrammable.

What also makes Mauna Kea a good choice from a snorkeling standpoint, is that it’s just a short drive to two fantastic Big Island snorkel spots: 1) Hapuna State Beach, which offers great snorkeling on its right & left ends; & 2) Beach 69, one of my brother’s favorite snorkel spots on the island ~ which is protected by Marine Life Conservation, as it houses so much diversity of marine life.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Best Big Island Hotels for Snorkeling, Girl Who Travels the World

It doesn’t get much prettier….at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Snorkeling here is just okay ~ but you’re close to Beach 69 & Hapuna Bay, two of the island’s best snorkel spots. Photo by John Bertram.

Best Big Island Hotels with Snorkeling

I understand that many of these hotels are out-of-reach price-wise for a lot of people.  Luckily, there are a few budget hotel options for Big Island snorkeling ~ which require just a short walk to reach good snorkeling spots. 

I’ll list those in a different post within the next few weeks….

xoxo Noelia

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