The Big Island of Hawaii has several terrific snorkel spots, including both coral reefs and rock outcroppings. The SoCal Family wanted to try a half-day sail and snorkel trip to somewhere special, somewhere unique and unforgettable – yet above all, child-friendly. Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides had the answer: The Captain Cook Monument snorkel site in Kealakekua Bay. This is definitely one of Hawaii’s best coral reefs for snorkeling.
Anyone been on day-long sail/snorkel trips on vacation? I sure have, and one aspect about them that I’ve noticed to be pretty consistent is this: After the snorkelers clamber back on the sailboat or catamaran, the captain cranks up the Jimmy Buffet and breaks out the rum. The second half of chartered sail and snorkel trips, in other words, nearly always seem to devolve into some sort of booze cruise. The Fair Wind II snorkel cruise to Kealakekua Bay, on the other hand, had many families with young children, and while there was some mixed drinks after the snorkel portion, the bottles were kept out of sight and needed to be requested. But first, of course, were the sail trip and snorkel.
My younger daughter hadn’t snorkeled in the “real” water before (just pools), and she hesitantly swam next to me the whole time. Our older kid, who’s more experienced, swam off and reported seeing “20 billion puffer fish.” …I question her judgment, but her enthusiasm and excitement were undeniable. The highlight, however, was when someone spotted a big moray eel; a large female whitemouth moray, to be precise! Now, she didn’t leave her bit of coral – probably her home – but she did put on quite a show.
The moray eel rared up a few feet, opening and closing her mouth. She looked all the world like a grumpy old lady yelling “get off my lawn!” Everyone enjoyed seeing the eel. The yellow tangs, convict tangs, parrot fish butterfly fish, trigger fish, big lazy groupers, and a very shy trumpet fish all made appearances. It was a GREAT snorkel trip at an A+ location. We saw so many varieties of tropical fish, it was truly astounding. The famous humuhumunukunukuapua’a even made several appearances (though my photos of them are, sadly, just of their tail ends. No pun intended).
The Captain Cook snorkel site in Kealakekua is a healthy reef, protected and cared for. It can only be accessed by boaters or kayakers, or by the intrepid hiker (no roads) and because it’s a marine sanctuary, it shall remain so for the foreseeable future. The Fair Wind company understands and respects the importance of coral reef preservation, and shows a video on the return trip (along with serving hot off the grill burgers and hot dogs). The video includes shots of animals we may have missed – no dolphins this day – and some light information about the dangers of water pollution in such a delicate environment. This was not polemic, though, and always presented in an entertaining, child-friendly way.
Before we left Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook Monument, lots of kids had great fun on the two giant water slides. One of these “kids,” as always, was my hubby. He sure was glad that the tourism board invited us to experience this snorkel trip. Fair Wind’s morning half-day snorkel trip goes from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM, and includes both breakfast and lunch. The ease of snorkeling, the 15-foot water slides and inner tubes, the food, snorkel instruction as needed and the video all add up to the best family-friendly snorkel trip on the Big Island, and a real highlight of a Hawaiian vacation. Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides is highly recommended for a terrific family vacation experience in Hawaii.