Big Island of Hawaii

Kona Snorkeling - Beat the Crowd to Kealakekua Bay

Badge of ExcellenceBig Island of Hawaii, USA
Kona Snorkeling Beat the Crowd to Kealakekua Bay
  • 5 hours (approx.)
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Kealakekua Bay is one of Hawaii's best marine sanctuaries, which means it is often crowded with visitors. This snorkeling tour lets you avoid the crowds by taking you out onto the bay in a Zodiac raft, which can reach the places bigger boats can't go. Once in the water, you can explore the marine life-filled world beneath the bay's crystal-clear water.
  • Snorkel boat tour to Kealakekua Bay, Big Island of Hawaii
  • Traveling by Zodiac means that you can reach places bigger boats can't go
  • Explore the underwater world, filled with tropical fish
  • Includes sandwiches, snacks and reef-safe sunscreen

What's Included

  • Snorkel masks, fins and flotation devices
  • Turkey sandwiches (vegan and vegetarian upon request)
  • Snack on chips, cookies, soft drinks and water
  • Reef Safe Sunscreen available in the office before the trip
  • Extra time to view resident marine mammals like dolphins and whales
  • We no longer offer single use plastic bottles, please bring a reusable water bottle
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Gratuities

Meeting and Pickup

Meeting point

  • Captain Zodiac
    74-425 Kealakehe Pkwy #16, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA

    Captain Zodiac is located at 74-425 Kealakehe Parkway, suite #16. We are in the Honokohau Marina and small boat harbor located approximately 5 miles south of the Kona Airport and approximately 2 miles north of the town of Kailua-Kona. Meet at our office in the Gentry's Kona Marina parking lot.

Start time

10:00 AM

End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

What To Expect

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Minimum age is 4 years
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Not recommended for participants with back or neck problems
  • We apologize ahead of time but due to the bouncy nature, pregnant individuals are not allowed
  • Not recommended for travelers with back problems
  • Not recommended for pregnant travelers
  • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
  • Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 112 travelers

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

Traveler Photos

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Featured review
Captain Chuck and Elliot were the perfect Hawaiian guides: they were laid back and fun; great sense of humor; gave us lots of information about culture, history and geography of the area. We highly recommend this snorkeling adventure.


178 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travelers.
Showing 1-10 of 178 reviews
What a blast! Book this trip!
Aleta_B, Apr 2024
This is my second time doing this trip with Captain Zodiac, and will not be the last! I love this trip. From check in to disembarking, everyone was friendly and welcoming. The boat ride alone is a total blast, add the fantastic snorkeling and knowledgeable crew and you have yourself a total winner!! At one point we were the only tour in the bay!!! It was serene.
Day I will treasure forever
Brandy_M, Feb 2024
Seeing spinner dolphins, whales, beautiful snorkeling at Captain Cook’s. Captain Chuck and crew was very knowledge about the marine life.
Great adventure
Julie_M, Sep 2023
We had such a great time on our adventure with Captain zodiac! Great history, animal knowledge, personal service - all with a small group! A great day of snorkeling as well!
Amy_B, Dec 2022
So much fun. Snorkeling was great but riding on the Zodiac was just as much fun! Great crew, no complaints!
Response from Host, Jan 2023
You're an adventurous person to love the Zodiac ride just as much as the underwater world of coral and fish! We appreciate your love for our style of boats! Hope your vacation in Hawaii was everything and more!
A must for your bucket list
Michelle_F, Oct 2022
This was an incredible adventure! Will and Rick gave us a look of the island that you wouldn’t see unless viewing it by boat. The snorkelling was so much fun!
Response from Host, Jan 2023
We do give you a very unique perspective our the island from the water!! So happy to hear you enjoyed the adventure. Mahalo
Best excursion by far!!!
Marilyn_G, Sep 2022
The Captain Chuck and Maya! The beauty of the shoreline. And swimming with the whale shark!! Truly Fabulous time!!
Response from Host, Jan 2023
We are glad our crew could help make it a fantastic day on the water! Mahalo for taking the time to tell us about your tour.
Awesome Snorkeling, Fantastic Guides
Angelina_M, Aug 2022
Erin and Maria were fantastic guides - we would definitely take another snorkel tour with them. Very knowledgeable about the wildlife. Showed us culturally significant lava formations and told history of island. Zodiac is bumpy - recommend sitting in the rear near the captain if you’d like to avoid the worst of the jerking around. Food / drinks provided was great; equipment for snorkeling was great. Definitely recommend!
Response from Host, Aug 2022
Mahalo, I'm sure they will love to here you enjoyed them! Good recommendation... always smoother towards the captain on our boat. Thanks for joining us on our snorkeling tour.
A Must Do Adventure
Victor_D, Aug 2022
We had an amazing time on the snorkel trip! The views of the coast line from the kodiak were incredible and the crew (Darren and Stefan) couldn’t have been nicer. The snorkel spot was absolutely perfect. Best thing we did on the Big Island. An added bonus was their sweet dog Roscoe who greeted us upon our arrival.
Response from Host, Aug 2022
Rosco didnt try to eat you or your hat or watch? He is such a sweet boy but still a puppy. We do enjoy having him as our greeter. The guys will love to hear this and we are happy you enjoyed usour snorkle while on your vacation
Smaller boat, less of a crowd
Dawn_S, Jul 2022
All around an awesome experience. In fact, I did it twice. If you love to snorkel, do the 5 hour. Two hours in the water!
Response from Host, Jul 2022
Thanks so much for joining us two times on your trip! Hope to see you again the next time you're in Kona! Mahalo, CZ
The captain makes the trip!
Amara_H, Mar 2022
Darren shared so much with us - the end of the world, Pele, how to search for and protect wildlife. We really enjoyed learning so much about the island.
We had a “swell” time
Margaret_H, Oct 2021
Captain Chuck and Elliot were the perfect Hawaiian guides: they were laid back and fun; great sense of humor; gave us lots of information about culture, history and geography of the area. We highly recommend this snorkeling adventure.
Response from Host, Oct 2021
Thanks so much for coming out and taking the time to leave us a review! I am so glad to hear you had a great time on the Beat the Crowd tour. Be sure to come back sometime!
Exceptional trip!
Abbey_H, Aug 2021
We had an exceptional experience with JC and Elliott! They showed us some amazing things, the snorkeling was great and we got to sit and watch a pod of whales!
Response from Host, Sep 2021
Snorkeling, whales, and Kealakekua Bay are always a good time! So glad to hear you enjoyed the trip and our wonderful crew.
Great trip, but Capt. Cook was a no-go
Peter_T, Aug 2021
CJ and Erin were great. Unfortunately, Captain Cook was blown out due to high surf. Very milky. They took us to another area that was much clearer. Honestly, there wasn’t much there, but they did what they could. My daughter and I are seasoned snorkelers, so we had pretty high expectations. Look, these things happen. We DID get to play around with a small pod of dolphins (in the zodiac) which was great.
Response from Host, Aug 2021
Unfortunately the swell direction did play a roll in the conditions in the bay, our captains tried to find the best visibility possible for the snorkel portion of all of our tours that day. We didn't know how the bay was going to look until we got there and then had to adjust rapidly on the fly. Thank you for understanding that these things do happen and they are very rare for our leeward side of the island. We do hope to get you out another time and show you how amazing the bay can be.
Best snorkeling with Captain Darren and Maya
Yvette_S, Aug 2021
Captain Darren and Maya were the best guides! Great trip-tons of shared knowledge, snorkeling with sharks and a plethora of unique sea creatures! Good lunch, snacks and drinks included and our family of eight all had a blast! It’s a full day trip and worth the money to be with experts of the ocean!
Response from Host, Aug 2021
Our team really tries to share the love and knowledge we have for the ocean and marine life with all our guests. We have very seasoned Captains and crew who volunteer or work with Cascadia Research Collective, on all marine mammals in Hawaii waters. We take pride in being able to give factual first hand information about the species we have here. So happy it is being noticed and appreciated on our snorkeling tours. Please come see us again as there are many animals we would love to share with you.
Great excursion!!
Nicole_M, Jul 2021
Great afternoon on the water with Cpt. Darren and Maya. Saw pods of small finned pilot whales. Lots of colorful fish snorkeling! Well worth the cost! Lots of history explained about caves and lava tubes.
Response from Host, Aug 2021
The pilot whales are always amazing to see! We are so glad you got to experience some of the incredible animals our coastline has to offer. Having the extra time on the Beat the Crowd allows for a little more exploration down to Kealakekua Bay to snorkel.
Elizabeth_D, Jul 2021
Sea life galore and beautiful coral await your visit to Captain Cook! The water visibility was incredible and there was SO much to see. The captains really made me feel comfortable and at ease while in the water (they are certified life guards), and they are a great resource about the sea creatures we encountered. The history they shared about the area really enriched the whole experience. This your is well worth the money and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Response from Host, Jul 2021
Mahalo for taking the time to give us a shoutout. We really do appreciate it and are very happy to hear you had a great time snorkeling Kealakekua Bay with us. Having highly qualified crew members as part of our team is very rewarding for our guests. Hope to see you again!!
Awesome Experience
Kim_M, Jul 2021
Cool crew and good times. They took great care of us and we learned a lot about the island in the process.
Response from Host, Jul 2021
We all love a good time! Mahalo for joining us for the Beat the Crowd snorkeling tour to Kealakekua Bay. Hope to see you again.
Rough ride—use your own sunscreen
Marguerite_J, Jul 2021
The description says bumpy ride and they aren’t. kidding. We were seated at the front for the ride out to the reef and it was brutal. Coming back we realized the back would be better and it was. I wish the captain had given this information in advance so we could have made a choice. My butt is bruised! We chose this option because our kids are prone to sea sickness so a larger boat wouldn’t be a good option for us. We didn’t feel seasick so that is a plus. The sunscreen the offer did not work for us. I tried the brand in the past and got burned. This was no different. I should have followed my instinct and used the reef friendly sunscreen I brought with me but the lady said I couldn’t. Other people didn’t listen and used their own anyways. We reapplied many times (at least four times during the 5 hours, meaning we were applying every hour liberally!) and still got burned pretty badly. Aside from the bruises and burns the tour was good. Snorkeling was good and lunch was good. Overall, I would not do this tour again. If I had to go again I would ride near the captain and use my own sunscreen.
Response from Host, Jul 2021
Sorry to heard you didn't enjoy the bumpy ride. The front is the bounciest part of the raft. Our usual introduction before you board the boat is bouncy and exciting in the front, calm and cautious in the back if your not sure what you want sit somewhere in the middle, which gets a few giggles. Hawaii's the first State to pass the sunscreen ban which means any one with permits to use Kealakekua bay has to follow the reef safe sunscreen laws. The Sun Bum Mineral line is Zinc and Titanium based sunscreen, which use to be the preferred sunscreen ingredients until chemical based sunscreens were introduced because they are cheaper to manufacture. The problem is the chemicals Oxybenzone and octinoxate. "Oxybenzone is really toxic to the juvenile form of corals, When it washes off your body and into the ocean, the chemicals can cause “bleaching, deformities, DNA damage, and death in coral." As protectors of our 'aina and steward of the land we have to protect the natural resources of Hawaii. If others were using their sunscreen it was probably reef safe as most of our crew can spot what kinds aren't without having to read labels. We hope you have healed from the sunburns and are enjoying your time back home.
A must activity for your Big Island adventure!
Jennifer_M, Jul 2021
This is our second time doing a Zodiac tour and loved it! So much fun being out on the ocean and our guides were amazing telling us all of the history and stories about the island. Highly recommend this for adults as well as children!
Response from Host, Jul 2021
We would love to be everyone's must do tour here in Hawaii. We really love what we do and we hope that it shows to all of our guests. Hawaii has many things to offer from land tours, to air tours, but you can't miss the water tours! Hope to see you again.
Great trip
Carole_D, Jul 2021
JC and Ari were great crew. Very knowledgeable and interesting stories. Stopped boat to watch a marlin “almost” get reeled in, exciting! Snorkel spot was perfect. Plenty of time. Good snacks.
Response from Host, Jul 2021
Watching a active marlin catch is exciting and rare!! Glad you didnt feel rushed on the Beat the Crowd snorkeling tour with a little over 2 hours of water time! Hope to have you out with us again!!
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