We were back on the Kona Coast and ready for some beach and sun! We couldn’t wait to get out and explore more of the Kona Coast, but first we made a return trip to our favorite crepe café, Peaberry & Galette (see my review at Best Food on the Big Island). Caffeinated and pleasantly full, we drove 30 minutes north of Kailua-Kona to find Kiholo Bay, which is supposed to be THE place to see turtles. The turnoff wasn’t marked and we missed it the first time, but we used the satellite view on our GPS to find the tiny road off of Highway 19 that led to Kiholo Bay and found it the second time around between mile markers 82 and 83. We drove down the narrow gravel road in the middle of a vast lava field straight toward the ocean. In the past, this road was only accessible by 4WD or by foot, but now anyone can drive it. We saw goats climbing the rocks in the field on either side of us. We parked in the small gravel lot and made for the water. It was brilliantly blue and sparkled in the sun. As we looked up and down the coastline, we saw the little ins and outs that made up smaller bays within Kiholo Bay, their waters brightening to a light turquoise before they splashed against the black lava beach.
You’ll see more sea creatures than people at Kiholo Bay. To walk the length of the bay is about 2 miles, and we only saw seven people along the entire stretch, and we saw about the same number of turtles bobbing around in the shallow water. At the end of the bay, farthest from the parking area, there is a large shallow area where we saw more turtles than we have ever seen in one place! Garren and I hopped in and swam around for a bit and were each surrounded by 3 or 4 turtles at a time. It was turtle paradise! We had to be careful not to touch the turtles because they swam so close to us. (Remember, it is illegal to touch sea turtles in Hawaii). We didn’t see many fish and the bottom was mostly rocks and sand, so the snorkeling here is all about the turtles. My dad and Andrea snorkeled in some of the bays closer to the parking area, but they said they were too choppy to see anything. My mom is a big fan of humpback whales and she watched for them off the coast and was rewarded with a few fin slaps just outside the bay. We all saw a few red crabs sunning themselves on the hot lava rocks.
Accessibility Note: Walking along the beach at Kiholo Bay is much more pleasant if you have decent shoes. The tiny rocks tend to get stuck between your feet and your sandals and they are surprisingly sharp. I only had sandals, which was worse than going barefoot since they trapped the rocks, so I ditched my shoes and walked on the larger rocks closer to the water.
After we had our fill of snorkeling with the turtles, we turned back and walked south along the shore. The view was fantastic. The blues of the ocean were incredibly vibrant and the black shoreline contrasted the white waves as they crashed ashore. We all walked out onto an outcrop of rocks and sat and took in the view. Kiholo Bay is an incredibly beautiful place.
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