How Big Is the Island of Oahu? (Size Comparisons with States & Cities)

Oahu, the vibrant and widely visited Hawaiian island, boasts the distinction of being home to the state capital, Honolulu.

However, the island’s actual size often leaves people wondering about its dimensions, as its remote location makes it challenging to gauge.

Understanding the scale of Oahu is crucial in order to grasp its geography and plan your island explorations more effectively.

To provide you with a comprehensive perspective, I will delve into the island’s dimensions and offer meaningful comparisons to enhance your understanding of its size.

How big is the island of Oahu?

The island of Oahu is approximately 597 square miles (1,545 square kilometers) in size, including small associated islands such as Ford Island plus those in Kāneʻohe Bay and off the eastern (windward) coast, making it the 20th-largest island in the United States.

As far as length and width goes, Oahu is 44 miles (71 km) long and 30 miles (48 km) wide and its shoreline is 227 miles (365 km) long. In other words, it’s about the length of the Panama Canal.

Oahu Hawaii

How does Oahu measure up to other Hawaiian Islands?

In terms of how Oahu stacks up to the other Hawaiian islands, it is the third largest Hawaiian island, following the Big Island (Hawaii) and Maui.

Even though some believe Kauai to be one of the much smaller Hawaiian islands, Kauai and Oahu are actually very similar in size in terms of land area. Kauai is 552 square miles, which means that Oahu is only about 8% larger than Kauai.

But the Big Island is much larger than Oahu, coming in at 4,028 square miles. This means that the Big Island is about 6.7 times larger than Oahu.

The Big Island is also much taller than Oahu. The highest point on the Big Island is Mauna Kea, which is 13,803 feet tall. The highest point on Oahu is Ka’ala, which is 1,023 feet tall.

In terms of population, Oahu blows the other islands out of the water. The Big Island has about 190,000 people, while Oahu has about 980,000 people. This means that Oahu is about 5 times more populous than the Big Island. On the other hand, Kauai has a population of approximately 73,000 people, making Oahu roughly 13 times more populous than Kauai.

This much higher population is relevant to your travels around Oahu because in some places it can mean dealing with a lot more traffic both on the road and when trying to get around on foot, waiting in lines, etc.

Generally, if you want to get away from the throngs of tourists and urbanization, you don’t go to Oahu, or at least not Honolulu.

The big Island

How does Oahu measure up to other US states?

If you’re curious to compare Oahu with other states, here are some intriguing details. Oahu spans approximately half the size of Rhode Island, which covers 1,214 square miles.

In contrast, Texas encompasses a vast area of 268,596 square miles, making it roughly 450 times larger than Oahu.

But now let’s take a look at the size comparison of Oahu and different regions and cities of the US, starting off with another tropical area of the US: the sunny Florida Keys

The Florida Keys, while a completely different shape (a string of islands), are about 137 square miles, meaning that the Florida Keys are about 4.2 times smaller than Oahu, although they stretch over 150 miles farther!

What about lakes in the US?

Well, Oahu is much smaller than the biggest lake in the USA, Lake Superior, as Lake Superior is 31,700 square miles. This means that Lake Superior is about 53 times larger than Oahu in terms of land area!

One lake in the USA that is approximately 597 square miles in size is Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain, which is about 630 square miles. So you could theoretically fit Oahu inside the body of water just north of New Orleans.

What about regions?

Oahu is almost the exact size of Cape Cod Bay (604 square miles) meaning that Oahu could snugly fit inside of the hook-shaped peninsula.

And as for cities?

New York City, is about 304 square miles which means that Oahu is roughly twice the size of New York City. Houston, Texas, has a land area of 665 square miles (some say closer to 600), making it a very close fit for the island of Oahu.

The biggest county in the US, Los Angeles County, is about 4,058 square miles putting Los Angeles County about 6.8 times larger than Oahu in terms of land area.

Oahu seen from plane

How long does it take to drive around Oahu?

Contrary to what many think, you cannot drive around the entire island of Oahu because there is no road that completely encircles the island.

Instead, you can only drive along a portion of the island. Typically, when people talk about driving around the island they mean doing the “Eastern Loop” that runs along the stunning Kamehameha Highway (Route 83).

They then come down the center of the island because there is a small peninsula called Kaena Point that juts out into the Pacific Ocean on the northerwest shore which breaks up the continuity of an encircling highway route.

If you start in Waikiki, you can drive the ~110-mile loop around the eastern half of the island in about 3 hours and 30 minutes without stopping much, as shown by the map below.

Oahu loop map route

If you wanted to hit up the northern coast and western side of the island it would take about 5 to 6 hours, depending on traffic. Basically, you would be spending the entire day just driving around the island and you’d have to do some backtracking on the west side.

Oahu loop map route

The time estimations above assume that you make very few stops along the way.

The thing is, there are so many interesting sites to see along these highways!

From the beautiful landscapes of Kualoa Ranch to Pearl Harbor, and all of the beaches and waterfalls in between, you’ll likely want to stop a lot along the way.

So if you do plan on driving around the island of Oahu, I’d just go ahead and plan for that to be an all day event so that you can really enjoy some of the sites and make plenty of worthwhile stops along the way.

Final word

I hope this article has provided you with a better understanding of the size of Oahu.

Comparing it to familiar areas can indeed help in visualizing the island and anticipating what it will be like to navigate and explore. Having a sense of scale can also contribute to a more informed and enjoyable experience as you move around the captivating island of Oahu.

Hilton DoubleTree Hilo Review (Grand Naniloa, Big Island Hawaii)

The Hilton DoubleTree Hilo (Grand Naniloa) is one of the premier national chain hotels located on the eastern side of the Big Island. It has a lot going for it in terms of great views of the water and a good location close by to other tourist hotspots.

But would it be worth it for you to stay at this hotel?

Below, I’ll give you a comprehensive review of the property so that you can know exactly what to expect before you book.

DoubleTree Hilo Location

The DoubleTree Hilo is ideally located in Hilo, a picturesque city nestled on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hilo offers a distinct vibe compared to Kona on the west side, as it boasts a wetter and lusher landscape. In addition, Hilo is less touristy and provides a more authentic and local experience, for better and for worse.

You’ll find some notable nearby attractions like the amazing banyan trees, Liliʻuokalani Gardens, and nearby snorkeling hotspots like the black sand beach at Richardson Ocean Park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also only about 40 minutes away and the summit of Mauna Kea is only about 1 hour and 15 minutes away. So it’s a great launching point for exploring this side of the island.

Black sand beach with palm trees

The hotel property itself is located directly on the black lava rock coast although it is protected by Hilo Bay so it’s not directly hit by ocean waves which could be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes.

The good thing is that because the waters are protected they are calmer and that makes the area along the coast a decent snorkeling spot in addition to things like stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. There’s also easy access into the water and you can rent your snorkeling gear from the hotel.

If you don’t want to get in the water, you can still find ways to relax nearby with lounge chairs and an interesting paved walkway that runs along the property.

Two lounge chairs overlooking the ocean at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Narrow walking bridge overlooking ocean at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Pathway leading to ocean at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

Some of the scenery along the coast is pretty interesting with beautiful lava rock outcroppings and vegetation growing out of it. It’s definitely worth at least checking out for a little while.

Lava rock outcropping at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

I will say that there were some people who were clearly not hotel guests hanging out around these areas. We didn’t have any issues with anybody but we were approached by a couple of somewhat suspect people who were prodding into details of our stay which was a little bit odd and I kept my guard up.

The hotel premises

The hotel does boast a pretty beautiful lobby. It’s not particularly large or equipped but it’s an open-air design and there is a beautiful hula dancer statue found in the lobby with a nice ocean view in the background. It’s very well done.

Hula dancer statue in lobby at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

The premises of the hotel are also well-kept.

There is an open lawn between the property and the coast which I believe is where they put on some events such as luaus.

Lawn at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

With under 400 rooms, this also is not a very big hotel relative to Hawaiian resorts which is a very good thing if you like to easily get in and out of a property. If you have a vehicle, you can also take advantage of free parking which is really nice.

Related: Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa Review (Big Island) 

Facade of the Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

Checking at the DoubleTree Hilo 

Check in at the DoubleTree Hilo wasn’t quite as smooth as I would have preferred. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived and we watched as several other guests were able to check in while we were forced to wait.

That wasn’t too terrible and is understandable, but what was a bit frustrating is that the agent assured us they would send a text message when our room was ready, which they never did. Consequently, a few hours later, we arrived only to discover that our room had been ready for some time.

One more thing that is a little annoying is that the front desk agent did not go into any detail about the dining credit we were eligible for via Diamond status. Because I know Hilton well, I knew we were entitled to a dining credit but plenty of people out there are not so familiar with the policy, especially because it is relatively new.

Someone like that could easily miss out on a good amount of savings so I think the front desk should be obligated to mention the credit when you check in.

Related: The Hilton Doubletree Cookie: The Ultimate Sweet Guide

DoubleTree Hilo oceanfront junior suite

The oceanfront junior suite was a really spacious junior suite and from what I can tell it’s the top room offered by the hotel, at least in terms of balcony views.

Oceanfront junior suite living room at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

What truly makes these rooms special is undoubtedly the breathtaking corner view and the expansive wraparound balcony. If you have a fondness for being close to the water, you’ll absolutely adore these rooms, with the serene emerald-hued waters shimmering below.

Oceanfront junior suite balcony overlooking ocean at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite balcony overlooking ocean at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

From the living area, you’ll have a nice corner view of the bay along with a view of the resort as the pool area is directly beneath you. You can get some nice breezes that sweep over the bay making it really comfortable to sit out on the balcony.

Oceanfront junior suite balcony overlooking ocean at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

There’s also a lot of space in the bed area, which comes equipped with a nightstand on either side along with power outlets and USB ports.

Oceanfront junior suite bedroom at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

Just next to the bed is a balcony that has some great ocean views but it also offers more privacy than the wraparound balcony.

Oceanfront junior suite balcony overlooking ocean at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

It’s also a bit quieter since you don’t get all of the noise directly from the pool area, making it a perfect place to relax around sunset and perhaps enjoy a meal.

Man sitting on balcony at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

Between the bed area and the living area, there is a nice workstation complete with the phone, lamp, and some branded stationary. You’ll have outlets on the side of the desk to keep things charged.

Oceanfront junior suite workstation at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite workstation at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

With the curtains open, you have a nice ocean view that you can enjoy while working. Definitely my type of workstation.

Oceanfront junior suite workstation and kitchenette at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

The kitchenette comes equipped with a mini fridge, sink area, microwave, and range. It also came with plenty of cups, glasses, and plates and bowls, along with cutlery. One unique feature was the additional TV screen above the sink.

Oceanfront junior suite kitchenette at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite kitchenette at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite kitchenette at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite kitchenette at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite kitchenette at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite kitchenette at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

The bathroom was accessible with a pretty spacious shower with railing and a sliding curtain but beware: the sliding door to get into the bathroom can be difficult to work with.

Oceanfront junior suite bathroom at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

The toilet had some of the same accessible features.

Oceanfront junior suite bathroom at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

And I also believe the sink was at a lower level.

Oceanfront junior suite bathroom at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo
Oceanfront junior suite bathroom at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

I don’t necessarily mind getting put in an accessible room but there are two things I’d say about it.

For one, usually a hotel will ask you if you are comfortable with that type of room before they assign it to you because it can make people uncomfortable to take a room like that.

Second, I was kind of surprised that they put us in an accessible room considering that it took extra time for us to get checked in. I typically only get put in these rooms when I want early check-in so something just didn’t feel quite right.

Related: Is It Wrong to Book ADA (Accessible) Hotel Rooms (If You Don’t Need Them)?

In the closet, we had a hotel safe and extra towels, and I believe the shelves were extra low in the closet for accessibility.

Oceanfront junior suite linens at Hilton DoubleTree Hilo

DoubleTree Hilo pool area

The pool, which is heated, sits right on the coast and is definitely a smaller hotel pool, although it has great views. There are some lounging options around the pool but it’s a pretty compact area and stayed pretty busy with lots of kids.

Hilton DoubleTree Hilo pool area
Hilton DoubleTree Hilo pool area

DoubleTree Hilo breakfast

For breakfast, you have two options. The first is a continental style breakfast which is located in the hotel lobby. It’s basically served up in the bar area and has limited options.

Hilton DoubleTree Hilo hotel lobby and bar

For the second option, you can head to the Hula Hulas restaurant which is what we did.

Hilton DoubleTree Hilo restaurant

Prices at the Hula Hulas restaurant were pretty high but with the dining credit, they were able to be knocked down to much more reasonable levels. And the good thing is the quality of the breakfast food was very high and I really enjoyed my meals down there.

Hilton DoubleTree Hilo restaurant breakfast

We considered eating lunch here as well although some of the high prices for basic items like burgers were a turn off.

DoubleTree Hilo Fitness center

As far as the fitness center goes, it’s a pretty well equipped gym with the cardio machines and free weights you would expect to find at a hotel this size.

Hilton DoubleTree Hilo fitness center
Hilton DoubleTree Hilo fitness center

One thing I really like about it is that it features large windows that open up too nice views of the property. There’s nothing more disappointing than a hotel that fails to capitalize on its scenic location in its architectural design!

Hilton DoubleTree Hilo fitness center

Final word

Overall, I mostly enjoyed this hotel stay.

The ocean views were fantastic and it’s hard to beat having an expansive wraparound balcony to relax on when visiting Hawaii. At the same time, the service did fall a little bit short with some of the details surrounding check in and getting situated in our room.

Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa Review (Big Island) [2023]

After staying at five different hotels on our last trip to Hawaii, I realized that none of our hotels were located right on the coast.

So wanting to experience what it would be like to enjoy magnificent ocean views while in Hawaii, we made sure to find a hotel situated right on the coast this time and the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa fit that bill.

Below, I’ll take you through our experience staying at the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa, including what it was like staying in one of the top suites at the property. I’ll cover the food, lounge, facilities, and of course, the manta viewing.

Location: Keauhou Bay (Kona Coast)

The Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa sits perched upon the rugged lava rock coast near Keauhou Bay, the historic birthplace of Kamehameha III.

The surrounding area definitely has a “vacation country” feel as the property is set among a large stretch of resorts, vacation rentals, and country clubs, interspersed with barren lava fields.

Found about 15 minutes south of Kailua-Kona, you’ll need to drive to get to nearby stores but there is the Holoholo Market located on site for your convenience where you can find all sorts of snacks, souvenirs, and other necessities.

Also, on Wednesdays and Fridays you can attend the Ho’oulu Community Farmers Market & Artisans Fair, which takes place right in front of the property’s parking areas.

Something that makes this hotel’s location special is its connection to manta rays. The waters just outside of the resort are home to “Manta Village,” one of the premier places to view manta rays. Much more on that later!



Our room wasn’t quite ready whenever we arrived which wasn’t a major problem.

For one, it’s not uncommon for large suites like this to take a little extra time to get ready especially at a property that offers the option for guaranteed late check out (which we took advantage of).

But we also had an extremely personable check-in agent that really made us feel welcomed. She went through all of the different features of the hotel and as soon as our room was ready she came over and notified us.

It was a great start to the stay and the superb treatment by the staff continued on through the duration of our stay.

In fact, I had a few exchanges with housekeeping and they were some of the most friendly and proactive housekeeping crew I ever interacted with.

Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa front desk

The lobby made an immediate impression on me. Large floor to ceiling windows open up wide allowing the seabreeze to flow right through the lobby while giving you sweeping views.

We had just flown in on a connecting flight from Honolulu that gave us some trouble so it was nice to finally be able to relax with such a beautiful view.

Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa lobby
Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa lobby

The Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

We booked the 900 square foot Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite, which often goes for around $799 a night for a pre-paid reservation. You can save $400+ bucks by pre-paying which makes this a much more attractive deal.

When you factor in the lounge access (free breakfast and evening drinks/food) and free valet, it’s actually pretty solid value in my opinion.

These are the biggest rooms available at the property and they only have a few open each night.

Near the entrance of the room, you’ll find a large half bath. It’s directly across from the large balcony so if you have people over out on the balcony, it’s very conveniently located.

Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa bathroom

You have a large living area with plenty of seating options and great ocean views. There’s a table for four along with a wet bar where you will find a small sink, microwave, coffee maker, and mini fridge.

Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa The Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite living area
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

The main sofa also functions as a sofa bed which means you can sleep up to four in this room.

One thing you will probably notice at the resort is that it does have a dated feel. I knew this going into this stay and so I just focused more on the major highlights of the property like the views and the great service.

But something you’ll be happy to hear is that they recently began renovations and so eventually the property is going to be completely overhauled. So it won’t be dated for long!

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

We had a large 55 inch TV in the living area that came with a nice welcome message from Mario Lopez.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

The actual bedroom is super spacious and we had some good sleep in the bed which we found to be very comfortable. The temperature was great and easy to control.

If you open up the balcony door in the bedroom, it will cut off the AC but opening the door on the other side does not.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

There’s a nightstand with a lamp on either side of the bed and you’ll have plenty of easily accessible outlets.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

In the corner of the room you’ll have a workstation.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

Next to the workstation, there’s a dresser with another TV. There is a second mini fridge in this dresser which is easy to miss!

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

There’s a little walk-in area on the side of the room where you will find the bathroom, the closet, and also some extra space for a dressing area.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite

The bathroom is pretty spacious although it only has one sink.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite bathroom
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite bathroom

The toilet and bath tub/shower are located in the same space and it’s definitely one of the more interesting bath designs that I’ve seen.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite bathroom

In the closet, you have multiple hotel safes along with robes.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite safe
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite robes

Now onto the room balconies!

This room has more square feet in the balconies than I think I’ve ever seen in a hotel room.

First, there is the large balcony that you can access from your bedroom or from the living area. On the balcony there will be a small table with a couple of chairs so you can enjoy some drinks or a meal while checking out the view.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony

From this side, you have a good view of the main pool area and the beautiful lava rock coast.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony view

There’s something just so captivating about watching and listening to waves crash into lava rock cliffs. I definitely did not take this view for granted!

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony view
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony view

Then there is the main balcony which has a sliding door that opens up from the entryway of your hotel room. The balcony is gigantic and it comes with a few different types of seating options and umbrellas.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony
Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony

From this balcony, you can look out to the bay and also to the manta ray viewing station.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony view

While you do have some great ocean views on both balconies, the biggest thing that stands out with these rooms is the manta ray viewing that’s possible to do right from your own balcony.

A little bit before sun set, you’ll start to notice boats of all sizes coming in to the area and setting up for viewing.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony view

They will place some lights in the water to attract plankton which will then attract the manta rays.

We actually did a scuba dive with the mantas the next night but they took us to a different location, closer to the airport. That entire experience was epic to say the least and you can read about it here.

Anyway, from the balcony, your best bet is to have a pair of binoculars to help you zoom in on the action.

When the manta rays appear you can usually hear the snorkelers shouting in amazement and that’s how you can know where to look. You may be able to spot a shadowy figure moving around in the water and that is likely a manta ray. In between sightings, you can just admire the sunset which we had a perfect view of from our balcony.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony view manta rays

Even if you are not into spotting manta rays, just the sight of all of the boats and the lights is a bit of a spectacle.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite balcony view manta rays

While it was fun viewing from the balcony, you may also want to check out the viewing station which I’ll talk about below.

Voyager 47 Club Lounge

The Voyager 47 Club Lounge exceeded my expectations on this stay.

Sometimes club lounges at resorts in tropical locations can be pretty underwhelming, especially if you don’t drink alcohol. But this club lounge was absolutely worth it.

First, the staff running the lounge did a tremendous job. They were very welcoming, warm, and personable.

Outrigger Kona Resort Club Deluxe Oceanfront Suite Voyager 47 Club Lounge

During the evening you can go for happy hour where you can also get a bite to eat. The snack lineup was pretty extensive with poke bowls, charcuterie, chips, fruit, and sweets.

Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge food
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge food
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge food
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge food

The views from the lounge were pretty impressive although they were essentially the same as the views from our room.

Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge views

Brad had a lot of good things to say about the drinks they were serving up, especially the blue manta.

Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge drinks

The lounge is located in the Ahiahi (red) wing, which was great for us because our room is located just one floor beneath the lounge.

On the other hand, it did mean that we would have reduced privacy on the balcony since the lounge balcony overlooks ours.

It’s something to think about but I didn’t mind because the balcony gave us a premier vantage point for manta ray viewing which was such a unique room feature.

While you can get breakfast at the Wailele Cafe, if you have lounge access you can enjoy your breakfast up there.

I found the breakfast options to be very solid in the lounge and each morning we were able to start our day off with a nice, well-rounded breakfast. Here’s a look at all of the breakfast offerings.

Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast

Yogurt parfaits were perfect breakfast items to take with you on the go.

The staff in the lounge was very clear that we could take items with us which I really appreciated because sometimes you feel like you’re smuggling items out of the lounge.

Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast

The fruit slices from the fruit bowl were very fresh.

Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast

Multiple four-slot toasters and pre-made and packaged condiments made it easy to enjoy bagels in the morning.

Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast
Outrigger Kona Resort Voyager 47 Club Lounge breakfast

The pools

The property has two pool areas and the hours are 8 AM to 10 PM.

The slightly smaller pool (called the inner pool) is the adults only (21+) pool which is located in the courtyard of the resort. This is still a pretty decent sized pool and it never got too crowded during our stay.

Outrigger Kona Resort pool
Outrigger Kona Resort pool
Outrigger Kona Resort pool

One of the cool features of this pool is the waterfall which you can actually get underneath.

Outrigger Kona Resort pool

The much larger pool is family friendly and this pool stayed busier.

Outrigger Kona Resort pool

It’s also the pool where you can find a pretty legit waterslide.

We did the waterslide a few times and it’s a lot of fun for both kids and adults.

Just keep your arms held in when you hit the water because this thing sends you crashing into the water a little bit faster than you might think.

The hours for the slide were 9 AM to 6 PM and there is an attendant at the top to make sure people go down it safely.

Outrigger Kona Resort pool slide

If you have small children, you’ll enjoy the beach entry for the pool located on the other end of the swimming pool.

Outrigger Kona Resort pool kids
Outrigger Kona Resort pool

They also have a couple of large hot tubs in this pool area.

Outrigger Kona Resort pool hot tub

You can rent cabanas by scanning the QR code on your guest reference hand out.

A deluxe cabana for two goes for $100. Meanwhile, you can rent a shaded umbrella with pool lounge seating for up to two people for $20. Compared to other resorts, I thought these prices were pretty reasonable.

I really liked that some of these had real ocean views as some hotels sometimes inexplicably put their chairs and cabanas right behind large bushes that obscure the view.

Manta ray viewing

The Outrigger is a special place to view mantas because this is where it all began.

About 50 years ago, when this property was known as the Kona Surf Hotel, the hotel set up some lights on the water so that guests could enjoy that sights of the ocean at night.

The lights ended up attracting a lot of plankton which also started to bring in the manta rays.

Initially, people didn’t know what the shadowy figures were swooping around but after a bold scuba diver jumped in, they realized these were majestic manta rays coming in to feast on plankton.

Over time, this developed into a tourist attraction with regular scuba dives for people to come check out the mantas. And eventually, a few other spots were found on the Big Island where mantas could reliably be seen.

So when you visit the Outrigger, you get to enjoy spotting manta rays from where it all began!

The viewing area is a pretty cool facility and it’s also where a restaurant was once located.

Reportedly, this restaurant should be returning at some point which a lot of people will be happy to hear because it was apparently a pretty popular joint.

Outrigger Kona Resort manta ray viewing

You’ll find a deck with railing and a row of chairs which do fill up so you may want to get there a little bit early to get a spot.

Outrigger Kona Resort manta ray viewing

We arrived at the viewing deck after our scuba dive so things were slowing down but it’s a really cool vibe from that spot — definitely a unique hotel feature.

Outrigger Kona Resort manta ray viewing


Our first dining was at Holua which is located between the two pools.

Outrigger Kona Resort food

I went with the spicy chicken sandwich which did not have much spice to it but had a fresh chicken breast and good flavor to it. Brad went with the smash burger which did not disappoint.

Outrigger Kona Resort food

Because of our schedule with the diving we didn’t really have an opportunity to sit down and experience Wailele Cafe as we arrived back to the property a little late.

However, despite approaching closing, the staff was still happy to serve us some food to go like the Korean braised short rib and Thai red curry beef and it all hit the spot.

Outrigger Kona Resort food
Outrigger Kona Resort food

Fitness center

You’ll find the fitness center on the first floor of the Helani wing which is located close to the manta ray viewing area. It’s a well equipped gym with some cardio machines having ocean views.

Outrigger Kona Resort gym
Outrigger Kona Resort gym cardio machines

You’ll also have a good range of other equipment to utilize.

Outrigger Kona Resort gym
Outrigger Kona Resort gym
Outrigger Kona Resort gym
Outrigger Kona Resort gym

The resort does put on a luau which is called the “Feast and Fire Luau Show.”

It takes place on the Hawaii Lawn and it looks like they put it on a couple of times a week although that might vary depending on the time of year.

Unfortunately, we had planned a scuba dive with the manta rays on the evening when the show was going on so we were not able to attend. But I’ve heard good things.

If you’re a tennis player, there are a couple of courts for you to enjoy.

The hotel also has a full basketball court with manta ray logo at center court which was a nice touch. I really do love that they brand themselves so closely with the mantas.

You’ll find a pathway that takes you along the coastal portion of the hotel. It’s worth taking a walk around because it gives you a really close view of the beautiful lava rocks.

You can also sign up for a free historic Keauhou Land tour which is a guided walking tour along the shoreline. Take in the beautiful scenery while learning about the historical village of Kaukulaelae which is the birthplace of King Kamehameha III.


The resort puts on a lot of events and you just need to check the activities calendar to see what is going on when you visit.

You can partake in things like lei making, slide races, hula lessons, beginner ukulele, and other activities like yoga classes at the chapel lawn.

If you need equipment rentals for the tennis courts you can get those complimentary and they also offer a daily paddleboard rental for up to two hours free of charge. For those who need snorkel gear or beach chairs and umbrellas, you can get 20% off.

And finally, if you want to learn more about the manta rays, join a manta talk at the mantle learning center, which I believe they put on a little while before sunset.

Final word

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here.

The service was top-notch from beginning to end, and I couldn’t get enough of the views. I’m really big on unique hotel features and the manta ray viewing that can be enjoyed from here ranks pretty high on my list of unique hotel attractions.

The food did not disappoint and neither did the lounge experience. The only drawback to the property is that it is dated but with the renovations just beginning, that will soon be remedied.

So I would gladly return back to this resort!

Does JetBlue Fly to Hawaii?

With the relatively recent addition of Southwest, travelers now have plenty of different ways to get to Hawaii when it comes to flying on US airlines.

But what about adding one more airline into the mix?

Is it possible that you could soon be getting to the Aloha State via JetBlue? Let’s take a look at some of the recent comments made by JetBlue and see how this could potentially play out.

Does JetBlue fly to Hawaii?

JetBlue does not currently fly to Hawaii although there have been talks about them adding flights from the West Coast to Hawaii for a few years.

Would JetBlue ever really fly to Hawaii?

JetBlue is known for its presence on the East Coast in places like New York, Boston, and Florida.

However, they have been steadily expanding their network internationally and moving west along the way with field offices in Salt Lake City. One of the biggest drivers of a more recent expansion into the West may be the potential merger of JetBlue and the ultra low cost carrier, Spirit Airlines.

If that merger is successful, it’s possible that JetBlue could end up flying to Hawaii in the near future.

In fact, in DOT filings JetBlue specifically commented on this saying that if the merger with Spirit Airlines takes place, they would have the capacity at LAX to increase their flight network with one of the additions being flights to Hawaii.

“A larger JetBlue with access to additional Terminal 5 gates will be able to add even more routes from Los Angeles, including Hawaii flying and additional leisure service.”

Indeed, in prior comments JetBlue made references to expanding into Hawaii so it seems like this is something they have had their eyes on for a while.

But with their strong East Coast foundation already built, they have been focused on building out their transatlantic flights which now serve the UK and France.

It’s worth noting that the DOJ is currently suing to block this merger from going through for anti-trust purposes.

If you’ve ever flown JetBlue Mint before, you probably would be very happy to find out that JetBlue is flying to Hawaii. That’s because they offer one of the best lie flat products in the US!

The flight from California to Hawaii and vice versa is not very long, though. From LAX to HNL, it takes about five hours and 50 minutes.

Some airlines use standard recliner seats in first class when flying between these two destinations so I don’t think it’s a guarantee that JetBlue would fly its Mint product.

Also, in the above mentioned prior talks about expanding flights out of LAX, the A220 was brought up as an aircraft of choice which is not equipped with Mint lie flat seats. This would suggest that JetBlue may not be introducing Mint to this route.

Some airlines fly a mix of standard recliner and lie-flat seats to Hawaii from the western mainland but I’m not sure about the odds of JetBlue doing that.

JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines partnership

Even though JetBlue currently does not fly to Hawaii, there are still ways for you to utilize your JetBlue membership to help you get to Hawaii or at least earn extra points when doing so.

JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines have a code share partnership, so it is possible to benefit as a JetBlue member when flying to and from Hawaii.

You can use JetBlue points to book Hawaiian Airlines and the redemption rates aren’t bad. For example, 45,000 points could get you a business class one way from the West Coast to Hawaii. For only 6,000 points you can jump from one Hawaiian island to the other in economy.

The drawback is that you currently have to call in and speak with an agent to make this type of award booking.

TrueBlue members can also earn TrueBlue points on Hawaiian Airlines flights. You can read more about the earning rates here.

Related: Hawaiian Airlines First Class Guide

Final word

JetBlue does not currently fly to Hawaii but it’s possible that they could add routes to Hawaii in the future based on statements made by JetBlue (to the government) regarding the potential merger with Spirit Airlines.

If that merger goes through, we could be seeing JetBlue flights to Hawaii relatively soon.

But even if the merger does not go through, JetBlue seems to have been eyeing Hawaii already and so it’s possible those flights could come into existence regardless of what the DOT allows.

Is Hawaii Overrated? An Honest Look At Visiting The Aloha State

Hawaii is often thought of as the ultimate vacation destination that everyone instantly falls in love with. And how couldn’t you with all of the breathtaking scenery, warm weather, clear water, etc.

But is Hawaii actually an overrated tourist destination?

In this article, I’ll take a look at some of the different aspects of visiting Hawaii and I’ll answer the question of whether or not Hawaii is overrated based largely on my own personal experiences but also on what others have said.

The insane prices and high fees

Let’s kick off this discussion talking about the prices in Hawaii, which is one of the biggest complaints of visiting Hawaii.

Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to visit.

Nice resorts on islands like Maui and the Big Island are very expensive. For example, at the time of publishing the cheapest room (a Resort View 2 Queen Bed) at the Hilton Waikoloa Village was running for $640 per night.

You can find cheaper lodging if you really look especially around Honolulu but some of the more affordable hotels can be quite dated, have tiny rooms, etc.

The prices can also affect a lot more than lodging.

One area is the food.

I give islands like Hawaii a pass to a certain extent because they have to import so many things, which naturally drives higher prices.

But sometimes the price is just sooo out of line with the quality of your food that it’s mildly infuriating.

For example, take a look at this piece of pizza below. We paid $14 for two small slices of this pizza (which we thought were much bigger because of the packaging).

For lunch, one of our hotels on the Big Island was charging $37 for a bacon cheeseburger and fries and this was not some fancy restaurant by any means.

pice of pizza

Getting hit with exorbitant prices gets old very quickly especially whenever you feel like the value you receive is not anywhere close to what you’re paying for.

It’s one thing to pay $40 for a cheeseburger when it’s amazing and quite another to pay that much when it’s barely mediocre.

If you have visited other beautiful tropical locations that are much cheaper it’s hard not to feel like you’re just constantly getting hosed.

The fees in Hawaii can also quickly add up.

Resort fees are very common and they can be pretty high (~$45 per night), parking can cost you $50 a day, and some hotels will even slap on a $15+ delivery fee for each room service request.

If you try to go about a visit to Hawaii like you would in a “normal” location, it can feel like you’re just blowing money left and right as you navigate a minefield of fees and high prices.

And another thing that makes the additional expenses that much more of an issue is that Hawaii is so far from the mainland.

This usually prevents you from taking shorter trips which means more days spent trying to avoid spending a lot of dough! After a long 10-day vacation you may feel fatigued — not just from your beach days and adventures — but from feeling the constant sting in your wallet.

Related: How Many Days Are Needed to Visit Hawaii?

The crowds, tourists, and over commercialization

One thing that can get old with Hawaii is dealing with crowds and the over commercialization.

We’ve tried to visit beaches before where all of the parking was filled up by mid morning and gates were closed off to other visitors. I’ve seen crazy long lines for pretty unremarkable attractions (e.g., the train ride at the Dole Plantation) and mandatory reservations are becoming much more common.

I often feel like if I’m visiting a place with even mild popularity (like a nice waterfall), I have to get going as early as possible or I’ll be stuck dealing with heavy crowds (or possibly no parking).

You also have a fair amount of inconsiderate tourists like the ones we had to deal with on top of Mauna Kea who were flying a loud drone (illegally) during a beautiful sunrise.

To be fair, crowds are not always an issue in some places especially whenever you get outside of spots like Waikiki.

We’ve gone on hikes in Kauai where we were able to escape the crowds but not always the commercialization.

For example, we did an amazing hike in the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” with beautiful canyon views.

But unlike the real Grand Canyon which offers hikers solace when off the rim, we had to contend with the recurring buzzing of helicopters flying overhead.

So at times, it can feel like a real challenge to escape the far-reaching impact of tourism even when you’re venturing miles out from the main areas.

waimea canyon

Bad experiences with locals

Another major negative aspect of visiting Hawaii could be bad experiences with the locals.

Personally, I haven’t had any negative experiences with locals on my visits to Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. In fact, I would say my engagements have been overwhelmingly positive.

But I have heard many reports of locals being rude, overly defensive, racist, etc.

Now, I get it that some locals probably have their reasons for feeling a certain type of way towards tourists or mainlanders. For example, they could’ve had prior experiences with inconsiderate or entitled tourists who don’t respect the land or history of the islands. It probably happens way too often.

But there are broader, deep-seated racial tensions in the state that impact the way some locals interact with mainlanders, which is not always so nice.

As an American from the mainland, when I visit locations outside of the main tourist spots, I sometimes feel like there is this unsettled status of Hawaii as the 50th state.

You’ll see special discounts called “Kamaʻāina rates” for native Hawaiians (those with local IDs) at places like restaurants, hotels, and other tourist attractions.

That type of thing doesn’t bother me (Hawaii is not the only state to offer discounts or perks to residents).

But those type of things, along with a complicated and grievous history, language differences, and a vocal minority pushing for sovereignty, often give me this feeling that I’m visiting a foreign place rather than one of the 50 states in the US.

It’s odd to have that “other” experience when in your own country and I think that is one reason why some people feel less comfortable in Hawaii.

It’s like visiting a political hybrid zone where you don’t quite know how exactly you fit in.

Customer service woes

In my experience, the customer service in Hawaii can be very hit or miss.

I’ve had some tremendous service at the resorts we’ve stayed at but when it comes to the tour operators it’s been a different story.

To me, it feels like some of the tour operators are so accustomed to herding hundreds of tourists through their experiences each day that they don’t give attention to where it’s needed when things go wrong.

For example, I’ve called ahead to schedule tours and get verification about certain aspects of the tour before arriving. The reps were quick and happy to make a guarantees when it was time for payment but when we went through with the tours, it failed to deliver what was promised.

(This is a much bigger deal for a travel blogger like myself who carefully plans out content because it means a missed content opportunity.)

My complaints in these cases were largely dismissed even though some of them were borderline deceptive trade practices. Sometimes it feels like they view complaints as just another “unhappy mainlander” complaining and they blow it off.

Because you are flying so far and paying so much money, when the customer service is subpar and you have a real complaint it makes the infraction that much worse.

The beauty overrated?

Okay so this is one thing that I’m not quite on board with but some people do feel that Hawaii is not quite as beautiful as it’s made out to be.

It’s true, there are a lot of beautiful places out there that could compete with Hawaii and everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences.

Personally, I am more swept away by the wild and rugged landscapes of Alaska but Hawaii is a close contender for most beautiful US state.

In terms of international comparisons, other countries like New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Bora Bora, Fiji, the Seychelles, and some countries in the Caribbean could certainly hold their own when compared to Hawaii.

But I really struggle to get on board with the idea that Hawaii’s beauty is overrated. There are just so many idyllic beaches, mountains, hiking trails, views, etc. in Hawaii that it’s hard for me not to consider Hawaii as a top tier destination when it comes to overall beauty.

So I guess it’s possible you could be let down by the beauty of Hawaii but I really don’t see how you could be.

Final word

No destination is ever going to be perfect — you can always find areas where some place can be improved.

I don’t think that I would ever call Hawaii “overrated” because I really love visiting, but I would agree that the drawbacks to Hawaii don’t get as much attention as they probably should.

With that said, I think it’s always worth visiting at least one time to see what it’s like for yourself.

How Many Days Are Needed to Visit Hawaii?

Are you trying to figure out how many days you need for a great visit to Hawaii?

There’s a lot that goes into planning a trip to Hawaii but there are a few key considerations you want to think about when planning the minimum amount of days needed for your trip.

Below, I’ve broken down some of the big things you want to think about and provided some tips to help you better estimate how much time you may need.

Travel days versus vacation days

When thinking about how much time you need for Hawaii, it’s helpful to think about the days in terms of travel days versus vacation days.

We will talk more about island hopping below but at a minimum you are going to have two travel days when you visit Hawaii (assuming you come back home of course).

Depending on your flight schedule and level of exhaustion, you may not be able to really do any kind of vacation activities (or relaxing) on these travel days so it’s often helpful to just remove them from your trip day count.

As a general rule of thumb, I would try to give myself at least five vacation days when visiting a single island on Hawaii. But let’s explore how some other factors affect this.

Where are you coming from?

Where you are coming from can make a big impact on how long you should stay.

Consider that in Hawaii, it’s a six hour time difference from the East Coast and three hour time difference from the West Coast.

When traveling from east to west, it’s expected that you will need one day for each one and a half time zones crossed. When heading back east, you may need one day for each time zone.

That would mean when traveling from the East Coast to Hawaii you would need about three to four days to completely get over jet lag.

Of course, you can still get out and enjoy yourself when dealing with some jet lag (and everybody’s different) but it’s good to think about this when planning the length of your stay.

In particular, you want to be careful about those first 24 to 48 hours. It’s often recommended to avoid certain activities like scuba diving during the first 24 hours of jet lag.

Also, it’s not always about jet lag.

If you’re not someone who can sleep on a flight, a long flight can tire you out and make you borderline useless for a good 24 hours or so.

The nonstop flight from New York to Honolulu is around 11 hours so think about the effect that a flight like that might have on you. And then just imagine what a connecting flight or two would do to you.

Lots of times, because you are so pumped about visiting Hawaii, it may be difficult to get good sleep before your trip. So your sleepless time can add up really quickly and before you know it, you’ve gone 36 hours with virtually no sleep.

If traveling from the East Coast to Hawaii, I would recommend planning for at least eight vacation days. That way, at least half of your vacation days should be free of jet lag.

Because the jump over from the West Coast is only a three hour time zone difference and flights can get you there in under six hours, taking short trips of a few days makes a lot more sense. I know quite a few people who take three day weekend trips from the West Coast to Hawaii like it’s nothing.

Of course, one of the ways that you can enhance the comfort of your flight and hopefully get more rest is by flying first class. Check out our guide on flying first class on Hawaiian Airlines for more details on how we did it for very cheap.

Odds of going back?

Another question to ask yourself is what are the odds of you going back anytime soon? For some people, Hawaii is literally a once in a lifetime trip.

If you think it’s highly unlikely that you will be going back anytime soon, I’d strive for a 10 days of vacation. I’d also probably try to split time between two islands: Oahu and Kauai/Maui/or the Big Island.

Just don’t try to do too much island hopping which I’ll talk about below.

Are you going to be island hopping?

One of the biggest factors that will impact how much time you need is whether or not you plan on island hopping.

A common temptation is to want to island hop to two or even three different islands on your first trip to Hawaii.

And I get it. Each island has its own unique beauty with plenty of bucket list things to see and inter-island flights are very cheap.

This temptation is made worse by folks throwing out how “it’s only a 35 minute plane ride” to get to “X” island.

But you have to consider all of the true travel time involved with island hopping.

Even though the flights between the islands can be very short and easily under one hour, you still have to think about the time spent packing up, getting to the airport, waiting for your flight, arriving, checking in a rental car, getting to your hotel, etc.

And don’t forget about unexpected issues.

We just experienced this on our last trip to Hawaii where one of our flights had apparently been refunded without us even realizing it! That ended up eating a few more hours out of our day.

So island hopping can easily burn up the bulk of one day unless you’re flying out pretty early.

But aside from time, it can also tire you out which is the opposite of what a lot of people visiting Hawaii want.

If you plan on visiting a second island, I would recommend staying at least 10 total days and even that’s on the lower side.

That’s because if you stayed for 10 days, three of those days will be travel days so that really only leaves you seven vacation days to explore two islands.

Most likely that would mean something like three days on one island and four days on the other. That’s pretty doable but again that’s still on the short side if you ask me. Giving yourself at least three to four vacation days on every island you visit is probably ideal when island hopping.

In a lot of cases, it could just make more sense to split your time up on one island which brings me to the next point.

Related: Flying Southwest Inter-island in Hawaii? Here’s What to Expect

Staying in multiple cities on one island

Another thing to think about is whether or not you plan on moving around to other places on the same island. Lots of the islands have two or three main hotspots where people like to stay and these different spots can offer a vastly different experience.

For example, Kona on the Big Island is extremely different from Hilo, which is on the wetter side of the island. Going from one to the other is almost like going to a different island.

By staying in vastly different places on the same island (which is often “dry” side vs “wet” side), you can get the feel of experiencing two different islands. But it has the added bonus of giving you more time to explore rather than waiting around in airports.

It’s also nice because Hawaii is one of those places where there is seemingly something interesting to check out at every corner. So there will be more than enough to see on one island.

While switching hotels does not take up as much time as island hopping, it still can eat up a good amount of time, so you don’t want to go too crazy with it.

On an island like the Big Island it can take you one to three hours to get to where you need to be depending on the route and traffic.

Even on a small island like Kauai, it can still take you two hours to get from one side of the island to the other.

Also, if you’re staying at some of the huge resorts in Hawaii, just getting in and out of those can eat up more time. The check-in lines can be a lot longer, getting to and from your room can be a small hike, etc.

They also don’t tend to offer early check-in so if you arrive early, you’ll find yourself waiting around for your room to get ready (and hoping that it’s ready on time).

So if you plan on staying on one island and bouncing around two different spots, I think at least six vacation days would be a good length of stay.

What do you plan on doing?

Another big consideration is what do you plan on doing?

If you plan on doing weather dependent things like a helicopter ride in Kauai or visiting the top of Mauna Kea, you want to have extra time in case the weather disrupts your plans.

Hawaii gets a lot of rain and sometimes it’s a bit unpredictable so having some alternate dates available can be key.

Each time we have visited Hawaii, we have ended up flipping around different itinerary items because the weather has impacted our plans.

A lot of interesting activities can also eat up a large portion of your day.

Some of the coolest places like the Green Sand Beach on the Big Island or the Jurassic Park gates filming location, take a lot of time to access. Plenty of other amazing waterfalls or beaches also require a good hike to get there and back.

Some places like Pearl Harbor can be a full day event if you really want to see everything and soak it all in.

Another really great thing about giving yourself extra days is that you can get an early start for different locations which will help you to avoid the crowds not to mention hotter temperatures.

If you have limited days that means you’ll be hitting more of the hotspots right in the middle of the afternoon when crowds can be really bad. This can quickly take a toll on your enjoyment.

Can your budget handle the expense?

While there are many reasons to go with a longer trip, the fact is not every budget allows for that.

While you can find some affordable hotels in Hawaii, it’s one of the most expensive places you can visit, especially islands like Maui.

If you find yourself on the lower end of some of the recommendations above, don’t worry. You can still have an amazing time in Hawaii.

In those cases, I’d recommend to strive for a minimum of four vacation days on a single island. Unless you’re coming from the western US, anything shorter than that may not be worth it.

Final word

Because of how remote Hawaii is, you want to give yourself enough time to enjoy these tropical islands before heading back home.

Exactly how much time that will require will depend on where you’re coming from, how much bouncing around you plan on doing, and the type of activities you’re interested in.

My general advice would be to give yourself at least five vacation days on a single island or at least four vacation days on each island when island hopping.

For people coming from the western US, they can probably shave a day or two off of those recommendations.

Does It Snow in Hawaii? Where & When Can You See It?

Lots of people seriously doubt that it snows in Hawaii. The image just does not conform with our traditional picture of Hawaii as a warm and breezy tropical paradise with lush palm trees and warm beaches.

But does it actually snow in Hawaii? And if so, where can you experience this rare snow?

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the snow in Hawaii including the best places to see it.

Does it snow in Hawaii?

Yes, Hawaii can get quite a bit of snow but only in the mountains where the elevation is significantly higher than sea level. This would include places like: Mauna Kea (elevation 13,803′), Mauna Loa (elevation 13,680′), and Mount Haleakala (elevation 10,023′).

Therefore the only places where you would expect to encounter snow in Hawaii would be on the islands of Maui and Hawaii (the Big Island).

So if you were thinking that you would be chilled out on Waikiki Beach with snow falling on you from the sky, that’s not going to be the case. The temperatures are simply way too warm and stable for you to experience snow at the beach.

For example, on Kailua-Kona which is on the Big Island, the average low at the coldest time of year in January is 68°F and the lowest ever recorded temperature in Honolulu is 52 °F. Those coastal temps are obviously much too warm for snow.

Typically the snow in Hawaii is not going to fall below 9,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation but that’s not always the case. In February of 2019, more than a foot of snow blanketed Polipoli Spring State Recreation Park on Maui, which sits at an elevation of 6,200 feet!

It’s also been reported that there have been extremely rare snowstorms that have brought snow to elevations as low as 3,000 feet, although the recorded evidence seems to be sparse.

In those cases, the snow likely melts very quickly similar to how snow melts pretty fast in the desert.

On average, the mountain tops receive about 3 to 5 snow events per year, although some years won’t bring any and other years will bring even more.

These winter storms also can bring in heavy winds so it’s not always the most peaceful snowfall experience. In fact, it can be quite dangerous to be visiting any of the mountain tops when snow like that moves in.

Surfers will love when these “Kona low” storms blow in because they also bring along huge swells!

Snow in Hawaii
The summit of Mauna Kea covered in snow.

The best place to see snow in Hawaii

Probably the best place to see snow in Hawaii is on Mauna Kea, which can be accessed via a mountain road so long as you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle and follow all the mandatory procedures (read more about those here).

Mauna Kea is the highest point on Hawaii and it rises to 13,803 feet. If you were to measure the mountain all the way down to its base which is located at the bottom of the ocean, the entire mountain actually is taller than Mount Everest! Crazy stuff.

Sometimes the snow/ice will not melt completely until sometime in the summer so it’s possible for you to head up to the top and at least see remnants of snow in the months of April/May and possibly even June.

The mountaintop can receive a lot of snow such that it actually builds up a decent little snowpack. When we visited the summit in March, I was very surprised at how thick that snowpack was. You definitely didn’t feel like you were in Hawaii!

Just how much snow can hit Mauna Kea? Well, in December 2016 the mountain received more than two feet of snow! For a tropical paradise, that’s pretty impressive.

The Mauna Kea visitor center at is located at about 9,300 feet so it would be possible for you to visit there on a snowy day although it would probably be a pretty rare occasion.

Snow in Hawaii

Just how cold can it get in Hawaii?

The lowest recorded temperature is apparently 8°F which was recorded on Mauna Kea back in February 2019 — the same time that the record snowfall happened on Maui.

When we visited the summit for sunrise in March, it was in the mid 20s °F, although it can warm up to the 40s during the day around that time.

This means that if you want to see snow on Mauna Kea it’s a good idea to bundle up. Flip-flops and an aloha shirt aren’t exactly proper attire on top of the mountain….

But the temperature is only one factor when heading up to check out the snow in Hawaii. You also need to be mindful of the wind.

If there is no wind up on the mountain the temperatures can be very bearable.

But if you run into strong winds with crazy gusts, it can be really difficult to stay comfortable up there. In fact, sometimes they shut down the road because it gets too windy!

Consider that the strongest wind gust recording on top of Mauna Kea was a whopping 191 mph during a winter storm! So you don’t want to mess around with some of these storms.

Snow in Hawaii Mauna Loa
Looking out to a snowcapped Mauna Loa.

Visiting during a snowstorm

If you want to actually get caught in a snowstorm in Hawaii that’s going to be a lot tougher.

The snow storms would only be occurring at the higher elevations on the mountains and the roads often get closed during inclement weather. So unless you were already up there or hiked your way up there, it would be a challenge to experience a snowstorm.

And remember those storms can be brutal so there’s definitely a major risk involved.

Snow in Hawaii

Skiing and snowboarding in Hawaii?

It’s true, people do ski and snowboard on Mauna Kea when there is enough snow up there, which usually tends to be between December and March. After major storm blows through, conditions might be right for skiing and snowboarding for about a week or so.

However, it’s a lot more challenging than your typical skiing outing at a resort.

That’s because there is no ski resort up there and you have to bring your own equipment. You’ll also have to do a good amount of hiking up and down unless you have someone to act as your personal ski lift.

The snow conditions also are not always ideal as you have to contend with smaller runs, not to mention lava rocks under the snow that could cause injury or damage your equipment.

So this is probably a spot best for people with a good amount of experience. I would not attempt this if you have little to no experience.

And remember, the top of Mauna Kea is considered sacred by some natives so always be as respectful as you can when you’re up there.

Final word

Hawaii definitely gets a fair amount of snow but it’s typically at elevations above 9,000 feet which would only include a few mountains located within the state. This will usually happen 3 to 4 times a year during the winter/early spring but it’s always going to vary based on weather patterns.

On rare occasions, the snowfall may happen at lower elevations around 6,000 feet or reportedly even as low as 3,000 feet but that’s definitely the exception and not the norm.

Scuba Diving at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii

Scuba diving with manta rays on the Big Island is without a doubt a bucket list experience.

It’s hard to describe the thrill of watching these gentle giants swoop in above your head and it’s easily one of the top dives I’ve ever done.

If you’re thinking about scuba diving with manta rays on the Big Island, I’ll give you a full breakdown of the experience and let you know exactly what to expect!

Why we chose scuba diving at Manta Heaven

Initially, I wanted to scuba dive at Manta Village because it was so close to our hotel at the Outrigger but I struggled to find any dive outings, so we chose to scuba dive at Manta Heaven/Garden Eel Cove and booked with Manta Rays Dives of Hawaii.

Based on all of the boats we saw, there are a number of diving companies out there but we had a really great experience with Manta Rays Dives of Hawaii, so I would gladly recommend them.

They checked off all the boxes of a good dive shop which included: good pre-arrival communication, experienced and personable crew, equipped boat, and no equipment or safety concerns.

Arriving for the scuba dive

If you go with Manta Rays Dives of Hawaii, you’ll want to arrive at 74-380 Kealakehe Pkwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 right on time as they make it clear that arriving too late means the boat going out without you!

Your exact meeting time may vary depending on the sunset so always double check your email for the correct time.

The email tells you to check in at the boat but in reality you check in under the pavilion right by the boats. If you need to go to the bathroom, there is a public bathroom facility just across the parking lot from where you check-in.

Depending on the size of the groups, there may be one or two boats going out that evening. If you’re snorkeling, you could be on a boat with only snorkelers or on a boat with the divers.

The boat ride out

Once you check in, you will head to the boat where you will find your wetsuit and scuba gear — you should already have a seat assigned for you making things very easy.

This means you should arrive wearing your swimsuit underneath your street clothes.

They have plastic bins under your seats with lids so it’s really easy to keep your bags or other items dry which is really nice. Still, bring a towel because it could get cold on the way back in. Also, a waterproof jacket could come in handy since my shirt got pretty drenched on the way in.

It took us about 25 minutes to get to our diving spot where we saw several other boats when we arrived.

Scuba Diving at Manta Heaven

Once we were there, the instructors gave us a short lecture on the manta rays, which was pretty interesting and informative. They also did a good job of fielding all of our questions.

The only issue was that it was pretty choppy out there. People like me, who are a little iffy with sea sickness, may find themselves counting down the minutes until it’s time to dive in. In total, it took about 45 minutes for us to get into the water after we arrived.

They did have ginger chews on board which I took advantage of and I ended up being just fine but it’s always a little dicey for me when it comes to bobbing for that long on choppy waters. For sure, I would have preferred to have the mini-lecture on land and then just dive right in, but I understand they need time to set things up.

After the informational lecture, they gathered the divers at the bow where we talked specifically about what the dive was going to be like.

At about that time a whale appeared over the horizon and we got a little bonus wildlife spotting at sunset! Incredible and a bit lucky I guess since we were later in the season.

Whale sunset on sea
Check out the whale in the distance!

Overall, the dive here is a really simple process.

If you’ve never done a night dive then the only thing really different about the experience is that you have a light torch attached to your BCD. It’s easy to operate (it’s just an underwater flashlight) and I just left mine on the entire time, which I believe is what you are supposed to do.

Related: Visiting Mauna Kea: Sunrises, Sunsets, & Stargazing

The dive

Once you enter water, you’ll head straight down and then likely be directed to the campfire which is a large circular rock structure at the bottom of the ocean floor. (It’s possible they could take you to another location depending on conditions and dive depth can range from 35 to 53 feet.)

Scuba Diving at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii

From there, your instructor will show you exactly where you need to be for the entirety of the dive. It’s your preference as to how you want to get comfortable down there. For example, you can hold the rocks, hug the rocks, lie on the rocks, sit on your knees, etc.

Scuba Diving at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii campfire

There will likely be several other diving groups around the campfire and lots of light beams shining up towards the surface in order to attract the plankton and the mantas. That visual, in and of itself, is pretty cool to see as it almost has this underwater night club feel to it. Only thing missing is house music.

Scuba Diving at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii

While there were lots of people down there, it didn’t feel overcrowded and we didn’t have any issues staying together as a group.

It only took about three minutes for the first manta ray sighting for us which was pretty amazing.

It swooped in from the right and then made several majestic turns in front of us in typical manta ray fashion. I was very satisfied with that sighting alone but it would get much better.

Scuba Diving at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii

About a minute later another one came in and we had two manta rays to admire!

Sometimes they would hang around a little higher above us but then they would make their move down really close to us. At times, they would fly in from our blind spot which is always a thrill.

Scuba Diving at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii

We always tried to limit the bubbles whenever they got really close so that we did not scare them away. And sometimes you even have to duck so that you don’t contact them and potentially injure their fragile exterior.

It seemed like every minute or two there would be a new addition to the crew of mantas. Before long, there were six or seven different mantas coming through from seemingly every direction! It was wild.

Manta ray at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii

We had done a scuba dive and encountered manta rays before in the Maldives and it was breathtaking.

Because of that dive, I almost passed on this experience so that I could try something different while on the Big Island. But I’m very happy that I decided to do this dive because it was such a different experience from the Maldives.

There’s just something about being so close to giant creatures that makes you feel so alive. But unlike encountering something like a great white shark, you know that these are gentle giants which just makes it a very peaceful and mesmerizing time under the water.

So if you were thinking about passing on diving with manta rays because you have encountered them before, I’d encourage you to still try out this dive because it is so different from anything else!

Manta ray at Manta Heaven, Big Island Hawaii

If for some reason the mantas are not approaching, you can hold your flashlight straight up above your head to attract them but make sure you don’t flash them in the eyes. (Also make sure you are not flashing other divers with your lights.)

We never felt the need to hold our lights above our heads because there were so many manta rays constantly coming in so close.

In total, I believe there were about 10 different manta rays that ended up showing up which is an above average showing.

On average it sounds like you may see 2 to 3 manta rays although it is possible for them to never show up at all. If you’re not fortunate to see any then I believe you can go out on another dive for free.

Also, if no manta rays show up then it’s possible the instructor could take you on an actual dive after waiting around for them for about 15 to 20 minutes.

One thing I really liked about the experience is that you can just focus on the beauty of the mantas. Since you don’t have to swim anywhere, all you need to worry about is admiring these creatures (and monitoring your air supply).

While I was keeping an eye on my air levels, our dive instructor was constantly checking our air for us, so we never felt neglected (which would be a big deal for people doing a night dive for the first time).

In total, we were down there for 45 minutes which really went by quickly.

I will say that because you are not actively swimming you may start to get a little chilly. The 3mm wet suit wasn’t quite as thick as I probably needed so I was fighting off shivering the last 10 minutes or so.

It might help if you can at least bring booties and a hood to help you stay a little warmer.

On the other hand, Brad was just fine with the temps so it really just comes down to your body. I probably was extra prone to temperature issues since I was coming off covid and my body was still doing weird things.

Heading back

After we finished the dive, we made our way back in the dark with beautiful nighttime views of the coast and the city lights of the mountainsides.

I thought that I would be freezing with my shirt off on the boat with all the sea mist and wind hitting me but it actually just felt great.

I’d never done a night dive before so heading back to the coast after sunset was a very different feeling, which I think is what this dive is all about.

It’s just so different from any other dive I’ve done and in the most mesmerizing kind of way!

Final word

Overall, this was the number one thing we did while on the Big Island. I think this is a great way to introduce yourself to night diving and if the mantas come out, you’ll be in awe for as long as they hang around for. I couldn’t recommend this experience enough!

Can You Take Rocks From Hawaii? Or Better Yet Should You?

On some Hawaiian islands like the Big Island, you can find lava rocks scattered all about the island, sometimes blanketing huge swaths of landscape and mountainsides for miles upon miles.

Surely taking a small rock or two with you as a souvenir would be harmless, right?

Well, maybe not.

In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not you are allowed to take rocks from Hawaii and the type of considerations you’ll want to think about like whether or not it’s against the law.

Taking things from any place when traveling

Let’s start off with some universal travel advice.

In general, it’s best to not take anything from destinations when traveling. “Leave no trace” is the way to go.

Whether it’s something natural or man-made, removing objects from a destination is not a good practice for a variety of reasons.

The biggest one is usually because: if everyone else did what you were doing, what would the end result be?

It’s possible that it could result in the complete disappearance of something unique and valuable. Consider the Trinity Site in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb exploded.

You can still find shimmering green radioactive rocks called “trinitite” at ground zero that were formed from that mega-explosion.

But imagine if every tourist who visited the Trinity Site took a small piece with them. Eventually, all of the trinitite would be gone and nobody else would be able to admire that fascinating piece of history.

A piece of historic trinitite at the Trinity Site.

In the case of lava rocks on a place like the Big Island, I don’t think anybody is worried about those rocks disappearing.

Consider that in 2018 the eruption resulted in 875 acres of new land to the island.

That’s an insane amount of “rocks” added to the island and so I don’t think there would be any type of rock shortage anytime soon even if tourists aggressively removed small rocks from the Big Island.

However, there’s more to consider.

It’s possible that the removal of lava rocks in certain tourist hot spots could lead to unsightly or unnatural changes in the landscape or terrain. I doubt this is a serious threat at most places but it’s not something to ignore.

Much worse, removing rocks from certain areas could affect the ecosystem. This is particularly true around pristine stream areas where local species rely on the rocks for shelter or in restoration areas where minimal soil disturbance is needed.

Often times, you can find signs that tell you to tread lightly and in those cases you absolutely want to avoid taking or even disturbing the rocks.

While there could be concerns about affecting the physical nature of the landscape, another reason for not taking lava rocks with you from Hawaii has to do with a curse.

Hawaii lava rock

Bad luck: the curse of Pele

According to Hawaiian legend, it’s bad luck to remove lava rocks from Hawaii. It’s known as the “curse of Pele,” with Pele being the fire and volcano goddess said to reside in the crater of Kilauea.

Pele considers the rocks and sand to be her children and it’s said that she will do anything to protect them, including cursing those who take them with bad luck.

And we’re not talking getting stuck behind a train bad luck. People report experiencing major life altering events like losing a pet or getting divorced when feeling Pele’s wrath.

In fact, sometimes their lives get so bad that they even send the rocks back to the island with the hopes of undoing the curse. It’s reported that each year more than 3,500 rocks, packages of sand, and coral are returned to Hawaii national parks.

One apparent workaround for the curse is to have a local “gift” you a rock. No word yet on if that really works but it could give you some peace of mind if you’re on the superstitious side.

Pele’s curse may not be ancient in origin, though.

It’s very likely that this curse is a relatively modern invention created by park rangers or tour guides and designed to keep tourists in line. But lots of people take it seriously such that taking lava rocks from Hawaii has become taboo.

I’m not really one to get hung up on curses and Hawaii produces a lot of sand, crushed stone, and potentially basalt fiber that’s presumably sometimes exported out of its home island, which sort of calls the whole curse thing into question.

And then there is the whole confirmation bias thing where you don’t hear anything from all of the people who avoided misfortune.

But beyond the curse, there’s also the separate issue of taking rocks from national park sites, which can get you in real legal trouble.

Hawaii lava rock

National park sites

It’s usually illegal to remove any natural resources from a national park site.

The NPS states that:

Collecting, rockhounding, and gold panning of rocks, minerals, and paleontological specimens, for either recreational or educational purposes is generally prohibited in all units of the National Park System (36 C.F.R. § 2.1(a) and § 2.5(a)).

Violating this statute could result in criminal penalties.

This means that when you head to a place like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or Haleakalā National Park, you are NOT allowed to remove lava rocks (or any type of rocks).

Lots of state parks also have similar policies that prohibit taking anything with you from the park, including rocks.

Another issue with taking or messing with rocks in national parks and state parks is that they are often used as cairns to help people navigate trails and routes.

If you go around taking these rocks, or making stacks yourself, you could be putting hikers in danger especially in areas where there are dangerous drop offs or tricky terrain. Again, leaving no trace is the key.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park


In lots of cases, it feels unnecessary and some might even say disrespectful to go to another destination and take natural resources for your own pleasure.

This is especially true in the world we live in where high quality photos and videos are so easy to take and store (don’t take the digital age for granted!).

And trust me, I get it. It’s cool to look at your shelf or whatever and see some physical reminder of your visit to an exotic location.

But ask yourself: do you really need another “thing” to clutter up your house or apartment? Do you even have a good place to put that item?

In parts of Polynesia like Hawaii, natives have a strong reciprocal and familial relationship to the land, known as “Āina.”

Removing rocks from the land for the sake of showing off your keepsake collection probably does not jibe well with that symbiotic ideology very well. That’s because it’s all about taking and not giving. There’s no balance.

To Native Hawaiians, land is not a commodity; it is the foundation of their cultural and spiritual identity as Hawaiians. The ‘āina is part of their ‘ohana, and they care for it as they do for other members of their families. For them, the land and the natural environment are alive, respected, treasured, praised, and even worshiped.”

 Professor Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Kumu Hula

In some cases, removing a rock could be taken as a very disrespectful act because you could be removing something that you don’t even realize is culturally significant such as rocks from a sacred site.

For example, if you were to remove a rock from Mauna Kea, you could be taking rocks from an ancient ancestral site without even realizing it. Some tourists have even upset locals by throwing rocks into sacred sites.

It’s kind of hard for some people to truly comprehend these infractions because they did not grow up learning about and revering these rock temples, which is understandable.

But if the natives tell you that something holds sacred significance, that should be more than enough to motivate you to properly respect it. Even if you have your doubts, it’s just a matter of being considerate.

Hawaii lava rock

Bringing other items back from Hawaii

In addition to rocks, you need to be mindful about the restrictions for bringing other items back from Hawaii.

One of the biggest restrictions is that you cannot take sand from beaches in Hawaii.

But there are also a lot of restrictions for bringing agricultural products back. Items that are prohibited include most fresh fruits and vegetables and certain types of plants and flowers. Read more about what is allowed back to the mainland.

Keep in mind, you will have to send your checked bags through a USDA agricultural screening on your way back to the mainland and there can be fines for not declaring.

There are some exceptions to the prohibited fruits though. For example you can bring a limited amount of pineapples back with you to the mainland.

USDA agricultural screening

Returning rocks to Hawaii

If you find yourself needing to return rocks to Hawaii, these are reportedly addresses you can send your rocks back to:

  • Rocks taken from Maui, Lanai, or Molokai: Haleakala National Park, PO Box 369, Makawao, HI 96768
  • Rocks taken from the Big Island: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718
  • Rocks taken from Kauai: Kokee Natural History Museum, PO Box 100, Kekaha, HI 96752
  • Rocks taken from Oahu: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718

Keep in mind that there are reports of rangers just tossing the rocks they receive into a pile behind the visitor center. (It’s understandable because there are so many of these packages coming in.)

So if you’re hoping your rocks to be returned to where they were taken from, you would probably have to return to the island and do it yourself unless you know someone who would do it for you.

Final word

Overall, I would recommend not bringing rocks back from Hawaii.

Even if you don’t believe in Pele’s curse, there’s a chance you could be taking rocks from a sacred site or a location known for having a sensitive ecosystem. If you’re in a national park there’s always the chance you could get into legal trouble.

Finally, while it might be legal to take rocks from some locations, taking rocks with you does not seem to align very well with the locals’ reciprocal relationship with the land, so it’s probably best avoided in the vast majority of cases.

Richardson Ocean Park Guide: Snorkeling & Exploring this Black Sand Beach

The Big Island of Hawaii is full of amazing beaches and great snorkeling spots. One of the best spots for snorkelers is Richardson Ocean Park, a black sand beach very close to Hilo.

But what can you expect when you visit this beach and just how good is the snorkeling?

In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know!

Getting to Richardson Ocean Park

Richardson Ocean Park is very easy to get to from Hilo.

It’s only about a 10 minute drive from the city and you pretty much just follow Kalanianaole St until you arrive at the entrance. Along the way you’ll pass up other popular spots like Carlsmith Beach Park and Leleiwi Beach Park.

If you’re on the west side of the island (Kona), it’s going to be a much longer drive at about one hour and 45 minutes. (I personally would not plan a trip specifically to this beach from the other side of the island.)

There is a good sized parking lot at Richardson Ocean Park (considering the size of the beach) although lots of the parking was undergoing renovations. So when we visited there were not a whole lot of spots available.

I believe the renovations were to make the beach accessible and I think they should be finishing things up pretty soon.

The actual beach (sandy portion) of this ocean park is quite small.

You’re not gonna find a long stretch of black sand like you would at Punaluʻu Beach. Instead, it’s made up of a few very small sandy coves of black sand with lots of rocks scattered about.

Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach

There is a lifeguard stand that was not attended when we visited but I imagine that there is someone there during busier times.

Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach

You’ll also find some picnic tables and some shady areas to get a break from the sun.

When you enter, head to the right and you can continue walking to find yourself a little secluded section of beach to set up at. It’s not a particularly large area so if it’s busy there may not be many places to go. And from what I hear, this place gets pretty busy on weekends.

Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach
Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach
Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach
Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach

They also have bathroom facilities and showers here which is a huge plus.

Richardson Ocean Park showers

As you pull in, you may notice natural rocky pools located close to the coast. These are spring water ponds and they may become a factor during your time in the water which I’ll explain below.

Why the sand is special at Richardson Ocean Park

One reason why I wanted to visit Richardson Ocean Park was just for the sand — but not the black sand like you might expect….

The Big Island is famous for its black sand beaches and many people are also familiar with the unique green sand beach at Papakōlea.

Visiting the green sand beach is not so easy because it requires a 6 mile round-trip hike unless you are able to hop on a truck with locals or work out some other way to get there.

But the beach at Richardson Ocean Park can give you a taste of that green sand beach because the same olivine crystals that create the green sands at Papakōlea are found here!

It’s mixed in with black sand, so it’s kind of a hybrid black/green sand beach which I thought was very cool and unique.

At first, you may struggle to see the green but continue to look around. There are some patches of sand where the green tinge is very evident, especially whenever the sun hits it right.

Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach green

If you look very closely at the sand you’ll see the green crystals shimmering.

Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach green
Richardson Ocean Park Black Sand Beach green

And just as a reminder, it’s illegal to take sand from this beach and from other beaches.

During our visit, a brilliant rainbow appeared in the distance which felt like the perfect send off since it was our last day on the Big Island.

Richardson Ocean Park rainbow

Snorkeling at Richardson Ocean Park

Snorkeling is very popular here largely because of the easy access. The entry point for the beach is very close to the parking lot and the entry point into the water is about as easy as it gets.

A small rocky staircase takes you onto a tiny black sand beach where you can backpedal your way with flippers into the water.

Richardson Ocean Park snorkeling
Richardson Ocean Park snorkeling

It’s worth noting that initially I did not see this staircase and I attempted to enter at some of the other beach areas where it’s pretty rocky.

I didn’t make it very far in before I abandoned my efforts because it was just too difficult to gauge what was underneath the waves.

Speaking of underneath the water…

Here’s what the actual snorkeling experience was like.

I mentioned some of the fresh water pools above. If you know anything about fresh spring water you know that it’s colder than the ocean. Much colder. While snorkeling, don’t be surprised to get hit with streams of cold spring water.

I went snorkeling here just shortly after sunrise so the sun was not quite out and those shots of spring water made it pretty chilly for me.

Had it been a little bit warmer outside or had the sun been out, it probably would’ve felt a lot better. So if you’re not a cold water person just be prepared for the cooler temps. They will certainly wake you up!

As far as the visibility and marine life, it wasn’t the most impressive during my snorkeling session. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed snorkeling but there was definitely a fair amount of sediment in the water. The sun being low on the horizon probably didn’t help much either.

And while I did see a decent array of fish, it wasn’t on par with something like Makalwena Beach. Interestingly, if you get lucky you might be able to see Monk Seals and turtles as they are known to make appearances.

Richardson Ocean Park snorkeling

One thing that I did think was really cool to see were the underwater mini black sand dunes. I was pretty new to black sand beaches and definitely new to seeing something like that.

Richardson Ocean Park snorkeling

The beach here is reportedly known for having a weak or nonexistent current but when I was snorkeling the surge and/or current were noticeable.

I remember a couple of times kicking pretty hard and not going anywhere. It wasn’t a big deal and I never felt unsafe but if you’re expecting perfectly calm water, it’s not quite always that calm.

Final word

Richardson Ocean Park is a special beach worth the visit for a few reasons.

First, I just loved the easy access into the water. So many snorkeling spots can be tricky and potentially scrape you up pretty good but at Richardson Ocean Park, getting in and out of the water with all of your snorkeling gear on could not be easier.

The sand here, while limited in real estate, was beautiful and that mixture of green and black was a unique site — perfect for anyone who is not able to make it to the green sand beach.

I thought the actual snorkeling was fun but the the visibility and wildlife diversity were not as good as some of the other beaches we visited, although to be fair those were located on the other side of the island.

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