Snorkeling Kahalu’u Beach Park

Kahaluu-bay Kona 2
Photo credit: lovebigisland.com

Kahalu’u Beach Park is one the most popular snorkeling spots on the Big Island of Hawaii. While we recommend Two Step and Kealakekua Bay as two of the best, Kahaluʻu Bay has its own charm.

The beach park is located in calm water only minutes drive south of Kailua-Kona. Its easy location makes it the perfect place to snorkel if you are staying near Ali’i Drive, or in one of the hotels around the waterfront.

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Photo credit: Kahalu‘u Bay Education Center

The bay itself is well-protected by a fringing reef, providing safe, calm waters for your snorkeling adventure. The water is relatively shallow, at about 4-5 feet deep. Green sea turtles are often seen in the bay as they like to sun themselves on the rocks.

Some of the sea life you might see when snorkeling include: sea urchins, octopus, eels, turtles, and of course plenty of tropical fish such as yellow tang, parrotfish, rainbow fish, and more.

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Photo credit: wanderwisdom.com

Take care to snorkel in the south part of the bay. Traditionally, the north part of the bay is where surfers congregate. But there’s plenty of room for snorkelers and surfers alike! 

Free parking is available at the beach park. There are also picnic tables, showers and bathrooms, and snorkel rentals. Lifeguards are on duty from 9:30am–4:45pm every day.

Keep in mind that this is a very popular snorkeling destination because of its accessibility to downtown Kona. During the busy season (Nov-Mar) it can get crowded. Your best strategy is to arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. The ocean will be at its most calm first thing in the morning before the wind changes to onshore. 

The best snorkeling is found in the cove directly out from where you first enter the water. The water is a little clearer further out, due to the fresh groundwater that comes up through the sand near the shoreline causing a blurry effect in the water.

Photo credit: paradiseinhawaii.com

When the tide goes out there are plenty of shallow tide pools to explore in amongst the rocks. The park also has large pavilions for added shade and the beach park is the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch. Don’t have a car? The beach park is close enough to Kailua-Kona you can walk to it (if you’re staying nearby), cycle to it, or make use of the Kona Trolley! 

If your stay on the Big Island is limited then a short trip to Kahaluʻu Beach Park for snorkeling is well worth it. Make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds, and before the parking lot begins to fill up! 

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Key Lime Pie with Almond Macadamia Nut Crust

Key Lime Pie is a classic and we decided to make it with a twist! We had some guests that were gluten-free so the challenge was to create a tasty crust without the gluten. The answer was a combination of almond flour and roasted ground macadamia nuts.

The Key Lime Pie filling recipe is courtesy of Vaughn Vreeland at The New York Times.

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST

    • 6 oz macadamia nuts
    • 1 cup almond flour
    • A pinch of salt
    • 1/3 cup of sugar
    • 2/3 of a stick of butter

FOR THE FILLING

    • 1(14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1 tablespoon fresh finely grated Key lime zest and ½ cup juice*
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), or ¼ teaspoon table salt

Instructions

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare the crust: Lightly roast the macadamia nuts [300 degrees for about 10 minutes] – grind up using Cuisinart. Add almond flout, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup regular sugar and pulse to combine. Add 2/3 of a stick of melted butter and pulse to combine.

Turn out into a pie or tart pan (I used a tart pan with removable bottom) and press to even out bottom and sides. Use a square sided measuring cup to help smooth it out.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes, until the color begins to deepen slightly. Cool completely.

While the crust cools, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, yolks, lime zest and salt. Add the lime juice and whisk until evenly combined and noticeably thicker, about 1 minute.

*I juiced one lemon first into the measuring cup, then juiced the balance from regular limes to make the 1/2 cup of juice. The zest was only from the limes.

(You may be tempted to prepare the curd in advance, but don’t do so more than 5 minutes before baking, as the lime juice may cause the mixture to curdle.)

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the curd is set at the edges and slightly jiggly in the middle. Transfer to a rack to cool completely at room temperature, about 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

We hope you enjoyed making this delicious twist on the classic Key Lime Pie!

How did your pie turn out? Let us know in the comments below.

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