Shore Diving Big Island & the top Big Island

Dive Sites along the Kona Coast

Finding the right place to go for shore diving Big Island can be hard if you don't know where to go. Kona is known for its rough lava covered beaches and coastline. Occasionally divers will attempt to dive from shore with mixed results. To save you time and hassle we cover top big island shore dive sites, where to go when to go, and what you will see at some of our better shore dive sites. Please keep in mind that based on conditions some of these sites will be difficult if not dangerous to dive. Please watch conditions before attempting to dive.

Top Big Island Shore

Diving & Dive Sites


  • Puako
  • Kua Bay
  • Kawaihae
  • Mahukona


  • Mile Marker 4
  • Old Airport
  • Kailua Pier


  • 2 Step


Kua Bay

Old Airport

Mile Marker 4


Shore Dive Site Swell

Height Recommendations

The best shore diving Big Island has is during the summer. From June - November most of these sites will be accessible much of the time. Summertime will often have a south swell that is less common in winter. During the winter we typically get a larger more consistent swell. Our recommendation is to avoid Kua Bay and Mile Marker 4 during the winter months. All of the dive sites listed here are affected to one degree or another by north through south swells from the western direction. Swells from the Northeast through southeast will have little to no effect on shore entry on the Kailua-Kona Coast because of the protection provided by the Big Island.

Mahukona - Faces North

  • Affected by: West through Northwest swells.
  • Look for: 4 feet or less

Puako - Faces North

  • Affected by: West through North swells.
  • Look for: 3 feet or less

Kua Bay - Faces West

*Typically not diveable during the winter*
  • Affected by: southwest through north swells
  • Look for 3 feet and less

Old Airport - Faces South

  • Affected by: west through south swells
  • Look for 2 feet or less

Kailua Pier - Faces South

  • Affected by: Southwest through West Swells
  • Look for 3 feet or less

Mile Marker 4 - Faces West

  • Affected by: Southwest through Northwest Swells
  • Look for 2 feet or less

2 Step (Honaunau) - Faces west

  • Affected by: west and southwest swells
  • Look for 3 feet and less

Kawaihae - Faces north west

  • Affected by: southwest through northwest swells
  • Look for 3 feet or less
  • Can get particularly low viz because of shallow muck so it’s best dove on a calm day

Swell Map

How to Check Ocean Conditions

For a detailed guide to checking Big Island ocean conditions check out our article.


What is Shore Diving in Kona Like?

The Big Island has tons of great diving along the vast majority of its coast. This is all accessible by boat, but most is not easily accessible from shore. There are a few select sites that have both a combination of easy to moderately easy entry and good diving. This page is intended to guide you toward selecting the safest and best shore diving sites on the big island of Hawaii. You may ask, why don’t you have any sites listed on the east side? Mainly the answer is the best diving is on the west side of the Big Island. There are a few sites on the east side that are suitable for diving however conditions are often not as nice. There are other sites not listed here but most are not suitable for most people due to the need to trespass or the difficult entry at the site. The lava ledges make for slippery propositions when attempting to enter by shore. Often times it is hard to see what you may be stepping on so sturdy boots are a highly recommended piece of safety equipment to help protect from sea urchins and other sharp critters. It’s also important to have a buddy that is capable and comfortable diving from shore. Have they dove from shore before? Have they been trained to dive from shore? Consider taking a rescue course. Rescue divers are trained to assess site conditions, preparedness, buddy’s abilities, and to handle emergencies should they arise. Some sites are less popular and so may not have help nearby. We have taken care to select sites that will more often have help nearby. When shore diving Big Island it is also recommended you have a phone, first aid kit, and O2 available in case of an accident. Some shore diving sites may not have parking available or other considerations like public showers. For more details and information watch the videos provided or come by the shop. We’d be happy to talk story about the shore diving options available. Some located less than a 5 minute drive from the shop. Each of the staff here at the shop has our own favorite dive site. We also have dive field guides and maps here for reference.


Reasons to shore dive versus boat dive

Seasickness is probably the number one reason people will choose shore diving Big Island rather than boat diving. When diving from shore the only possibility for seasickness is when you are diving! Most people will get seasick while surface swimming before their dive. Be prepared with medication.

Another reason is pace. Renting a set of shore diving gear and diving on your own time allows you to do as many dives at your preferred time as you like. You can sleep in, rent 2 tanks and go anytime untill the next day. Or you can do one dive, or 5 dives, it’s up to you!

Cost is another consideration. Renting a full set of gear can be less than going from a boat. However, a boat offers so much more that a shore dive will not. At Kona Honu Divers we offer a full set of rental gear set up and ready to put on your back for less than the cost of a shore set. Boat diving with Kona Honu Divers includes things like a free welcome offer, free nitrox/air, snacks, drinks, a camera rinse bucket, safety stop line, on-board medical equipment, valet dive service (you won’t have to lift gear), and a dive guide to show you all the hard to spot critters. A dive boat can pick dive sites that are well sheltered from swell that shore dive sites may not offer. For convenience a boat is tough to beat!

Shore diving Big Island allows you to go wherever you want if the swell is good enough to get in. If you really want to dive a specific site diving from shore gives you that option. Come by the shop to rent some of our high quality scuba and snorkel gear. We use atomic brand regulators in our rental and proactively maintain our rental gear so you’ll be sure to have well functioning high-end gear to dive with. This helps to ensure you won’t miss a dive with a broken piece of gear. It’s no fun to arrive at the dive site only to discover your regulator is free-flowing or your BCD is leaky. See you in the shop soon!