Snorkeling Old Airport in Kona, Big Island
by Tim M.
The snorkeling at the Old Airport in Kona is not to be missed. You feel a little bad about being able to see it for free when you notice the Body Glove boat full of paying customers pulling up to the site, but hey, maybe they should have done some research.
The site does take some effort to get to. Once you park at the end of the old runway and walk north onto the little beach, continue walking north on the lava flow. It is totally do-able in flip flops unless your feet are unusually tender, and the walk takes maybe 20 minutes and requires a little scrambling. Before going all the way out there, look at the waves. If the lava is taking a pounding, you won't want to be doing this. The water does not have to be flat, however, it's just that you need to be able to climb back up out of the water without risking being crushed. Another note: if you do not have the strength to lift yourself out of the water, you might want to be one of those people paying body glove for a ride and a ladder.
After 20 minutes you will come to a nice little beach and a murky lagoon. This is the spot, and though it might seem like a good entry spot, do not enter the lagoon; it's not. In fact, the beach is private, so don't go there either. If you stay to the left you will see where the lagoon empties out to sea, and just left of that is a cleft in the lava that is your entry and exit spot. The opening to the lagoon can have huge water flow, so be aware of it. If you had entered through the lagoon and the tide changed during your dive, you might not be able to get through the channel and back out. The best stuff is to the right, out against the wall, out to the point. The wall is dramatic with arches in some places. Crown of thorn starfish are abundant, and there are ledges and overhangs to explore. The visibility is usually good due to the depth, and unlike many of the places in Kona, I don't remember a lot of fresh water seeping out and making the vis look oily. This one is sort of off the radar, so if Body Glove isn't there you might have it to yourself. Be safe and enjoy!