Diving on the Big Island Horizon Guest House – Captain Cook – Big Island – Hawaii

White Sea Urchin
The rare white sea urchin. Kona Coast. 40 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Diving in Hawaiian waters, whether it’s snorkelling or scuba, has always been regarded as one of the must-do diving experiences. But if you have ever dived in other locations around the world it may not be what you expect… *hint: it’s even better than you could imagine.

Nudibranch Big Island Horizon Guest House
Nudibranch. Big Island. 1 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

What’s different about diving in Hawaii?

The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most remote areas on earth. Not only are the islands isolated but the main Pacific Ocean currents do not intersect around the Hawaiian Island chain. This has meant that there hasn’t been the same current drift that other islands have had, and as a result the islands don’t have the same level of bio-diversity as some of the other island chains. In fact, we are missing the large amount of invertebrates found in other tropical waters.

Soft corals Kona Coast Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Soft corals. Cave diving, Kona Coast. 30 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Around all the Hawaiian Islands are steep drop-offs into deep water and because of this there are very few shallow reefs to harbor and protect the sensitive sea fans and soft corals.

Juvenile Frog Fish
Juvenile frog fish. Kona Coast. 30 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Having been a professional diver for many years, I was astounded when I first dived other tropical locations. When I dived in French Polynesia, in particular the Tahitian Islands, I was amazed to see the variety of marine life. Vast fringing reefs formed lagoons rich with colorful clams, soft corals, sea fans, shrimp and crabs.

Green Turtle Honaunau Big Island Horizon BnB
Green turtle. Honaunau, Kona Coast. 15 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

So what IS special about diving in Hawaii?

The Hawaiian Islands not only have indigenous and unique marine life, but of the known 24,000 species of fish in the world:

  • The Hawaiian Islands are home to over 1,100 species
  • Among this number, 149 are native to Hawaii (these include the Hawaiian Whitespotted Puffer and the Potter’s Angelfish)

Diving along the Kona Coast means you’ll be able to see over 40 percent of these native species of fish, almost all of the native corals, as well as the Hawaiian green sea turtle, and all just minutes from entering the ocean – and in as little as 5 feet of water!

Flame Angel Big Island Hawaii
The rare flame angel fish. Big Island. 40 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Safer Diving

Diving in the Hawaiian Islands is some of the safest diving in the world. There are no sea snakes, box jellyfish or other toxic creatures. The water is warm and clear and the currents are generally slow or non-existent.

Crown of Thorns Starfish
Crown of thorns starfish. Kona Coast. 25 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

The geology can be spectacular, with wondrous caves and beautiful drop-offs.

Manta Kona Coast Big Island Hawaii Horizon BnB
Clem with Manta. Kona Coast. 50 ft depth.

Deep water, pelagic sea creatures can be found relatively close to shore. These include manta rays, dolphins, and even giant whale sharks – don’t worry they’re not dangerous, they’re in fact a docile, plankton feeder. For more detail on the whale shark: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/bigfish.html

Tinker's butterfly Horizon Guest House Big Island
The rare tinker’s butterfly fish. Big Island. 135 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

And there’s always the famous humpback whale! You’re unlikely to encounter this mammal during a dive, but the spectacular displays topside, put on by the whales when they breach, is not to be missed if you happen to be on the island during ‘whale season’ (December to March).

Masked Butterfly Honaunau Big Island Horizon BnB
Masked butterfly fish. Honaunau, Kona Coast. 15 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Where to dive?

Horizon Guest House is just minutes from one of the best local snorkeling spots – Two Step. We also have masks and snorkels on hand for guests to use.

Big Island Divers

But if you’re looking for a more comphrensive diving and/or snorkeling experience we recommend Big Island Divers. Corrine and the team will help you decide on what experience best suits you, whether it’s snorkeling, either with dolphins or as part of a whale watching trip, or one of the many scuba diving packages. Don’t forget their legendary Kona Manta Ray Night Dive – it’s not to be missed!

For more information on Big Island Divers check out their website www.bigislanddivers.com  and their amazing Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bigislanddivershawaii/


For more details on Horizon Guest House:

• Check out our suites here

• Information on our rates are available here

• To make a booking use our contact form to make a reservation request

Top 5 must-see sights on the Big Island Horizon Guest House – Captain Cook – Big Island – Hawaii

Two Steps Captain Cook Horizon BnB Big Island
Two Steps

1. Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay & Two Steps

Snorkel both or just one – both are fantastic. Kealakekua Bay is one of the best places to snorkel in Hawaii. An easy drive from Horizon Guest House to either hike down to the Captain Cook monument and snorkel, or make a day of it on a commercial boat such as the Fair Wind snorkel cruise.

Just arrived and want to get in the water straight away? Two Steps is only minutes from Horizon Guest House. We have snorkels and masks on hand for you to use and you’ll be swimming with yellow tangs in no time.

Easy for beginners Two Steps is so-named because of the natural rock steps used to access the water.

Place of Refuge Big Island Horizon Guest House B&B Hawaii
Place of Refuge

Tip: Don’t forget to visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park (translated as Place of Refuge) on the left side of the bay.

2. Volcanoes National Park

Less than 1.5 hours away Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains some of the most unique geological, biological, and cultural landscapes in the world, including the summits of two of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

Volcano Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House Captain Cook

We recommend you make the visitor center your first stop on arrival to find out how active the volcanoes are and for the latest tips on the best vantage point. Whether it’s a crater rim drive and a stop at the Jagger Museum, or a serious hike on the newly re-opened (July 2019) trail in the Napau Crater area, there’s a lot to see and plenty happening at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Tip: Get there early and do the summit tour before 10am or after 3pm to avoid the crowds.

3. Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B

Go any time of day but to really experience the wonder of Mauna Kea it’s best to time your visit at dusk to enjoy the amazing sunset and then, on a clear night, the starry night sky! You’ll need to stop at the Visitor Information Station at 9,200 ft. to not only check the status of the summit but most importantly to adjust to the change in altitude – that’s right, being able to drive from sea level to the summit at 14,000 ft. in 2 hours means it’s important to acclimatize.

Make sure you allow enough time to get there – check with Clem on the timing and how to work it in to your day out – the summit opens half an hour before sunrise and closes half an hour after sunset. A stop to stargaze at the Visitor Information Station is a must – local volunteer astronomers set up telescopes outside of the station. Everyone gets the chance to use them for free.

Tip: Don’t forget your jacket! It gets cold up there, so warm clothes are a must – we have jackets on hand if you need one.

4. Waipi’o Valley

They filmed the end of the movie Waterworld here and when you visit it’ll feel like stepping into another world. Meaning curved water in Hawaiian, Waipi’o Valley is a magical place which can be enjoyed from the jaw-dropping scenic lookout or you can explore the valley on foot, or with a guided tour.

Waipi'o Valley Big Island Horizon Guest House Hawaii

Hike into the valley and down to the black sand beach and back in less than seven miles. For the more adventurous try the Muliwai Trail on the other side of the valley – you’ll need to camp out for this one.

Whether it’s the wild horses, pristine waterfalls, or the wild black sand beach, it’s worth making Waipi’o Valley a stop on your Big Island itinerary.

Tip: Parking is fairly limited, so either come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowd.

5. Hāpuna Beach

Hapuna Beach Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B

White sand beach, turquoise water – it’s the quintessential Hawaiian beach and it’s here on the Big Island. An easy drive from Horizon Guest House Hāpuna beach is half a mile long, often sun-drenched, and is shaded with trees and a picnic pavilion.

Tip: Arrive early to find a good park and a shaded spot on the beach.

5 ½. Circle the Big Island

So we cheated – just a tiny bit. It’s hard to squeeze the best into a top 5 and your trip to the Big Island wouldn’t be complete without a road trip around the island. Check with Clem on his itinerary recommendations and how to make it work best with your stay.


For more details on Horizon Guest House:

• Check out our suites here

• Information on our rates are available here

• To make a booking use our contact form to make a reservation request