There are beaches in Hawaii filled with Resort Hotels, nearby shopping centers, showers,
bathrooms, lifeguards and a mile or a mile or more of white, sandy beaches. Honaunau Beach & Bay is just the opposite. It does have a very small and tiny and crowded beach, has no hot dog snack stands, no pina colada locations, has no running water, port-a-potty restrooms, and is pretty much the only amenities are a few picnic tables. Yet, “2-Step” as the locals call it, is visited by thousands every year, and for good
reason: it offers incredible access to Hawaii’s aquatic life.
Where Is Honaunau Bay?
Adjacent to Honaunau National Historic Park, on the Big Island of Hawaii, “2 Step” is
diving and snorkeling paradise, surrounded by acres of volcanic rock on the Northern
side of the bay.
Why is “2-Step” Popular?
Thousands of brightly colored aquatic fish, hundreds of Hawaiian spinner dolphins, sea urchins, a green sea turtle or two, coral reefs, that old-world Hawaiian feel of
where the volcanic lava rock meets the sea, the nearby and historic, city of Refuge,
and access to the lively city of Kailua Kona, and the Nearby National Park are just a few of the things that make a visit to 2-Step a fantastic experience.
Nearby you learn to dive, (and subsequently, go on diving tours in the Bay) rent snorkel gear, and perhaps snag a few provisions, but be prepared to bring and ice-chest, plenty of water, food and soft drinks, and above all, SPF suntan lotion, as the temperature, the sun and the water plays havoc with your skin.
There are a few stores such as the Fujihara Store, a few miles away, but the best
thing to do is come prepared ahead of time.
What To Do in 2-Step?
First know your limits. 2-Step is aptly named because there is an area of lava where a natural 2-stop process will naturally help people wanting to entered the water.
That being said, be sure and wear sea shoes or sea socks to cushion your feet on the razor-sharp lave. And before you even go, unless you are an expert swimmer in strong, physical shape, check the water condition reports ahead of time. Because the water can get quite rough. Less than physically fit adults and children will seriously need some help getting in the water as they time their entry with the oncoming waves.
That said, the 2-Step area offers the best Big Island Snorkeling, and many say the best overall Hawaiian snorkeling experience you can find. Reefs of coral can be found
at a depth of around 10 feet, and be assured, whether you are sitting on a small lave
bed near the surface, or just swimming about, you will see an amazing variety of colorful fish.
In the deeper water in the bay, which descends to about 100 feet that’s when you are likely to encounter spinner dolphins. These amazing creatures feed during the evening and during the day, spend their time leisurely swimming around, while part of their brain shuts off to give them rest.
Snorkelers and divers report that sometimes they are swimming with up to 20 or more dolphins at a time, making for a memorable, aquatic experience.
Besides the 2-Step area, many visitors spend up to two or three hours at historic Pu uhonua o Honaunau National Park, a site that ancient Hawaiians, having violated Hawaiian law, went and were relieved of their sins by a priest. There are also
hand-crafted displays, a gift shop, restrooms, and a small bay where lots of sea turtles and fish hang out.
Ther are also a lovely, historic painted church, a lovely, beekeeping tour, a fantastic botanical garden, a multi-dimensional healing experience called a Gong bath, and a living history farm all within a few miles of 2-Step.
Parking at 2-Step
If you want free-parking by the road, you need to arrive plenty early, like around 7 a.m. or so. But there is plenty of paid parking, and here, expect to pay the grand sum of $5, which in comparison to many beaches in Hawaii that charge nearly that much per hour, makes 2-Step a real bargain.
If you want to stay a couple of days, don’t expect to find a resort hotel nearby. Plan on traveling around 12 miles to Kona to book a Westin, Sheraton or another top-notch hotel.
How to Get There?
Heading on Hiway 11 from Kona, after about 20 miles, look for the Honaunau Post Office and turn right onto Highway 160. Follow this for 3.5 miles till you see the entrance to the park. Right before entering the park, there is a one-way road leading to 2-step.