We spent day 4 of our Big Island road trip stopping by popular spots in Kona. We started the day with lunch at Da Poke Shack, visited a number of beaches in Kona, and ended our day with dinner at Broke Da Mouth Grindz.
- Lunch at Da Poke Shack
- Magic Sands Beach
- Honaunau Bay (Two Step Beach)
- Kahaluʻu Beach (Keauhou)
- Dinner at Broke Da Mouth Grindz
Lunch at Da Poke Shack
Da Poke Shack consistently shows up on the list of best places to eat on the Big Island and for good reason. Da Poke Shack is a casual, take-out spot whose menu spotlights traditional Hawaiian and poke dishes. True to its name, the star of the show here is their poke. My personal favorites were the Shack Special poke with crab salad and seaweed salad as sides. Always fresh and tasty, their poke sells out daily so make sure to get there early to grab a bite and avoid long wait times.
Magic Sands Beach
The first beach we stopped by was Magic Sands Beach, which is located less than 5 minutes away from Da Poke Shack. Magic Sands Beach is a white sand beach that can “magically” disappear overnight when the tides get too high. The shore break attracts surfers, boogie boarders, or strong swimmers who enjoy riding the waves. It also fills up with beachgoers who come to enjoy the soft, white sand in a conveniently located spot. The beach has a number of amenities including bathrooms, picnic tables, and outdoor showers and there is even a lifeguard on duty.
Is there snorkeling at Magic Sands Beach?
We didn’t know this but no, there isn’t! Due to the strong current here which makes for harder swimming conditions and poor visibility, Magic Sands Beach is not suitable for snorkeling. I personally would skip Magic Sands Beach unless you’re nearby and have time to kill. There are plenty of other beaches to explore on the Big Island that are more picturesque and suited for lounging on the beach.
TIME SPENT: 5 minutes
Honaunau Bay (Two Step Beach)
Even though Kahaluʻu Beach is super close to Magic Sands (less than 5 minutes away), we actually drove to Honaunau Bay (also referred to as Two Step Beach) first to spend time there before the rain came through. We’re so glad we did because Two Step Beach ended up being one of our favorite Big Island beaches for snorkeling.
Why is it called Two Step Beach?
Honaunau Bay gets the nickname Two Step Beach from its lava rock entry point that’s been worn down by the surf to create a two-step ledge into the water.
The bay is overlooked by the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, which translates to “place of refuge at Honaunau.” Here, lawbreakers who would otherwise have to the ultimate price for their crimes could find sanctuary. Now the park remains a well-preserved part of Hawaiian history where visitors can learn about the past, relax on the pahoehoe, and snorkel in its waters.
How to Get to Two Step Beach
You can find directions to Two Step beach by typing “Two Step” into Google Maps. There’s no official parking lot for Two Step Beach so you can either pay for parking near the lava rocks or along the one-way street, which is a few minutes’ walk away.
Tips for Snorkeling at Two Step Beach
The bay is protected, which makes for calm and clear snorkeling conditions on most days. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before snorkeling Two Steps:
- First and foremost, always check the forecast to assess snorkeling conditions. Because the entry point for Two Step is right on the water, it can be dangerous if the winds pick up to create large swells.
- Leave your flip flops face down to prevent it from becoming scalding hot when you get out of the water. Since there’s no beach, you’ll have to leave your stuff out on the lava rocks which can get super hot from sun exposure.
- Put your snorkel mask and fins on while you’re sitting down on the first step. Then, move down to the second step before swimming away. Doing this sequentially will allow you to time your entrance with the surge. Use the surge to lift yourself back up onto the second step when exiting.
- The right side is better for beginners, though the reefs aren’t as vibrant on the right side. While you’ll spot many varieties of fish and coral, the highlight of the right side is the “Aloha” written in cement blocks in the sand.
- The left side is more challenging but more rewarding. The waters here are a little deeper but you’ll generally find many varieties of fish, colorful coral, and turtles. You might even come across resting spinner dolphins if you venture to the outer edges of the bay.
While we didn’t see any turtles or dolphins, we nevertheless saw tons of fish the whole time we were swimming which is why Two Step Beach is one of our favorites for snorkeling.
TIME SPENT: 1.5 hours
Kahaluʻu Beach (Keauhou)
We drove about 30 minutes back to where we started our day and headed to Kahaluʻu Beach, located 5 minutes from downtown Kona. You can easily find Kahalu’u Beach Park on Google Maps, which will take you to the paid parking lot near the snorkeling area. At the beach, you’ll find bathrooms, tables, and a lifeguard on duty.
Since we ended up getting to Kahaluʻu in the afternoon, the snorkeling conditions were worse. Visibility was poor and we only saw a small number of fish, most of which were the same as the ones we saw at Two Step. The main highlight for us here was seeing a turtle swim past us amidst the cloudy waters. Otherwise, Kahaluʻu Beach was a letdown after such an animated snorkeling trip at Two Step.
If you plan on visiting, I’d recommend coming in the morning for peak visibility and ocean conditions. Having read great reviews of snorkeling at Kahaluʻu Beach, I would personally visit one more time in hopes of experiencing a comparably brilliant snorkeling trip.
TIME SPENT: <1 hour
Dinner at Broke Da Mouth Grindz
We showered and relaxed for a bit before heading back out to dinner. We had heard about Broke Da Mouth Grindz from watching a number of Hawaii vlogs and decided to check it out.
Broke Da Mouth Grindz is a casual eatery that melds Filipino, Hawaiian, and American flavors together with a unique twist. Their claim to fame is the garlic furikake chicken, which was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
I ordered the garlic furikake chicken plate with a side of macaroni salad, both of which I enjoyed. I thought the chicken was flavorful and the macaroni salad tasty, though it’s hard for me to dislike mac salad. The downside was that our chicken was a bit salty and overcooked. Overall, we didn’t think it was worth the hype but worth trying once.