Kapoho Tide Pools, Pahoa

4.5
#2 of 10 in Things to do in Pahoa
Swim and snorkel through vibrant coral when you visit Kapoho Tide Pools. Lower yourself into one of the pools, and float around to see numerous brightly colored fish. Be careful getting in, as the rocks can be slippery. Explore crevices in the rocks to see the fish swimming around, or just float and enjoy the water, which is volcanically heated and generally quite warm. Visitors are urged not to touch the coral or wear fins, as it kills the coral, but the pools are calm enough to explore without them. Take note that no public restrooms are available. A visit to Kapoho Tide Pools represents just the start of the adventure when you use our Pahoa trip planner to plot your vacation.
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Kapoho Tide Pools Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
688 reviews
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4.6
TripAdvisor
  • What a great way to spend sometime watching fish and the waves. This is a great learning experience for kids and terrific snorkeling. Plus, it’s free!  more »
  • The sun kept coming and out and the water was warm! Huge variety of fishes to watch for. The water was nice and calm since the pools are protected from the ocean itself.  more »
  • Very good place for snorkeling with kids, and also many activities and things to do with the kids. This is a hidden gem in the island.  more »
Google
  • Snorkel paradise. Amazingly beautiful with so many fish and coral, you just don't know where to look. Getting in the water can be a bit tricky so water shoes will definitely help. And be aware that there's not much parking space nearby, so prepare for a walk. But it is worth it. If you want to avoid the crowds come end of day.
  • Be prepared to walk about a half mile from the parking area (recommended $3 donation for parking). The shallow tide pools are great for new snorkelers that permit seeing a variety of fish in the comfort of the shallows. Unfortunately these shallow tide pools have little coral remaining due to the amount of reckless snorkelers that have destroyed the reef by standing/walking on it. More experienced snorkelers can venture through the breakers to explore a much healthier reef supporting abundant marine life. Would only recommend doing so when the tide is high and conditions are calm and ONLY IF YOU can snorkel continuously without having to stop to stand to take breaks or clear water from your mask/snorkel.
  • This is probably the best coral I've seen snorkeling on the big island, but it's also one of the most difficult places I've ever been snorkeling. I'm a pretty experienced snorkeller (the first time I went snorkeling, I was too young to recall how old I was, and I'm now a full grown adult), so trust me when I say this place is a pretty stressful snorkel. I'm not sure if there's some guidebook that says this is good for beginning snorkelers (there seem to be lots of people in this category at this spot), but it definitely is NOT. If you're not a confident swimmer, you probably shouldn't snorkel here. If you feel like you need a floaty noodle or fins to feel safe and confident, you probably shouldn't snorkel here. If you aren't comfortable walking on slick/sharp/unstable lava and swimming in confined places, you probably shouldn't snorkel here. Now that the warnings are out of the way, let me try to explain what this place is like and why it's so hard. There's a network of about a dozen small and shallow tide pools that have varying amounts of fish and coral and algae in them. None of them are more than about 5 feet deep, and in most places are less than 2 feet deep. Pretty much everywhere underwater more than about 6 inches is covered in coral trying to grow. It may not seem like it, since baby coral doesn't look at all like bigger coral, but pretty much anything that isn't the same jet black lava rock as the rock above the water line has something living on it. So, if you're trying to be a responsible snorkeller, you should try to avoid touching pretty much anything underwater, which makes getting in and out especially challenging, even if you're able to navigate around without pulling yourself along with your hands on the ground. I would recommend leaving the fins at home and generally relying on your arms to swim, since otherwise you're pretty certain to kick something at some point. I know it may seem like I'm being a little bit over the top with this warning, but most of the pools closer to the shore seem like they probably used to have a lot more coral in them that has been destroyed by people walking through the pools or using their hands to move around, and I've seen numerous people walking/sitting in areas that seem like baby coral trying to grow, and it definitely makes me worried that at this rate, this could all be gone sometime. Once you get farther out past all of the pools closer to the shore (there's no good entry point out there, you pretty much have to navigate through a lot of shallow water to get there), it deepens out some to enormous and beautiful coral formations. There's some pretty rough waves out there, and they push you in towards the rocky shallows, so it's still not easy, but it is pretty amazing. There's not a ton of fish here compared to other places on the island, but they are very large, and there's a ton of sea cucumbers, though the main attraction is the large amount and variety of vibrant coral. It is worth mentioning that this place is probably at least somewhat easier if you're at a full on high tide, but unless you're staying in a cottage nearby you probably can't pick your timing that exactly. It is spectacular coral, but please don't go if you're not sure you can enjoy it without hurting the coral.
  • Not quite what we expected but still lots of of fun to snorkel around and check out the holes and underwater caves all around. It's a short 10 minute walk from the parking area and easy to find. Bring snorkeling gear and reef shoes, the rock is very slippery and super sharp. We went later during the day and it can get cold with the wind. Over all a great stop on our way to see the lava!
  • This place is awesome! Good for all ages. short walk to the beach. Lots of places to explore and areas to snorkel! One of our favorites on the island. :)

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