Snorkeling at Mahukona Beach

Mahukona Beach is unusual in more ways than one. For one, it is not a real beach, but an abandoned commercial harbor run by the Kohala Sugar Company (the harbor was closed in 1956). Remnants of the area’s enterprising past can still be found under water and are in fact one of its main attractions. The beach is not your typical Hawaiian paradise, but it’s definitely got charm.

The calm, clear waters make Mahukona a popular snorkeling spot. The underwater scene here is unique, featuring old mill equipment and machinery and even a shipwreck nestled inbetween beautiful coral reefs. Together, they make a most peculiar playground for the local marine life. Be sure to bring an underwater camera as this is one scene you certainly wouldn’t want to miss!

We like this site for many reasons, one being the easy accessible into the water from the harbor, but the shore is very rocky and can be hard to navigate. There is a great old iron ladder on the side of the wharf that you can climb back up from the water. The underwater visibility is usually excellent, except during times of rough ocean conditions (mainly during the winter months). During times of heavy surf, it is best to stay out of the water.


On our recent visit the water was normal surgy and visibility was really good. We saw a number of large schools of parrot fish and yellow tang along with several raccoon butterfly fish, black durgon, needle fish, orange-band surgeon fish, convict tang, brassy chub and the occasional moorish idol.

On our way back we couldn’t resist stopping at the Ultimate Hawaiian Donut truck which was parked at the turn off the beach park..with a name like that you gotta try one – right! These tasty morsels are actually “Malasadas” which are a Portuguese confection, made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. Ridiculously good as they were just made and were warm and surgery…it’s possible I might have erased the calories I burned snorkeling!!!



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