Wade in a Tide PoolBig Island

TIDE POOLS are MINI-ECOSYSTEMS boasting everything from moray eels to coral reef life and fish. These pools tend to be shallow with calm, clear waters for casual snorkeling or toe dipping, and Hawai‘i Island has numerous great spots to splash around.

KIKAUA POINT BEACH, near Kailua-Kona, is a kid-friendly option with a sand-bottom pool only around 3 feet deep. Arrive early, since there is limited parking, and check in with the golf resort’s security so that they can give you a hangtag and directions. Located on Kuki‘o Nui Road, near the 87-mile marker.

WAWALOLI BEACH is more of a SHELTERED SWIMMING HOLE, perfect for when the surf is high. This spot offers tide pools that boast fish, anemones and scuttling crabs. This beach park also features benches, trees, restrooms and plenty of space to picnic or rest, though it doesn’t have a lifeguard. It is located in Kalaoa on Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway, near the 94-mile marker.

WAIOPAE TIDE POOLS MARINE PRESERVE, south of Pahoa, isn’t exactly a sandy beach; instead, the area is a MAZE OF TIDE POOLS full of fish and sea life. It is rarely crowded, since it’s so far off the main drag. To get here from the Hilo side, head south on Highway 132, then go east on Highway 132 to Highway 137. After traveling a little more than a mile, turn east on Kapoho Kai Drive and follow signs to a small public parking lot and access point.

WARNING: Tide pools near the open ocean are fronted by powerful waves. Never turn your back on the ocean. Don’t walk on rocks that look wet near breaking surf. Bring shoes or sandals to wade, since lava rock can be sharp.