Overview of Kukio Bay

Kukio Bay

The Big Island
Hawaiian Islands


Introduction and directions by Joshua Goode:

This site will involve a lengthy surface swim to the edge of the drop-off point where the reef can be accessed. The general slope of the bay becomes more shallow as you go north and deeper as you go south. I would consider this dive worth the surface swim to the drop-off point if the surf is not high, if it is I would abort your plan to dive this site as it will tucker you out. With surf there is also some current, so expect to fight some current on your way out to the drop-off point, once you reach the drop-off point the current is not bad.


1. Directions from Kailua-Kona. The dive-site is accessible via the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu. Pull up to the guard-station and ask for a beach pass for Kukio Beach, turn left immediately after the guard-station and drive to the end of the road.

2. The road leads behind the guard-station and ends at a partially shaded parking lot with nice rest-rooms and outdoor showers mounted on the outside of the restroom building. There is an obvious paved and boarded trail at the end of the road that takes you directly to the beach, it is not a difficult walk, even with heavy gear. Take the trail until you see an exit on your left that leads you directly onto the sand.

3. You can setup on a picnic table that is on the beach, located close to the trail. Once you are setup walk to the center of the Bay with your gear and there should be a less painful entry point over lava rocks and urchins. Otherwise enter to the right, as there is a deep break in the lava that allows for easy access to deeper water, but be prepared for the surface swim of your life.

4. The Reef and actual dive site starts far from shore, if you enter the water at the center of the bay then simply swim out in a WSW direction and eventually you will reach the dropoff to a beautiful reef. You can see the dropoff point on the map. If you entered near the picnic table then you have quite a long surface swim in the south-west direction to the dropoff point.

The Topology of this bay is as follows: Towards the North side of the bay you will never get deeper than 12 feet and you will find a little bit of coral and fish and lots of golf balls. Towards the Center of the bay are concrete blocks with lots of coral and fish on them, depth gets to 15 to 18 feet deep. If you head towards the South end of the bay it drops off at a wall to about 40 feet and slopes deeper as you go further away from shore.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

04/30/2009 Anonymous (Avg: 4.21 Review) - What a great place to dive and snorkel. The area has been somewhat more developed since the picture but the facilities are really great and as previous divers have indicated, great beach and place to hang out for the day. If you have snorkelers with you, they can have fun too. Highly recommend. Our visited included turtles, octopus, clams, eels and a multitude of fish species.

01/04/2008 Gerald Zemke (Avg: 3.41 Review) - Very nice, but we need an updated picture with entrances and dive indicators. "The best entrance is as described…" The entrance is unrecognizable as described as all facilities have been completed and from the ground it has a different look. I did select several good dive entrances. We didn't get to dive since we found this site on our last day (my dive buddy had the flu and my family had to fly the same day). I would like to know exactly were the two previous site reviewers dove. I live in Hilo on the big island and have logged my 44th dive here this year . I can't wait to get back here. Kuhio Bay will be my next dive.

08/03/2004 Barry Fackler (Avg: 3.35 Review) - My wife and I love to dive here in the summer although it takes some resolve to surface swim out to the drop-off. The water in the small cove remains between 2 and 4 feet for a long way out and only begins to get deeper as you approach the mini-wall. Going in at high tide is a good idea. There is a wonderful lava tube that can be accessed by descending through a skylight located between the two rocks breaking the surface farthest from shore. The tube is packed with Big Scale Soldier fish and also hosts Slipper Lobster, various eels and several uncommon Blue Dragon nudibranchs. Outside the tube, you can turn either left or right along the wall and have a good dive and never getting deeper than 50 feet. Going to the right will lead you to a shallower, sandy area where we've seen Spotted Eagle Rays as well as big Horned Helmet shells. Going to the left takes you slightly deeper and there are lots of overhangs on the wall where Green Sea Turtles can be found sleeping. Out this way we have run into Blue fin Trevally, Whitetipped Reef Sharks, and, on one occasion, a Manta. The big draw is the macro invertebrate life that is found here - lots of shells, crabs and nudibranchs. The surface intervals are spent on a truly gorgeous beach that is uncrowded and well-maintained. The bathrooms are always clean and have the deluxe motion sensor type toilets and sinks. Luxury shore diving by Big Island standards! Outside the restrooms are showers to rinse off your gear and yourselves. This is a great place to take a picnic lunch and spend the day diving and relaxing.

05/13/2004 John Stewart (Avg: 3.83 Review) - Dove there on 5/9/04. Entrance is unmarked road directly opposite Kukio Nui Road around mile marker 87. Road goes thru 8 to 10 foot high stone wall to a unmarked guard house 150 feet in. The guards go out of their way in helpfulness. They give you one of the limited 30 guess passes and lead you to this public beach area that is within this private community. The best dive access is at the end of the parking lot crossing the lava rocks to the bay as pictured. The best entrance is as described, however it is not for a novice. Although there is a small effective breakwater formed from rocks, entry from shore to this rock structure and around it to the open water needs to be timed in between the wave action. Once in the water, I pulled myself by rock-holds on my belly out the rocks to time my dash to open water. You need good timing, a strong kick and confidence. There is another more moderate entrance at the opposite side but it involves a 150 yd walk with your equipment over the lava. Great healthy coral, depths of 15 to 45 ft. Saw a Snowflake moray and many reef fishes. No big fish. Going straight out then turning left and back along the shore we found two swim thru lava tubes and many channels. One tube was 15 yards long. Straight out and to the right had many overhangs and channels. I'd vote for left. This is an ideal dive site for a scuba diver and a non-diver buddy or even kids. At the end of the parking lot some 100 yards down an winding path is a great protected sand beach cove that only gets 3 to 4 feet deep with no waves. While you cannot get to the open water from there. I'd love to take my small children to swim there. The beach also offers Men's and Ladies room, 2 showers and a water fountain.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)



Aerial at Kukio Bay 

This site was recently submitted by Barry Fackler -- We happened to have an aerial of the area; more photos to follow! Here's a comment from Barry: The bit of golf course to the right is part of the Hualalai Four Seasons resort. The sandy area on the left is what I described in my previous e-mail. We make our entry in the small cove that is around a 4th of the way across the picture.

Last Verification: November, 2003  


Diver Averages for  Kukio Bay  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  2.75
Bottom Conditions:  3.50
Reef Conditions:  4.25
Animal Life:  3.50
Plant Life:  2.75
Facilities:  4.75
Solitude 4.75
Roads:  5.00
*Site Average:  3.70

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.50
Beginner Scuba:  2.75
Intermediate Scuba:  3.25
Advanced Scuba:  3.75
Night diving Scuba:  2.75

Number of reviews for this site: 4


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