Two Step Beach – Snorkeling an Underwater Paradise

Known for its clear waters, Two Step Beach has an abundance of marine life including colorful fish and sea turtles. The beach gets its name from the natural lava rock formations that create convenient ‘steps’ for entering the water.

aerial drone view of two step beach honaunau bay

Situated right at Honaunau Bay, Two Step Beach is known for its crystal-clear water and variety of sea creatures – everything from tropical fish to dolphins and monk seals.

However, visiting Two Step Beach can seem daunting at first – the parking situation is a little complicated, and getting in the water isn’t very straightforward.

We went snorkeling at Two Step Beach to figure out where you can park, the best way to get in and out of the water, and where to go to see the underwater wildlife.

So put on your snorkel and take two steps right into the ocean, we’re exploring this world-class underwater paradise!

Two Step Beach Details

  • Beach type: Hard lava rock coastline. Small sandy cove on the left side.
  • Hike-in required: No
  • Surfing: No
  • Snorkeling/Diving: Yes, excellent. No equipment rentals, you need to bring your own.
  • Kayaking/Paddleboarding: Yes
  • Permits/Fees: None
  • Parking: Limited free parking on the road near the beach, or a $5 lot right next to the beach.
  • Restrooms: Portable toilets
  • Other facilities: Park benches, boat ramp
  • Lifeguard: None
  • Showers: None

How to Get to Two Step Beach

Two Step Beach is located at Honaunau Bay on Honaunau Beach Road.

The bay is right next to Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. So if you’re into Hawaiian history, check out Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau before or after your snorkel.

Parking at Two Step Beach

Parking at Two Step can be difficult, especially if you don’t get there early in the morning.

There are a few parking spots right in front of the beach, but those are usually taken early in the morning by boaters.

Another option is to park on the side of Honaunau Beach Rd and walk to the beach. Just make sure that you respect the neighborhood by not parking in anybody’s yard or blocking their driveway.

You can also pay $5 to park at St. Benedict’s Church Ground. The church’s parking lot is right across the road from Two Step and is the closest place to the beach to park.

st benedicts church 5 dollar parking lot at two step beach
The St. Benedicts Church Ground charges $5 for parking in their lot next to Two Step Beach. Pretty good deal if you ask us!

There is an uncle at the St. Benedict’s Church Ground that collects your $5 to park in their lot.

We figured that $5 was a minimal price to pay to be right next to the beach. Plus, we had some peace of mind knowing that the parking lot was being watched by uncle. So we parked our car, handed a $5 bill to uncle, and went on our way!

Why Is It Called Two Step?

The beach gets its name from the two rocky steps used to enter and exit the ocean.

Diagram showing the rocky two steps at Two Step Beach Hawaii
The two steps on the rocks are used by swimmers, snorkelers, and divers to get in and out of the water.

The two steps are located right in the middle of the rocky area at the beach. If you walk along the rocks, you’ll quickly find them since it’s the easiest place to get in and out of the water.

If you go to the beach during the middle of the day, you’ll see people congregate near the two steps as they enter and exit the water.

Snorkelers and divers love the two steps since they allow them to take a step down, put on their fins, then take the second step right into the water!

One thing to remember is that the second step has tons of wana (sea urchins) embedded within the rock. So you’ll need to be careful when stepping on the second step when you get in and out of the water.

Pokey sea urchins embedded within the second step at Two Step Beach
The second step is embedded with tons of pokey sea urchins… watch your step!

If you have fins or water shoes, you shouldn’t have any problems since your feet will be covered. But if you swim barefoot, then be careful not to stick your heels or toes into the gaps within the rock – or else you’ll get stabbed by a pokey sea urchin!

Snorkeling at Two Step Beach

Once you get in the water, you’ll notice right away how clear it is.

The reef in the bay is in pretty good shape, so there are lots of places to explore and tons of fish and coral to see.

Chloe snorkeling at Two Step Beach Reef

The water is about 12-15 feet deep in most of Two Step, and it gradually gets deeper the further you go out.

The best place to snorkel at Two Step is on the left side – that’s where sea turtles like to hang out and the reef has the most interesting shapes.

Remember to be careful and not swim too close to the rocks or else the ocean current might push you into the reef!

If you’re looking for a safer place to snorkel, the right side of Two Step is a bit shallower – so it’s perfect for beginners and kids.

Once you get to the large sandy area on the right side of the bay, the water is about 30-40 feet deep. You’ll be greeted by a large “ALOHA” (or what’s left of it) made out of rocks and concrete blocks.

Just past the ALOHA sign, the sea floor drops off considerably and the ocean gets extremely deep. We didn’t explore much further than that since there wasn’t much to see in the deep blue ocean.

When you’re ready to get out of the ocean, you’ll need to be patient and time the waves to give you a “push” out of the water.

The first step out of the water is near the surface, so unless you have tons of upper body strength (we don’t) you’ll need to use the ocean’s tide to lift you onto the step.

Chloe made the mistake of swimming toward the left side of the bay to try and get out near the boat ramp. It was a solid idea – but she found that the shallow water was difficult to swim in and there were pokey wana (sea urchins) all over the rocks. So she ended up taking a much harder route rather than just timing her climb out of the water at the two steps.

What Kind of Sea Creatures Are at Two Step Beach?

Two Step Beach has tons of fish, coral, and sea urchins. Green sea turtles and spinner dolphins are also regularly spotted at Two Step.

Here are the kinds of sea creatures you might find while snorkeling at Two Step Beach:

  • Various reef fish (Yellow Tang, Raccoon Butterflyfish, Trumpetfish, Pufferfish, etc.)
  • Green sea turtles
  • Spinner dolphins
  • Monk seals
  • Reef sharks (don’t worry, they are not aggressive toward humans)
Yellow tang fish at Two Step Beach reef
Yellow tangs are among the most common and visible fish at Two Step Beach. They’re everywhere!

The best place for finding sea turtles at Two Step is on the left side of the reef – the turtles like to swim down to the seabed and eat seaweed.

If you want to find dolphins, you’ll need to swim much farther out into the bay where the sea floor drops off and the water gets extremely deep.

Even though you can find all sorts of wildlife in the waters of Two Step, keep your distance from them:

Is There Sand at Two Step Beach?

The only sandy area at Two Step Beach is the cove on the left side. However, the cove is very small and only has space for one or two groups. So if you’re looking for a chill lounge day on a sandy beach, look elsewhere.

There are also some sandy areas in the reef – but the sand is deep underwater.

In fact, the lack of sand at Two Step is one of the reasons why the water is so clear. The rocky coastline around the bay means that there isn’t a lot of sand or debris floating around in the ocean.

Two Step Beach – Our Verdict

If you’re looking for clear waters, a variety of ocean wildlife, and plenty of reef to explore for both beginner and experienced snorkelers, then Two Step is your place!

However, Two Step Beach tends to get crowded during the day – so get there early in the morning to beat the crowds and secure a parking spot.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the two steps that are used to get in and out of the water can be a bit tricky to navigate – so we don’t recommend this spot for first-time snorkelers.

Trey Lewis is an outdoor enthusiast. Whether its hiking knife-edge ridges or just fishing by the river, Trey isn't afraid to get dirty in search of the next adventure.

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