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Kiholo Bay

The brilliant turquoise waters of this stunning bay are a cooling invitation on a warm Kohala day, and a new gravel road to the shoreline makes it an absolute must-see (it's still slow going, but in the past you had to hike over lava for 20 minutes). The shore is rocky and the water's a bit cold and hazy, but there are tons of green sea turtles in residence year-round. The swimming and snorkeling are excellent when the tide is calm. Thanks to the eruptions of Mauna Loa, what was once the site of King Kamehameha's gigantic fishpond is now several freshwater ponds encircling this beautiful bay, with a picturesque lava-rock island in the middle. If you follow the shoreline southwest toward Kona, just past the big yellow house, you'll come to another public beach which has naturally occurring freshwater pools inside a lava tube. This area, called Queen's Bath, is as cool as it sounds. Recent upgrades have been made for camping and unpaved parking. Amenities: parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: snorkeling.

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