COVID19 UPDATE
Big Island

Swimming at ‘The Pier’ in Kailua Kona

One of my favorite things about living in Kailua Kona is that I have the world’s best ‘backyard pool’, aka…’the pier’ in Kailua Bay. Located on Ali’i Drive in front of the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on the Big Island, it’s one of the world’s most famous spots; home to the start of the Ironman World Triathlon.

Before Ironman, additional orange buoys are added to the swim area

From my house in Pualani Estates it’s a short 4 minute drive into town with accessible free parking nearby. A short walk takes me to the pier where around 8am many Kona residents of all ages and abilities meet up for their daily swim.

Morning Swim Group at the Pier in Kona

Over the years the ‘Pier Group’ has formed; an informal group of aquatic enthusiasts who love ocean swimming and sports. They meet daily in the mornings for group swims. There’s a storage box that some pier group members built for us all to store our towels, bags, and slippers while we’re swimming, as well as restroom facilities and showers nearby. Getting into the water you’ll find a nice sandy beach for safe and easy entry. It’s a perfect spot for all ages to enjoy swimming and snorkeling.

Easy entry into the water

Kailua Bay Buoy Distances

There’s a buoyed area that separates the ‘swimming’ area from boat and pier traffic. As you swim out parallel to the shore there are multiple buoys you can swim to. Swim out and back to the 4th buoy and you’ve swam about 300 yards. Feeling like an Ironman? You can swim out to the 1.2 mile ‘Kings’ buoy, which is a total of 2,000 meters or 1.2 miles round trip.  

My son at the 1.2 mile buoy!

Along they way you can stop at the half mile, 3/4 mile, or the new 1,500 meter buoy (all of which mark the round trip distance from shore). The buoys are set on the Ironman course, attracting swimmers and triathletes year round from all over the world. If you swim inline with the buoys (which is recommended for safety), the depth ranges from about 15-20 feet around the 4th buoy and gradually gets deeper at the Kings buoy, about 50 feet.

The new 1,500 meter buoy

Marine Life in Kailua Bay

The water here at the pier is clean, warm, and offers some of the most exotic and beautiful tropical marine life to be found.

Not an unusual sight on a morning swim at the pier in Kona

I’ve encountered huge pods of dolphins, mantas, and spotted eagle rays as close as the 4th buoy! Every swim is an absolute treat and reminds me everyday of the beauty this world has to offer, even in my own ‘backyard’!

Manta Ray near the 1,500 meter buoy!

Living Near Kailua Bay

Imagine being able to do this everyday of the year! I’d love to show you some homes or condominiums that are just minutes away from this incredible swimming area. Call me and allow me to make this a reality for you too!

Comments (12) Show CommentsHide Comments (Remember)

Cool. Add your comment...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private, this form is secure and we never spam you.

Heidi White

January 23, 2013

I agree totally, its also my favorite way to start my day, in the warm blue Pacific ocean in Kona!
Love your blog and your lifestyle!

Kristi Cotton

January 23, 2013

Thanks Heidi! I love living and sharing the Hawaii Life!

Larry McDonough

November 14, 2013

Hello Kristi,
I am a Triathlon “newbie” and have yet to do an ocean swim. So far for racing, only fresh water lake swimming in the Pacific Northwest (Washington State) where I live. I have swam in Hawaii before, snorkling and close in to shore, simple stuff. I may be coming over to Kona next month and would love to swim the Pier area, but I have, and maybe irrationally so, a fear of shark encounters. What can you tell me about that in the waters around the Pier swim lanes? Thanks so much

Heidi White

January 23, 2013

I agree totally, its also my favorite way to start my day, in the warm blue Pacific ocean in Kona!
Love your blog and your lifestyle!

Kristi Cotton

January 23, 2013

Thanks Heidi! I love living and sharing the Hawaii Life!

Larry McDonough

November 14, 2013

Hello Kristi,
I am a Triathlon “newbie” and have yet to do an ocean swim. So far for racing, only fresh water lake swimming in the Pacific Northwest (Washington State) where I live. I have swam in Hawaii before, snorkling and close in to shore, simple stuff. I may be coming over to Kona next month and would love to swim the Pier area, but I have, and maybe irrationally so, a fear of shark encounters. What can you tell me about that in the waters around the Pier swim lanes? Thanks so much

Dick Shores

October 28, 2013

I totally agree with your comments about swimming from “The Pier”. I have been coming here pracically every year since 1983, when I first came to do the Ironman and fell in love with Kona. I now try to a spend a month here each fall, and my days wouldn’t be complete without a swim in the bay. This year I swam through a pod of dolphins and saw an Eagle Ray in the vicinity of the 1500M bouy.

Dick Shores

October 28, 2013

I totally agree with your comments about swimming from “The Pier”. I have been coming here pracically every year since 1983, when I first came to do the Ironman and fell in love with Kona. I now try to a spend a month here each fall, and my days wouldn’t be complete without a swim in the bay. This year I swam through a pod of dolphins and saw an Eagle Ray in the vicinity of the 1500M bouy.

steve

May 27, 2016

What time do they swim in the morning? Thanks

steve

May 27, 2016

What time do they swim in the morning? Thanks

Summer Scanlan

September 28, 2016

Hi! I’ve just started open water swimming, and am going to be in the Kona area from Oct. 26 – Nov 5. I am hoping to find a small group to do a swim with. What time is the morning swim, usually? I’m a novice but have done two 1.5-mile swims in open water, and swim a mile once or twice per week. I wouldn’t want to swim out to the buoy by myself, so am hoping to find someone to go with me!

Renea Jones

December 3, 2019

oh my! I will be there in May 2020 for the 70.3 Ironman.

This article makes me want to move there! Luv Luv Luv

More Articles from Hawaii Life