Big Island – Beaches, Northwest Ocean Shore


What? : There is no real vacation in Hawaii if it does not include few days at the beaches.

The Big Island is not different. In a short week or even two weeks’ vacation, you can’t visit the countless beaches the island has to offer.

I listed below the beaches we visit and added names of other attractive beaches.


Where? : There are beaches around the island but the most attractive, sandy and sunny beaches are located along highway 19 at the north east section of the island, between Knoa at the south to Kawaihae at the north.

All the west side of the island gets a lot more rain from the northeast and has much less attractive beaches.


Link to other Big Islands Blog posts:



Due note 1: As always bring plenty of water and reef-safe sunscreen to make your beach day pleasant and sunburn-free.


Due note 2: Be cautious and maintain alert for choppy seas and breaking waves. Users of kayaks and paddle board must be aware of strong wind and current conditions that can carry you offshore.


Due note 3: In many beaches there is no shade at all, so it is highly recommended to bring a beach ambarella.


Due note 4: Some of the Big Island's beaches are accessible only by hiking trail but most are easily available to all visitors and has nearby parking lot.


Due note 5: Even if the weather prediction indicate rain this can be only a short event. It can be clear and hot before or after the rain even in wintertime.


Due note 6: As the youngest Hawaiian island, the Big Island’s sand beaches are relatively smaller and with more lava rocks, do not expect to see miles of sandy beaches with palm trees.


My thoughts: We visit the Big Island at the last week of 2021, we had few warm sunny days, but we also had rainy called days that are less enjoyable for beach fun. We tried to set our schedule and trip activity according to the expected weather conditions.

Due to the island’s long coastline and massive size, there are hundreds of beaches dotted along the Big Island, I only cover below beaches I visited and add few others that I saw that they are recommended.



The visit:


The Big Island is the “youngest” island in the chain of Hawaii islands and has the fewest major long sandy beaches.

Even though this is a perfect beach destination!

Here you will find everything from family-friendly dandy sandy beaches with calm water to rocky rugged and remote beaches. There are even several beaches with black sand and even one with green sand.

The Big Island’s popular beaches are mainly located along the Northwest Coast Of the Island.

Popular Sand Beaches:

  • Hapuna beach
  • Manini'owali Beach (Kua Bay)
  • Anaehoʻomalu Beach
  • Makalawena beach

The Big Island has excellent snorkeling conditions because the water off the Kona coast tends to be very clear.

Popular snorkeling locations include:

·       Honaunau Bay

·       Kealakekua Bay

·       Kahaluu beach park

·       Maikaiwa Bay



The Beaches:

Most of the recommended beach locations are in the Northwest coast at Kohala and Kona regions. This area of the island is dryer and warmer and get less rain, here you can also find more sand at the beaches.


At our short 1 week visit to the Big Island we did not have the time to visit many beaches, I will provide detailed description to beaches we visit, additionally I list few other names of recommended beaches we did not have the time to visit.

The below list of beach locations is sorted from north to south:



Spencer Beach Park

(near Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site):

Link to Google map

Spencer Beach Park is located on the shoreline immediately below Puʻukohola Heiau, a famous temple built by Kamehameha I. 

Spencer Beach is a flat pocket of white sand with a very gentle slope, this, with a shallow reef directly offshore provides good protection from waves and ocean currents. The water near the shore is shallow and an excellent playground for kids. Surfing or is not very popular, as the water is usually calm.

The protected beach and the facilities provided at the park have made it a very popular site for families with little children.

Facilities include restrooms, picnic tables, showers, tennis courts, parking lots, a camping area, and a lifeguard. In the park, near the beach, you can find many large shade trees that provide shaded area.

Camping is allowed on the grounds, but you’ll need a permit to stay overnight.



Kaunaʻoa (Mauna Kea) Beach:

One of the more popular beaches, when we came, they told us at the gate that parking lot is full and we went to the nearby Hapuna Beach.

Link to Google map



Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Link to Google map

This is one of the most popular beaches in the Big Island. This half-mile bay with a stretch of wide golden sand and clean blue water.

From the paid large parking lot, you will go down through the tree section into the large beach.

There are restrooms, showers, and several shaded pavilions to have a picnic.

There is “no lifeguard on duty" sign.

During the summer months, the sand reaches 200 feet wide, and it does not have any shade. Wear sandals or flip flops, the golden sand heats to an unbearable temperature on a sunny day.

In the summer, the water is generally calm, but become deep relatively fast so be sure to monitor wave and current conditions carefully before entering.

For snorkelers, the south end of the beach provides a variety of fish and coral.



Waialea Beach or 69 Milemarker Beach



Anaehoʻomalu Beach:

Link to Google map

Anaeho'omalu Bay (also known as A-Bay) near the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Hilton Waikoloa Village complex is probably the prettiest beaches in this area.

It has a long white-sand beach, several tide pools, old fishponds, a large grove of coconut trees, shade by tree beach sections, stunning photo-worthy sunset at the end of the day, and from here you can hike both north and south on the ocean shore.

To reach A-Bay, turn off Highway 19 toward the ocean at Waikoloa Beach Drive. Pass Queen’s mall on your left and right after the mall turn left onto Ku’ualil Place. Continue until you see the gravel free public parking lot on your left (at the end of the road). Walk about 2 minutes to the beach.

The beach has Showers and bathrooms

The beach doesn’t have a lifeguard.

On the left side of the beach near the entrance you can find a Beach Hut. Here you can rent snorkel gear, paddle boards, kayaks, floats, boogie boards, and even few beach cabanas for rent.

Lava Lava Beach Club is also located on the southern end of A Bay, this place is good for lunch on the beach or sunset cocktails.



Kiholo Bay Black Sand Beach

Manini'owali Beach at Kua Bay



Kekaha Kai State Beach (Mahai'ula beach, Makalawena Beach)

Link to Google map

Kekaha Kai State Park, formerly known as Kona Coast State Park, is a beach park located along the Kona coast just north of the Big Island main airport.

The two main beachs in this shore sections are Maniniʻowali Bay and Makalawena beach.

To reach the beaches from highway 19 entrance you will need to drive 5.6 miles on rough gravel road, drive slowly and be careful not to damage your low clearance rental car. After driving 5.6 miles you will reach the hiking trail entrance on your left, trail that leads to the beaches to the north. You can see many cars already parked here on the roadside.

Another option is to keep driving short distance to the end of the road and park there.

You have few beaches access options:

1.      Park at the end of the road and walk short distance through the trees to the sandy beach. You can walk on the beach itself north to the Mahai'ula bay.

2.      Hike north for 15-20 min across a lava rock trail and you will reach Mahai'ula beach.

3.      Keep hiking after Mahai'ula beach for another 0.7 mile to the secluded Makalawena Beach.

Maniniʻōwali (Kua Bay) section at north end of park offers swimming during calm seas, bodysurfing during periods of shore breaks, sunbathing, picnicking and other beach-related activities.

From the car hike north on the clear path on the lava flow until you will reach the trees and the beach. The deep yellow sandy bay protected from it sides buy lava flow create a picture-perfect location.

With trees that provide shade on the beach itself it is a perfect place to enjoy your beach day.

Although it does not have easy access and considered to be “off the beaten path” but because this is Big Island’s most spectacular beaches, you will not be the only one here. Find a place in the shade, enjoy the warm send, swim, and the shallow coral reefs at the edge of the bay provide a perfect destination for snorkeling.

Equipped with several coves and inlets,

This secluded white sand beach is a crescent broken up by rocky lumps of lava. Palms and other trees rim the dunes near the northern end where you are greeted with picnic tables and some wild chickens.

No lifeguard services.

A picnic area with tables is available at the parking lot at the end of the road.

There are restrooms and running water only at the parking lot at the end of the road.

No Entrance Fee.



Wawaloli Beach Park

Link to Google map

Located just seven miles north from downtown Kailua-Kona, just before Kona Airport runway.

The small sandy beach is protected from ocean wave by a natural lava shelf off the shoreline. This natural barrier creates tide pools, a great spot for small children to cool off in the water and a place to explore for adults. If you are exploring the rocky sections and tidepools the lava rocks here can be sharp and slippery, water shoes are recommended.

The lava shelf along the sandy beach is creating interesting phenomena, when it is high surf and waves are hitting the shoreline the water spray shoots up to the sky and create dynamic photos, especially at sunset.

The Park is located just off the road where you park your car, no walking distance at all. The Park offer picnic tables, barbecue grills, showers, and restrooms for an enjoyable day at the beach.



Kohanaiki Beach Park

Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park

Alula beach with Turtles

Magic Sands Beach Park



Kahalu’u Beach Park

Link to Google map

Located right next to the town of Kailua Kona, Kahaluʻu Beach is known for being one of the Big Island’s best snorkeling spots. Its clear waters are filled with fish, and its calm waters provide excellent snorkeling conditions. When the tide goes out, shallow tidepools form along Kahaluʻu Beach.



Captain James Cook Monument

Nāpō’opo’o Pier

Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

South Point

Papakōlea Green Sand Beach

Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach



More Pictures: