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Big Island – Beaches, Northwest Ocean Shore
What? : There is no
real vacation in Hawaii if it does not include few days at the beaches.
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
Link to other Big Islands Blog
Due note 1: As always bring
plenty of water and reef-safe sunscreen to make your beach day pleasant and
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
Due note 3: In many beaches
there is no shade at all, so it is highly recommended to bring a beach
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 Big Island is
the “youngest” island in the chain of Hawaii islands and has the fewest major long
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
Island’s popular beaches are mainly located along the Northwest Coast Of the Island.
Popular Sand Beaches:
- Hapuna beach
Beach (Kua Bay)
The Big Island
has excellent snorkeling conditions because the water off the Kona coast tends
to be very clear.
Popular snorkeling locations
Kahaluu beach park
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
Heiau National Historic Site):
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.
beach and the facilities provided at the park have made it a very popular site for
families with little children.
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.
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.
Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area
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.
restrooms, showers, and several shaded pavilions to have a picnic.
There is “no
lifeguard on duty" sign.
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.
the south end of the beach provides a variety of fish and coral.
Waialea Beach or 69 Milemarker
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
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)
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
is to keep driving short distance to the end of the road and park there.
You have few beaches
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.
north for 15-20 min across a lava rock trail and you will reach Mahai'ula beach.
hiking after Mahai'ula beach for another 0.7 mile to the secluded Makalawena
(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
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
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.
several coves and inlets,
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.
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
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
Alula beach with Turtles
Magic Sands Beach Park
Kahalu’u Beach Park
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
Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National
Green Sand Beach
Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach
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