Big island beaches range from cloudy calm bays to long stretches of sunny coastline. The sands range from course to powdery. The color of the sand ranges from golden sand, white sand, black sand and green sand. Hawaii’s beaches are unlike any you have ever seen. This is a big island with many beaches all around it, too many to mention. Here is a list of some of the best big island beaches by region.
1. Kahalu’u Beach Park
Kahalu’u Beach is about 5.5 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Ali’I Drive. Although the beach is not one of the largest on the island, it is one of the most popular and crowded. This big beach has reef protected lagoons that are filled with colorful fish. Snorkeling at this beach is great and the water is shallow allowing you to just stand up if you get tired. This also makes it a great beach for children. The sand is a salt and pepper color and the shore is lined with coconut palm trees. Amenities at the beach include: Off road parking, lifeguards, beach gear rental stands, restrooms, barbecue pits, covered pavilion and a food concession stand serving plate lunches and sandwiches. All of this makes Kahaluu beach one of the best big island beaches.
2. Kekaha Kai State Park
Kekaha Kai State Park is located just under two miles north of Kona International Airport. You can reach this big island beach by taking Highway 19 (Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy). There is a sign for the park on the left. This is a rough dirt road that goes for about 1.25 miles to the beach. The road can be driven in a regular car, just drive slowly. The beach area is about 5 miles long, with numerous white sand beaches along the stretch. There is also a great protected cove for swimming at Mahalula bay. There are some ancient historical archaeological sites along this area. There is a fresh water spring that bubbles up and makes it’s way to the ocean and there are some picnic tables shaded by coconut palm trees. There are also some portable toilets. There are no lifeguards and no drinking water. This is a very beautiful stretch along the Kona Coast.
3. La’aloa Bay Beach Park
This lovely white sand big island beach is also known as Kona Magic Sand Beach and Disappearing Sand Beach. The small white sand beach earned these names because at high tide and in the winter, this white sand beach disappears, sometimes completely. During the summer months this wonderful little beach is a great place for families and children. The water is calm and the white sand soft. There is a coconut grove along the shore. It is a perfect beach for swimming and snorkeling (even for beginners). In the winter, the big waves attract the local surfers. This beach is located about 4.5 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Ali’I Drive. Amenities include: Lifeguard, restrooms, showers and a volleyball net. This is one of the all around great big island beaches.
4. Kahuwai Bay Beach
This is a great beach to sit among the palm trees and watch the sunset. This is a soft sandy beach surrounded by groves of palm trees with black lava rock that forms a barrier in the water. The water is very shallow in most places. The sea turtles like to bathe in the sun at this beach. The beach is located next to the Kona Village Resort which makes it one of the most easily accesible of the big island beaches.
5. Kua Bay
This big island beach is a beautiful white sand beach sloping into the bright light blue ocean. In the summertime this beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. To reach this beach take Hwy 19 (Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy) until you see the beach access road between mile markers 88 and 89. There is no shade or amenities at this beach.
6. Makalawena Beach
Makalawena Beach has about ¾ miles of shoreline and has five inlets (coves). This is a beautiful white sand beach that has very few people. That is mostly due to the fact that you have to hike about 20 minutes just to reach it. The beach is between mile markers 89 and 90 off of Hwy 19. The trailhead is in the Kona Coast State Park. The hike takes you over dried lava fields until you reach the beautiful white sand beach. Behind the beach are sand dunes and lots of shady trees to relax under when you have had enough sun. A little further inland, just beyond the trees, there is a refreshing fresh water pool. There are no restrooms, lifeguards or drinking water at this Beach. The 20 minute hike makes this one of the most secluded of the big island beaches.
1. Leleiwi Beach Park
Leleiwi Beach Park is located about four miles south of Hilo on Kalanian’ole Ave. This is one of the most beautiful big island beaches. This black sand beach is surrounded by palm trees and has a few black lava tide pools that are also fed by fresh water from the mountains. In the center of the park is a great protected inlet perfect for swimming. This beach is also an area that attract Hawaiian green sea turtles, which also make it a good snorkeling beach. The beach has lifeguards, restrooms, showers, paved walkways and picnic pavilions. The blue ocean, black sand, lava rock all surrounded by beautiful palm trees make this one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii.
2. Richardson Ocean Park
Richardson Ocean Park is located right next to Leleiwi Beach Park and is almost exactly the same. There is black sand, lava rocks, palm trees and protected inlets allowing for safe swimming. It is a continuation of the previous beach park. This beautiful beach park also has showers and restrooms. This beach is located about four miles south of Hilo on Kalanian’ole Ave.
3. Onekahakaha Beach Park
This beautiful white sand beach is a favorite of local families. The protected area has picnic pavilions, year round lifeguards, restrooms and showers. This big island beach is also located on Kalanian’ole Ave. about 3 miles south of Hilo. This is a great beach to stop at on your way to or from Leleiwi Beach Park. J See the black sand and white sand big island beaches all in one day.
4. Reeds Bay Beach Park
This beach is popular because it is very close to downtown Hilo. The water is calm and safe for swimming and snorkeling. There is a freshwater pond nearby that seeps cool water into the ocean. This beach has restrooms and showers. The beach is located on Kalanian’ole Ave and Banyan Drive.
1. Ana’eho’omalu Bay
Ana’eho’omalu Bay is known by the locals as “A Bay”. This beach is a real gem. It is a large beach with golden sand and an ocean bottom that gently slopes deeper into the ocean. There is a grove of palms along the shore providing shade. Beyond the palms are ancient fishponds that still have fish I them. Nearby is also a nice field of petroglyphs. Although this beach is very popular, it never gets really crowded. At one end of the bay there is an equipment rental shack. This beach is perfect for swimming, kayaking, diving, windsurfing, stand up paddling and especially snorkeling due to the amount of Hawaiian green seat turtles in the water. The beach is located in front of the popular Waikoloa Beach Marriot Resort. Besides beach equipment rentals, other amenities include: Picnic tables, shade, showers, restrooms and a large parking area. This is another one of the great big island beaches.
2. Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach is located off Hwy 19 just south of The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. This beach is a ½ mile long, wide crescent shaped , gold sand beach. In the summer months the beach is wider and the ocean is calmer, which makes it the best swimming and snorkeling beach on the island. In the winter the waves become ferocious. Facilities include: Lifeguards, plenty of parking, restrooms, showers and A-frame State cabins available for camping.
3. Kaunoa Beach
The locals call this beach Mauna Kea Beach due to it’s close location to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. There is a large coconut grove that curves around the crescent shaped beach. The golden sand beach with crystal clear water is very calm due to the rocky points at both ends of the beach. This inlet is a great place to see giant Manta Rays at night when the Hotel shine lights in the ocean which attracts them. During the day, this beach is great for swimming. Snorkeling is great especially near the rocky points where you will find schools of colorful tropical fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles. Facilities include: Plenty of parking, restrooms and showers. There are no lifeguards or water. Refreshments can be purchased at the hotel.
4. Koki Beach
Koki Beach is another beautiful long crescent shaped white sand beach surrounded by the bright turquoise waters in front and shady palms, ironwood and kiwi trees in the back. You know this is a great beach when the access is through the Hualalai Four Seasons Resort. This is also a great beach to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles. Amenities are available at the Four Seasons. (they frown upon use from non guests)
5. Waialea Beach
Waialea Beach is located at Waialea Bay next to Hapuna Beach by the 69 Pole Marker along the road. This is a beautiful secluded white sand beach surrounded by groves of trees and tons of shrubs. The trees provide a lot of shade and the shrubs provide privacy. This inlet is protected pretty well from rough currents which makes it a good swimming beach. This beach is uncrowned, but there are no facilities at all.
6. Spencer Beach Park
This beach is a white sand beach that gently slopes to the crystal clear light blue ocean that is protected by an offshore reef. The ocean has great swimming year round which makes it a favorite of local families. Hawaiian green sea turtles love the reef area which makes it great for snorkeling. Pu’u’kohola and Mailekini Heiaus are within walking distance of this beach. The facilities at this beach are: A large pavilion with electricity, tennis courts, showers, restrooms, large shady trees, barbeque pits and camping with a permit. The beach is located off Hwy 270 just north of Kawaihae Harbor. You will see the entry road along the highway.
7. Mahukona State Park and Lapakahi State Park
This is a great beach located in Kohala next to the abandoned port of Mahukona. This port was used for ships to haul the sugar that was delivered to the port by trains from the sugar cane plantations. Photographers will have a field day photographing the old docks and buildings. The water is great for swimming and snorkeling. This beach has Barbeque pits, toilets, showers and camping with a permit. A short walk south is Lapakahi State Park. This historical park offers lessons in Hawaiian Archaeology and Hawaiian history. This beach park was once an Ancient Hawaiian fishing village. This park also has a Marine preserve to explore. These parks are located north of Kawaihae.
1. Ahalanui Beach Park
This nice three acre beach park was opened in 1993 as a “replacement beach” for the beaches that were lost during Kilauea’s lava flows. This beach park has a ½ acre pond that is naturally heated by volcanic steam. It is great swimming in this pond but the ocean current here is very strong and unsuitable for swimming. The park has some shaded picnic tables and portable restrooms. There is potable drinking water at the beach park. The park is located 2.5 miles south of Highway 132 and 137 junction on the Kapoho Coast in the Puna district.
2. Isaac Hale Beach Park
This is a pretty big island beach park in the Puna district off hwy 137 a little north of hwy 132 junction. There is a pretty grassy area shaded by ironwood trees and there are also picnic areas and restrooms. In the summer the ocean current is mild and there is great swimming and snorkeling here. In the winter the current is strong and swimming is unadvisable.
3. Mac Kenzie State Recreation Area
Mac Kenzie State Recreation Area is a 13 acre park that is shaded by ironwood trees. This is a great beach park to have a picnic. The ocean is rocky and current is rough. You can go in to cool off, but due to the current and rocks, it is not a great swimming beach. Restrooms are available. This big island beach is located on Hwy 137 about two miles south of Hwy 132 junction.
1. Punalul’u Beach
This big island beach is one of the most beautiful black sand beaches left on the island. This beach has beautiful black sand, crystal clear water and the shore is lined with palm trees. Inland a little ways from the beach are the ancient fishponds. Close to the boat ramp on the northern end of the beach are the ruins of an ancient Heiau along with a large flat sacrificial stone. The amenities at this beach include: Shade, restrooms, showers and drinking water. This big island beach is located 27 miles south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
2. Papakolea Beach
Papakolea Beach is known as the green sand beach. This big island beach is located at the base of Pu’uo’mahana. Pu’uo’mahana is an ancient cinder cone that spills these green “Hawaiian Diamonds” into the sea. The green sand is actually olivine that is found in meteorites and volcanic rocks. Reaching this strange beach is difficult if not treacherous. To reach the beach, park at the boat ramp at South Point. Start walking down the four wheel vehicle trail, which is relatively flat. The trail is hardened lava for the 1st 20 minutes. After the lava field you will hike about 45 minutes through pastureland. When you see the cinder cone, you will be at a viewing spot above the beach. If you want to go down to the beach, you have to climb over the cinder cone and climb down the boulders to the beach. Climbing down the boulders are rough because there is a 4-5 foot drop between some of them. It is harder getting back up. The beach is windy and hot and there is no shade. Wear a hat and sunscreen and bring plenty of water. When you reach the beach, the waves and currents are treacherous and the waves sometimes cover the entire beach. The rip currents are very strong so stay close to the rocks around the edge of the beach if the waves become large. Allow about 3 hours for this hike. The beach has no facilities.
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