The Beautiful Beaches of Hawaii

Few people talk about the great beaches of the Big Island. It’s mostly because they are hidden and you need to know where they are, and how to find them. The Big Island has some great beaches, and in many ways it’s a paradise for those that love to hang on the beach, sunbath, swim, snorkel, or cool down under the shades of palm trees. Below we listed most of the famous and interesting beaches along the Kona and Kailua coast. At the end we also highlight a few very interesting beaches on the south side of the island. It’s a bit of a drive from Kailua-Kona, but if you are up for the adventure, it’s worth the trip! Remember that most of these beaches have no lifeguard and many don't have drinking water. The ocean is a great joy, but it can change from friend to foe in one breath. Treat it with respect, don't snorkel or boogie board where you don't see anyone else doing it (not counting young local guys who grew up on a boogie board!), and don't turn your back on the waves!  Click here for more detailed information about many beaches


Anaehoomalu Bay (A-Bay)

A-Bay beachAnaehoomalu is best known for its sunsets, snorkeling and historic royal fishponds. This beach slopes gently from shallow to deeper waters and swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and windsurfing are all excellent here. The area is fringed by a grove of palms and inland your find a beautiful fishpond still full of mullets. The beach can be found in front of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and is enjoyed by both hotel guests and locals. Equipment rental and snorkeling, scuba, and windsurfing instruction are available at the north end of the beach. At the far edge of the bay is a rare-turtle cleaning station, where snorkelers and divers can watch endangered green sea turtles line up, waiting their turn to have small fish clean them. There are rest rooms, showers, picnic tables, and plenty of parking.

Kaunaoa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach)

Kaunaia BeachThis gold-sand beach at the foot of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is protected by two black-lava points making it a wonderful place to swim and snorkel in calm waters around the rocky points. A coconut grove frames the bay, which is filled with beautiful soft white sand. The sandy bottom of the bay slopes gently into the ocean, which often fills with schools of tropical fish and green sea turtles. The turtles often come ashore to take long naps in the warm sun. Swimming is excellent year-round, except during rare winter storms. Facilities include rest rooms, showers, and ample parking, but there's no lifeguard. Beach can only be accessed through the resort Hotel. They have a limited number of public access parking spots available. Two other smaller beaches can be accessed by walking for about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Kauna'oa - Waiulaula Beach and Mau'umae Beach. Both are two small pockets of white sand.

Hapuna Beach

Hapuna BeachHapuna Beach is rated the "Number one beach in America" by Conde Nast Traveler. The beach is located off of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, a little bit south of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. It’s a nice wide beach, about a half mile long and 200 feet deep. The locals believe this is the best beach for swimming, body surfing, and snorkeling, especially in the summer months when then water is calm. Facilities include A-frame cabins for camping, pavilions, rest rooms, showers, and plenty of parking. Take Highway 19 north from Kona. Turn left at the access road just before Mile Marker #69. Go to the end of the road, turn left and then take an immediate right. Follow this road to the parking.

White Sands Beach Park

White Sands BeachThis is the most popular bodysurfing and body boarding beach in North Kona. In fact, it is the site of the Annual Magic Sands Bodysurfing Championship. The beach park is on Alii drive and not a particularly interesting or impressive beach, but it is in a busy area and as such frequented by many locals and tourists. The beach offers good boogie boarding when the ocean co-operates. The location is good for both snorkeling and scuba diving (shore diving) as you can find nice caverns and lava tubes at about 60 feet depth. Sometimes this beach is called the "Disappearing Sands" because the shorebreak erodes the small pocket of white-sand beach very quickly, often times within 24 hours, washing away all sand and leaving only exposed lava rock. When the wave action ceases, the regular ocean currents slowly move the sand back. However, this can take a few months. But this periodic and complete flushing of the sand keeps it very white. Located just north of mile marker 4 on Alii Drive.

Kahaluu Beach Park

Kahaluu BeachThis is probably one of the largest beaches between Kailua and Keauhou. Many years ago, in the times of King Kahehameha, workers constructed a seawall in the surf to protect a small cove for swimming. The bay that was formed is great for snorkeling as fish life is rich, and turtles frequent the area. There are areas for a picnic. This dark-grey sand beach is located next to St. Peter's Catholic Church and Ku'emanu Heiau. The bay is still used today by surfers, with a surf school across the street from the ancient canoe landing. The parking lot is open 7am - 11pm, and lifeguards are on duty during limited hours.

Old Airport Beach Park

Old Airport BeachThe first Kona Airport closed in 1970 and the runway became the parking lot for this mile long beach. The beach is not very wide or sandy, but there is easy access to the ocean and it is usually not crowded. A small, sandy inlet at the south end has the best swimming. It’s an interesting location to visit as you will find many tide pools that contain a multitude of ocean creatures. Adjacent to the beach there are good areas for walking or running. Also, the area features community recreation fields just south of the runway. Shore diving is possible from this location. Park at the far end of the old runway and enter the water about 25 yards north. Take Highway 19 one mile north of Kona. Turn left on Makala Boulevard, just before Mile Marker #99. Go to the end of the road, turn right on Kuakini to the old runway. Park anywhere.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Black Sand BeachBecause of constant volcanic activity, you'll find white sands, green sands and black sands on Hawaii Island. Located on the southeastern Kau coast, Punaluu Black Sand Beach is one of the most famous black sand beaches in Hawaii. Located between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the small town of Naalehu, Punaluu Black Sand Beach's jet black shores are an unforgettable sight. Coconut palms fringe the upper edge of sand and you may also discover large honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, basking on the beach. Although it may be tempting, do not touch these protected turtles and do not remove any black sand from the beach. Although swimming isn't ideal, there is a picnic area and restroom facilities so you can have lunch while you experience the unique feeling of black sand between your toes. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is located just south of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and a good place to stop to enjoy the view or have a picnic. If you are driving to the Volcano from Kona, however, stopping at Punalu’u may be tough with your already long day due to the 2.5 hour drive back to Kona. Hilo visitors will find the trip South to Punalu’u a rewarding one.

Green Sand Beach

Green Sand BeachPapakōlea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach or Mahana Beach) is Hawaii’s green sand beach, located at the southern tip just west of South Point. This is one of only two green sand beaches in the World, the other being in Galapagos Islands. It gets its distinctive coloring from the mineral olivine, found in the enclosing cinder cone. While there are no organized tours, this isolated place is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from most of the resorts up along the Kohola Coast. Driving to the beach is very hard due to the poor conditions of the unpaved road. Most opt for a 2.5 mile hike each way along the wind swept and hot dusty deep rutted jeep roads. The beach is located about 3 miles east of Ka Lae (known as South Point).