The first thing visitors to Big Island notice (okay, the second thing) is that our shoreline is spectacular, but much rockier than the other islands. We like to think of it as good bone structure. That's because Hawaii is the youngest (Kauai'i being the oldest) of the islands. As a result we don't have as many sandy beaches, but the one's we do have are great, varying in color from white to salt & pepper to black. We even have a green sand beach. No lie. There are also many difficult to reach spots that are excellent, but without 4-wheel drive (and good directions) you can't get there. So use our beach guide to see where you'ld like to do the sun and surf thing. Click the map for locations.
1. Anaeho'omalu Bay
Don't worry, you can call it A Bay and everyone will still know what you're talking about. Gorgeous white sand beach edged with towering palms. Great place for a a picture perfect Hawaiian sunset shot. One of the best West side windsurfing spots. Many ancient ki'i pohaku (petroglyphs) nearby as well as a section of the King's Highway, as well as many other spots of archaeological significance. Secret: Want some privacy? When you enter the beach park, turn left (south) and follow a footpath along the beach. This will take you to several white sand private coves. You may not see another footprint.
2. Hapuna Beach State Park L,T,R,S,P,SN,B,SW
One of the best anywhere. Beautiful scenery, white sand. Surf can be big for beginners in the winter and it can be very windy at times. Favorite boogieboarding spot. There are also camp shelters for rent (check with Park Service for reservations). Snack bar with local grinds.
3. Samuel Spencer Beach Park T,R,S,P,SN,SW
Great family beach with water calm enough for the keiki (kids) and inexperienced swimmers. Good spot to sun, fish, catch up on some reading or just kick back and coast. Close to the Puukohola Heiau, the famous war temple erected by local hero King Kamehameha I way back in 1790.
4. Kona Coast State Park L,P,SN,SW
A short trip down a bumpy road in what seems to be the middle of nowhere brings you to an expansive beach park. Snorkeling can be pretty good here. Plenty of sand and sun. Usually calm water. Lots of families picnic here on the weekend (a Hawaiian tradition).
5. Kahalu'u Beach Park L,T,R,S,SN,B,SW,SF
Good beginner's' snorkeling beach with resident honu (turtles). A large coral reef in the bay makes for predictably calm waters. Surfers and boogieboarders head out beyond the reef, but watch for rip tides.
6. Napo'opo'o Beach Park T,S,SN,SW
Small beach made even smaller by Hurricane Iniki's passing, located in historic Kealakekua Bay, site of Captain Cook's demise. Check out the dolphins. Morning usually best time, and yes, they love company. Ancient heiau right on the beach (sacred to some Hawaiians and important to all, so be respectful). Across the bay you will also see the only soil still owned by England, a small plot containing the Captain Cook monument. This is also the best snorkeling spot around (my opinion), but you need to kayak or take a boat to get to it. The bay is a marine preserve so there are plenty of underwater critters. Heart of Old Hawaii. Secret: There is a trail at the top of Napo'opo'o Road that leads to the monument, but it's a fairly rigorous hike back up. Try King's Trail Rides for an easier (and much more fun) trip.
7. Old Airport Beach Park T,R,S,P,B,
Not a very romantic sounding place, but pretty nice spot to soak up some sun. Check out the tide pools for interesting and temporarily stranded marine life. Good wading for little ones. Popular boogieboarding spot and it's right in the heart of Kailua town with Hualalai looking down. Plenty of picnic tables in the shade make it an enjoyable lunch rendezvous. You actually drive in on the old runway, which some of us still remember being the only one in Kona.
8. Magic Sands Beach Park L,SN,SW,B,SF
Also called White sands and Disappearing Sands because in the months of March and April the sands "magically" disappear. Primarily a bodysurfing and boogieboarding beach. Surfers a little further out when it's happening. Quite small as beaches go, but fun. Plenty local color. Secret: The garlic rounds and salmon pate next door at Jameson's are to die for.
9. Punalu'u Black Sand Beach T,S,P,SN,SW
Lovely black sand beach used as the location in Chris Isaak's first video, Foolish Game. Frequented by our endangered green sea turtles and people who want to see something special. Good snorkeling but there can be some nasty rip tides so be careful.
10. Mauna Kea Beach
At the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, also known as Kauna'oa Beach. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere. What a view. Great surfing in season. Manta rays viewable at night. Previously a nesting and mating place for the honu. Now a high class nesting and mating spot for tourists and locals with good taste and plenty kala.
11. Kamakahonu Bay
Means Eye of the Turtle in Hawaiian. Tiny strip of sand next to Kailua Pier, sight of the Ironman Triathlon starting line. Great place for a morning swim. Right in the heart of Kailua shopping and general hubbub. They rent all manner of water contraptions, too.
12. Honokohau Beach
At the end of the access road in the Honokohau Marina. Though you can surf and snorkel here, most people come here to get an all over tan without being arrested. We suggest SPF 45 for those of you whose naughty bits haven't ever seen the sun. Secret: A trail at the north end of the beach leads through heavy growth to the historic Queen's Bath and surrounding spring-fed rock cisterns.
13. Mahukona Beach County Park R,S,P,SN,SW
Located a few minutes north of Lapakahi State Historical Park, you enter a road leading through what remains of the Kohala Sugar Company: some abandoned buildings. The harbor is full of discarded industrial junk which makes for interesting diving, but the offshore reef is where the fish are most numerous. High surf in the winter months makes this secluded beach less than perfect for water activities.
14. Onekahakaha Beach Park L,T,R,S,SW
Nice white sand beach, great for swimming, and very popular Hilo family park. Stay within the breakwater though because the outside currents can be mean and unpredictable. Secret: If you head east along the shore you will come to a rarely visited area with many small tide pools. Don't step on the wana (sea urchins). There is only one sure remedy to ease the pain and it's hard to pee on your own foot when you're screaming.
15. Leleiwi Beach Park T,S,SW,SN
Part of an area also called Richardson's Beach. Small black sand beaches in series, with good snorkeling and plenty of fish. Sit in the natural ocean-filled pools for a relaxing whirlpool. Very beautiful spot.
Please remember to always use common sense and practice safety at all times when
in the ocean. Here's a few good things to remember:
1. Never turn your back on the ocean. Never, ever, ever.
2. Never swim alone.
3. Never dive in an unfamiliar area. You may want to use your head again sometime.
4. Always check water conditions and respect warning signs. Being rescued is more fun on Baywatch than in real life. You're more likely to receive artificial respiration here from a big guy named Jimmy Boy than Pamela Anderson.
5. Don't go out further than you can swim back.
6. Don't pet the sharks.
L=Lifeguard T=Telephone R=Restroom S=Shower P=Picnic SN=Snorkel SW=Swim B=Boogieboard SF=Surf
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Hawaii, Kona, Kailua-Kona, volcano, dolphins, whales,
Puna, Kohala, Waimea, Eye of Hawaii, diving, Hilo, web services, graphic design, web design, kona coffee, Big Island
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