Activities: Beach

Fun, Sun, and Relaxation!

The big island of Hawaii (simply called ‘Hawaii’; Kona is on the western coast having much less rainfall, no hurricanes or tsunamis that its rival Hilo on the eastern coast typically suffers) is a geologically young island. For this reason there is not as much sand as some people would picture a tropical island to have. But the beaches are certainly here …

NOTE: Our most favorite beach and, only about 5-10 minutes by car from Lako House is called Kahalu’u Beach Park … Near mile marker #5 on Ali’i Drive, just south of St. Peter’s Catholic Church … It is the last beach on this beaches list below (scroll ALL the way down) …

Hapuna Beach:

This beach is probably the Big Island’s most famous beach. It has been mentioned as one of the finest beaches in the nation by various sources (but locally it is not really our favorite because of long drive, traffic coming back and strong winds at time). It’s strong points are a well cared for park grounds and decent beginner level boogie boarding (not to mention a lot of sand). There is some snorkeling around the rocks at the ends. I went there on New Year’s Day and there were probably 3000 people there (spread out, it’s a big beach) but I’ve seen as few as a couple dozen or so in the off season. It is located roughly 30 miles north of Kailua in the Kohala region of the island.

Spencer Beach:

This beach is located just a couple miles north of Hapuna Beach near Kawaihae. Spencer Beach Park has good facilities and the beach has a more local feel. Camping is available. There is a trail off the pavilion on the south end which leads to a small nice beach about a 10 minute walk down the trail.

Waialea Bay:

Driving into Puako (south of Hapuna) you’ll see Old Puako Road. It is lined by telephone poles which are numbered. At pole number 71 you will see a dirt road with a “government property, no commercial activities” sign. The pole used to be numbered 69 so the beach is commonly referred to as “Beach 69”. Take the road, by auto or foot, to the beach at the end. This is one of my most favorite beaches in the picturesque category. There is another small beach a couple hundred yards north you may notice in the distance which is accessible by another dirt road. Waialea Bay has been scheduled for development as a park for a number of years, and it may happen yet some day.

The Waikoloa, Four Seasons and other resort areas have beaches:
Personally we are not overly wild about these beaches, but sure people staying there will appreciate knowing they are there.

Kua Bay and Makalawena Beach:

These beaches are accessible by 4 wheel drive roads located both north and south of a large cinder cone about half way between Kailua and Waikoloa on the makai (ocean) side of the highway. Kua Bay is a nice little beach on the north side of the cinder cone – you’ll be hearing a lot more of this beach in the next few years as they begin to develop around it. Makalawena beach is a grouping of 3 nice sandy beaches on the south side of the cinder cone. If you are looking for pristine and uncrowded -this is the beach for you. This beach is another of our favorites. It’s about a half mile long and often draws “crowds” of 6 to 8 during mid-week. This beach has more sand than most beaches in the area and actually has small dunes on the mauka (mountain) side. Due to the large amount of sand it’s not a recommended beach for snorkeling (fish tend to be where the rocks are) close in, but it’s a great beach for sunning and frolicking. It is also reachable by a 15 minute walk across the lava from the Kona Coast Park.

Kona Coast Park:

The beach here runs from ok to wow. Located a few miles north of the airport take the pothole friendly road to the end to find the ok beach. It’s big and uncrowded, but it isn’t the finest sand available within 5 minutes. If you want to visit the nicer beach just walk down the beach to the north and you’ll find it…or… park your car at the wide spot in the road a hundred yards before the end of the road near some outhouses and take the trail to the beach.

A very, very, very few of you may remember this beach from the network TV hit show “Wind over Water” featuring Bo Derick many years back- it was cancelled after two weeks I believe. This is another of my favorite beaches, and it’s fairly close to town. On the north end of the beach is an old house. Go up to it and look for a small trail through the bushes leading to some small brackish water ponds and the old “King’s Trail” across the lava. A 15 minute walk will take you to Makalawena beach- TAKE WATER, the lava field gets you hot and thirsty.

Natural Energy Lab and Pine Trees area:

The natural energy lab (NELHA), located just south of the airport, has a beach and tidepool that families with young children like a lot. The beach is straight ahead of the entry road to NELHA. To the south (left at the end of the road) you’ll find a very rough road to the “Pine Trees” area (popular local surfing and homeless camping spot) where there are some decent uncrowded beaches.

Kaloko/Honokohou area:

There is a small beach down a small road makai of the highway across from the Kaloko industrial district (Costo and other businesses- just north of Kailua). Not crowded and somewhat historic. On the north end of Honokohou harbor you’ll find a fairly large beach area to check out.

Old Airport Park:

Yet more sand here. Not the best swimming area due to lava rock and a bit of surf, but a popular local hangout. Located at the north edge of town off Kaiwi and Makala streets. Snorkeling is ok (actually snorkeling is ok almost anywhere you can get in the water off Kona) at the bay off the north end of the old runway- may get a bit choppy in the afternoons.

There are beaches in town:
Snorkeling, swimming and boogie boarding are available – Check it out.

A couple of our most favorites in Kona are located south of town:
Here’s the very brief synopsis of some of the beaches south of Kailua.

Napo’opo’o beach: 

Not the world’s best beach since hurricane Iniki hit in ’92. Used to be great, but now the “only” attractions are that it’s one of the world’s best places to swim with wild dolphins and it has historic significance.

Manini Beach:

Not great sand, but nice view and good snorkeling.

Keei Beach

Nice sand, nice tidepooling and ok snorkeling, etc. Nice local feel.
Place of Refuge picnic area.

Ho’okena Beach: 

Another of my personal favorites. Great, fine gray sand, decent snorkeling, swimming and boogie boarding. Dolphins on sunny afternoons. Camping and a nice “local” feel. Some facilities available. To get there drive to Ho’okena town and you’ll see a big sign pointing to the beach – now for the tricky part – the sign points down someone’s driveway. Don’t go down the driveway. About 50 yards past the sign there is a nice road which which goes the 3 or 4 miles down to the beach.

Pebble Beach at Kona Paradise: 

Kona Paradise is a subdivision a few curvy miles south of Ho’okena town. Turn down into the subdivision and you’ll find a road reminiscent of a cross between an alpine slalom run an San Francisco’s Lombard Street. Ten minutes later you can get out of your car and let the smoke from your brake pads clear and you’ll be at Pebble Beach. Some refer to this as a black sand beach, but it’s more of a black gravel beach- pea sized gravel. It makes a real neat whooshing sound as the waves recede.

Further south: 

Yes there’s more, it’s a nice place, but they’ll be a bit of a trip. Milolii has areas to picnic and get into the water also.
South Kona Beaches and Snorkeling

City of Refuge (Puuhomua o Honaunau)

In ancient Hawaii culture, the City of Refuge was the place were those who broke Kapu (taboo) could be pardoned (if they reached there alive). Now a National Park, there still remains a boat launch and snorkel area outside the park border which usage is free. This area borders Kealakekua Bay, which is a Fish and Wildlife Preserve, and consequently snorkeling is excellent.

To reach the City of Refuge, take the belt highway (11) south to Honaunau. Take a right turn towards the shore at the sign for “Puuhomua o Honaunau”. Followthe road past the scenic lookout and make a left turn into the National Park.Then, before reaching the entrance booth, make a right turn into the boat launcharea. Park along the road, and look north of the launch for steps in the rocks which make an fairly decent entry into the water.

Napoopoo Beach Park

Napoopoo can have a great sandy beach at times but strong winters swells can also remove the sand and leave it rocky; this can change year-to-year. It is still suitable for great snorkeling, as Napoopoo also borders Kealakeua Bay. From here you can swim to the Captain Cook Monument, the point were natives slayed Cook as he was attempting to return to the island.

To reach Napoopoo Beach Park, take the belt highway (11) south to the town ofCaptain Cook. After passing the Trail Rides on the left, look on the right forthe turnoff to Napoopoo. Follow the windy road down toward the shore, making a right turn where straight would wind back toward the highway. At the shorethe road Tees. Take a right turn and another 100 yards brings you to the beachpark. If you were to take a left, you would follow a narrow road which goes south along the shore and eventually winds up at the City of Refuge.

Disappearing Sands Beach Park

Between Kahaluu Beach Park (see last entry below) and Kailua-Kona on Alii Drive, this beach park (also known as White Sands) is known for it’s body surfing. The name comes from the fact the the sand disappears each winter and returns in the spring. Generally crowded, it’s not a good spot for beginners.

To reach Disappearing Sands Beach Park, following the directions to get to Kahaluu Beach Park. Then continue traveling north on Alii drive for a couple of miles more till you come to the park.

Kahaluu Beach Park

Kahalu’u, a Family Beach / Snorkel Kahalu’u Kahaluu is one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island (see some pics below and many more via a google image search).

Fed by a fresh water spring, up to 10 million gallons per day, these waters are almost always calm, with colorful corals, rock formations, and 100+ species of fish. Swim with huge schools of colorful fish and green sea turtles in these protected waters; don’t forget your underwater camera! The north end of the beach is where the waves break and is best for body boarding and surfing. Check the water conditions; when ocean swells are present, the water can be murky.

In the days of the Hawaiian kings, with many of the islands’ beaches having dangerous surf and riptides, King Kamehameha wanted a safe place for his family to enjoy the ocean. He had his workers construct a seawall in the surf to protect a small cove on the sunny side of the Big Island. This cove today is known as Kahaluu Beach Park – one of the most popular swimming and best snorkeling sites in the Kona district. The beach is salt-and-pepper colored sand with lots of shady trees surrounding it. There is a sandy entrance to the water for snorkelers on the north side of the beach. Often, you can see turtles swimming the shallow waters right from the beach or while you walk on the sea wall!

The best snorkel route is to head to the southwest, towards the lava rock breakwater (aim for the pavilion restaurant) – this keeps you swimming against the current. Swim against the current on your way out, that way you are swimming with the current on your way back to shore. Try to head out to the lava rocks into as shallow water as possible – once you get into about 2-feet or less of water, the coral reef is pristine and the underwater life is spectacular. The coral reef is most prolific out here, in the shallow water adjacent the lava breakwater. Also, most of the tourists will stay closer to shore – so if you make it out here, it will be just you, the coral, and the colorful fish! Slowly swim to the North as the current pushes you that way. As you circle through the deeper water on your way back to the beach, you will more than likely see some green sea turtles swimming. Enjoy the great snorkeling!

Kahaluu is well visited because of the calm, protected waters – perfect for families and kids. Because of its popularity, parking can be hard to find, so come early! The shallow, clear waters are abundant with sea life. Shady trees surround this beautiful sandy beach. Facilities include a pavilion, rest rooms, showers, a lifeguard tower, and limited parking. This beach is baby stroller accessible. Concession stands and beach rental gear stores are located nearby. A narrow path takes you directly to the Outrigger Resort’s beach bar & grill, which serves sandwiches and plate lunches. Young kids will love to play in the sand and the shallow water as turtles crawl up on the beach next to them. Older kids and teenagers will enjoy the wonderful snorkeling.

To reach Kahaluu Beach Park: 

At the intersection with stoplights on the belt highway between Kailua-Konaand Kealakekua, turn on King Kamehameha III toward the shore and follow until it intersects Alli Drive. Turn right and the beach park is visible within 100 Yards. Kahaluu Beach Park is located 5 1/2 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Ali’i Drive, at the 5-mile marker, just south of Magic Sands Beach and near the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort.

Activities (on-site or nearby):

Golf, Tennis, Shopping, Sightseeing, Restaurants, Sailing, Swimming, Snorkeling/Diving, Surfing, Biking, Fishing, Cinemas/Movie Theaters.

Other Activities:

Walk, Drive or Transit to Shopping & Dining, Drive by car to nearest in-town shopping or dining is less than 5 minutes away, Downtown is 5-10 minutes away, The closest Beach (Kahalu’u Beach Park) is about 5-minutes by car. In the Kailua-Kona area, the nearest beaches are along the road called Ali’i Drive, five courses nearby Golf Courses, ten other courses on the western side of the island, and another four courses in the Hilo area.

Aloha from Lako House

We look forward in hosting your group at Lako House 🌴

Rev. 15 Oct 2020