Don’t be discouraged by the stark, black, lava fields that you see when you land at Kona International Airport. The Big Island of Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Swaying palms, whispering waves, soft breezes scented with flowers, warm sand, crystal clear aquamarine ocean water, and sparkling sun; what more could you want in a beach? Our Big Island Beaches come in a rainbow of hues and a wide range of sizes. From swimmer friendly to sunning only, from easily accessible with parking and showers to a found at the end of a bone jarring ride down a lava trail, we have it all. Here are some of the favorites:
The Prince of the Big Island beaches is located just south of the Hapuna Prince Hotel at the Mauna Kea Resort. Public access is from the highway at mile marker 68. Hapuna is a beautiful long white beach with facilities. It is great for families and is quite swimmable, especially in the summer. It can be hard to find parking on a weekend, but this is the classic Hawaiian beach!
Mauna Kea Beach:
This beautiful white crescent was chosen by Conde Nast as one of the World’s Best Beaches twice! Access is controlled by the guards at the Mauna Kea Resort guard shack by issuing a definitive number of beach passes on a first come, first served basis. It is best to arrive early if you want to be sure to get a beach pass. Fortunately, Hapuna Beach is just south of Mauna Kea should you decide not to wait for the next available spot.
Spencer Beach Park:
Up the highway just south of Kawaihae, this beach is popular with campers. (You do need a permit!) the ocean is fairly swimmable here due to the offshore reef’s protective influence. The sand is golden and there are grills available for that beach cookout. The water can be a bit cloudy here.
This golden crescent beach, located within the Waikoloa Beach Resort, is the windsurfing capital of the Big Island. There are a lot of other great activities that are available here on Kona’s “Gold Coast” as well. Access is unrestricted, just park at the public access parking and walk in. There are lots of nice shady spots to enjoy under the trees if you tire of the sun. Some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever find!
Located north of the airport just across the highway from the West Hawaii Veteran’s cemetery, this stunning beach park is a favorite of local families and parking goes fast on weekends, so you may have to park beside the road on the way in and hike, but it is worth it. The waves can get big here and you’ll see lots of boogie boarders riding them in. Picnic tables and facilities are available. The colors of the water are amazing when the sun shines. It’s a favorite hangout place for Humpback Whales in February and March–watch for dozens of spouts just off the shore.
This series of three perfect white crescent beaches is only accessible via 4 wheel drive or you own two feet if you value your vehicle. This is that bone jarring, teeth rattling adventure I mentioned previously. If you can get there, plan to spend the day as it is so beautiful you’ll never want to leave. There are no facilities, so bring plenty of water and your lunch.
At the north edge of Kailua-Kona, this beach ranges from rocky coast to sandy tidal pools. A great place to get your toes wet, play with the kids or watch the local kids catching the waves on their boogie boards. Picnic tables and showers are available, and there’s a nice walking track as well!
White Sands Beach: (aka Magic Sands)
This popular beach right on Ali’i Drive south of Kona is always busy. During periods of high surf, the beach often disappears for a time and then returns with calmer weather—like magic! Just to the north of the beach area on the other side of the former Jameson’s Restaurant is a great little park (Pahoehoe State Park) for a picnic with tables and lots of shady spaces.
Kahaluu Beach Park: (aka Turtle Beach)
This black sand beach located just north of the Outrigger Keauhou Resort is known for great snorkeling and turtles love to surf in the waves right along with you! The reef offshore offers protection from big surf, so this is a good area for families to snorkel. Good surfing is just a short paddle out.
Pololu Black Sand Beach:
A worthwhile hike to get to this great black sand beach–rivals Waipio as one of the most beautiful places on the Big Island.