The Big Island
has many beaches, but in the Kailua-Kona and Keauhou area you will not find any broad
expanses of white sand beaches. The best beaches are along the Kohala coast.
We don't cover beaches here that require 4-wheel drive access.
Samuel Spencer Beach Park The water here is almost always calm so it is a good choice for families and is very popular with locals. This is one of the nicer beach parks where camping is allowed. There is often no lifeguard on duty. Located on highway 270 just past the intersection with highway 19. The snorkeling here is not great but is o.k. however, depending on the tide, it can be very shallow getting in and out so be careful not to scrape yourself on rocks or coral.
Kauna'oa Beach Located at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort, it is questionable as to whether this or the neighboring Hapuna Beach is the best beach on the island. It is long, with fine white sand and a gentle slope. The public access end is shady if you prefer. If you love laying on the beach, you will have difficulty ever finding a more idyllic setting than this. Enter through the gate to the Mauna Kea Beach Resort off Highway 19 and ask for public access parking. Public parking is limited so you have to get there early or just after someone else leaves to get a parking place.
Hapuna Beach State
Anaeho'omalu Beach Located at the Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort this long crescent-shaped course white sand beach is also known as A-Bay. It is excellent for swimming and sunbathing. We've also read about good snorkeling, but in the half dozen times we've visited A-Bay it was o.k. at best. Equipment rental and instruction can be arranged at the hotel's concessions, but they are relatively expensive. The hotel has preserved the adjacent ancient fishponds and Petroglyphs. Exit at Waikoloa Beach Drive. Turn left at the stop sign near the Outrigger Waikoloa Beach Resort and follow the signs to parking and beach right-of-way to the south of the resort.
Holoholokai Beach Park This is a rocky beach of black-lava rock formations but it is o.k. for snorkeling and sunbathing. Bathrooms, picnic tables, and barbecue grills are available in a well maintained area. Just before the beach park is Puako Petroglyph Park. The trail is 3/4 mile through brush to the area of lava containing ancient Hawaiian etchings. Off Highway 19 at Mauna Lani Hotel and Bungalows.
Kona Coast State Park The access road is pretty rough from Highway 19 but this is a nice spot for swimming and snorkeling.
Old Airport State Recreation Area This is a 120 acre site with a white sand beach and several small inlets that make it great for children. Tide pools contain varied ocean life.
Laaloa Beach Park Also known as Magic Sands or White Sands beach. It is also known as "Disappearing Sands" because it loses its sand during the winter when high surf occurs. But, the sand returns in the Spring to again produce a white sandy beach. There is always a lifeguard on duty and showers and bathrooms are available. Located on Alii Drive about 4.5 miles South of Kona.
Kahalu'u Beach Park Next to the Keauhou Beach Hotel at mile marker five south of Kailua-Kona on Alii Drive. Some claim this is the best place for snorkeling on the Big Island and you will almost always see turtles, but it can be very crowded. A strong rip current occurs during high surf so you must be cautious. There are rest rooms, showers, and a lifeguard here, but parking is limited. This beach was frequented by King Kalakaua whose summer cottage is on the grounds of the Keauhou Beach hotel adjacent to the park.
Keauhou Bay A small quiet beach where you can picnic and swim. While it is o.k. if you are staying nearby, we prefer several other beaches on the island.
Punalu'u Beach Park This is the most easily accessible black sand beach on the island (ignoring the approximately 60 mile trip from either Kona or Hilo). Cold fresh water springs just off shore feed it from the bottom and fresh water rises in the salt water. There are many sea turtles in the bay which can be easily seen from the picnic area to the right. Other than a souvenir shack used by several vendors at the back of the beach, the site is very picturesque.
Onekahakaha Beach Park This white sand beach is protected which makes it a favorite for families with small children. Lifeguards are on duty year-round. There are rest rooms, showers, and picnic pavilions. During high surf though it may be unsafe for swimming. Follow Kalaniana'ole Avenue east along the ocean about 3 miles south of Hilo.
Ho'okena State Park This is not a family swimming spot. It is down a narrow road. The beach is gray sand and water shoes are a must. However, fish are plentiful and snorkeling is good.
Leleiwi Beach Park This beach is adjacent to the Richardson Ocean Center. There are showers, rest rooms, and lifeguards. 2349 Kalaniana'ole Avenue; follow Kalaniana'ole Avenue east along the water about four miles south of Hilo.