The South Kohala district has most of the beaches on the Big Island, and in aggregate are my favorite beaches on the islands. There are eight major beaches and one or two pocket beaches, plus the Puako shoreline. Each beach is unique and offers different things to do and enjoy. I will describe them from North to South.
Spencer Beach Park – This beach park is located just south of Kaiwaihae town and harbor. This is a family park, with camping and picnic areas. I am told that there is good snorkeling att his beach, but we have not spent a say here. Not one of my favorite beaches.
Below is Mau’ umaue Beach, this is a beach that is on our future trip list. It looks quiet and quite beautiful.
Above, the beach at Mauna Kea resort, with the Hualalai volcano in the background.
Mauna Kea Beach – Located next to the Mauna Kea Hotel, it is my favorite beach on the island. But, there is a fly in the ointment. You must park on the Mauna Kea Hotel property to gain access to the beach and there are only 40 spots dedicated for beachgoers. Although everyone has a right to beach access, these hotel chains have successfully lobbied to limit public access through parking spaces. If you want to enjoy this white sandy curved beach, get here before 9am, and forget about it on the weekend. This beach has clear water, sandy gently sloping bottom, and is a joy to frolic in or to swim laps. But this is also a great snorkeling beach. The right point has a nice wall out to the end of the point where you can swim along and enjoy a great variety of fishes and turtles. It is a safe beach for children.
Hapuna State Beach – Always voted one of the best beaches in Hawaii. The beach is a large arc, with beautiful white sand, and clear water that slopes gently with small wind waves always present. There is plenty of parking, and a nice concession stand above the beach. We always spend a day here when on the Big island. One of the things I do not like about this beach is the wind that comes down through the saddle and Waimea gaps. It can really whip the sand up at times. In winter, there are times where waves are large enough for some surfing.
Beach 69 – Not an entendre, just the mile marker where you find the access road to the beach. Actually though it is just before that mile marker where you access Puako road. It is a right off of Puako road, then the first left towards the beach where you see an unimproved parking lot. This beach is favorite of mine because the trees come right down to the water. You can spend more time at this beach as you can find refuge in the shade. The water is clear, snorkeling is great, and a lot of SUP boarders launch from here to explore the Puako shoreline. The last time we were here, someone even put up a rope swing. This a great beach.
Puako Shoreline – Between Hapuna Beach and the Mauna Lani Resort lies the community of Puako. Although there are no sandy beach areas, it is a great area to SUP board, dive, snorkel and to see turtles from the shore. On our last trip we took a guided kayak tour and it was great to see the coastline from the water.
Anaehoomalu Beach – this beach fronts the Marriott at Waikoloa and extends south for about a mile or so. It really is a number of beaches as you travel south. The cool thing about this beach is that as you walk south, you take a trail along the water edge through the vegetation and can find relatively secluded spots to sun bathe. Also, there are always turtles along this stretch of beach. This beach also has a lagoon and old Hawaiian fish ponds. In days long past, the commoners would take the catch from these fish ponds and run along the King’s trail all the way to Kailua-Kona, 30 to 40 miles to deliver the fresh catch to the nobility and royal class. It is good to be the king! But as a beach to enjoy clear water and sunbathing, it is not a favorite for us. The water by the shore always is churned up and windy.
Keawaiki Black Sand Beach – Less than 200 years ago lava flows ran from Mauna Loa Volcano to the sea between Waikola and Kailua – Kona. When lava enters the sea, the reaction with cold sea water is violent and the lava shatters into small grains. The prevailing currents then pile up these grains and create a black sand beach. At the same time, these grains also smother the existing coral formations where the white sand is created or existed prior to the eruption. It will take millenia to see these beaches turn white like the beaches further north and south.
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