Beaches of Hawaii’s Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island features some of the most picturesque and varied beach landscapes in the islands. Here you’ll find not just white sand beaches but black sand and green sand beaches with olivine crystals. And along with beautiful resort beaches, the Big Island also has rugged, off-the-beaten-path sands that are wild, remote and rewarding.
Hamakua Coast Beaches
Kolekole Beach Park: Nineteen kilometres north of Hilo on the Hamakua Coast you’ll find this jungle garden by the ocean, with a nearby stream lined with smooth lava rocks and a waterfall. A banyan tree leans over the river with a rope swing.
Onekahakaha Beach Park: A favourite with locals, this small, shallow sand-bottomed ocean pool just east of the Hilo Airport is one the safest swimming areas along the Hilo coast, with tidal pools and inlets. Perfect for family snorkelling, it also offers lovely views of Hilo Bay.
Richardson Ocean Center/Lelewi Beach Park: The shallow bay fronting Richardson Ocean Center is the most popular snorkelling site on the east side of the island. The centre, which is three kilometres south down Kalanianaole Avenue from Onekahakaha Beach, has picnic pavilions, restrooms, parking and showers.
Punaluu Black Sand Beach : 30 miles south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the Big Island’s famous black sand beach and a great place to see honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) basking on the shore. An adjacent campground is popular with local families and fisherman.
Kohala Coast Beaches
Anaehoomalu Beach: This stretch of Kohala Coast beach next to the Waikoloa Beach Marriott is a place to rent kayaks, hydro bikes and body boards or to snorkel, scuba dive or sunbathe. There is ample parking, along with picnic facilities and public toilets. A historic Hawaiian fishpond also hugs the beach.
Hapuna Beach : The largest white sand beach on Hawaii’s Big Island, this world-renowned beach is located adjacent to the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. There is ample parking with public toilets and picnic facilities.
Holoholokai Beach: This small beach park with full facilities near the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii isn’t a sandy beach, but it’s a beautiful place to explore tidal pools and snorkel. It’s a short walk from the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve, where you’ll find hundreds of ancient carvings in the lava rock.
Kaunaoa Beach: This near-perfect crescent of sand leading to calm water has been voted among the Top 10 beaches in the US by Conde Nast’s Traveler magazine. Adjacent to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, parking spaces are limited, so it’s good to arrive early.
Kahaluu Beach: Located just south of Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) in the Keauhou area, Kahaluu Beach is known for honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) that frequent its shores. This is one of the Keauhou and Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) area’s most popular beaches, great for snorkelling.
Laaloa Beach: Also known as Disappearing Sands and Magic Sands, this white sand Kona beach is located on Alii Drive just south of Historic Kailua Village. This popular pocket of sand is great for splashing in the surf, body-surfing and body-boarding. There are toilets, showers and a lifeguard, but limited parking. This small beach may disappear overnight due to tidal shifts or strong surf, but always returns.
North Kohala Beaches
Samuel Spencer Beach Park: Popular among families, this North Kohala beach, located a half-hour north of Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona), is well protected by an outside reef, which allows for calm swimming and snorkelling waters on most days. The beach park has picnic pavilions, tables and barbeque grills and is within walking distance of Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site.
Note: Heed all warning signs and be aware of changing conditions, strong currents and reefs. Use your own best judgment to determine whether a particular beach is appropriate for you and your ability level.