Welcome to the paradise of the Big Island of Hawaii, where pristine beaches and stunning landscapes await you. Hawaii’s Big Island is known for its diverse range of beaches, from powdery white sands to dramatic black sands, each offering its own unique charm and beauty. Whether you’re seeking a secluded spot to unwind or an adventurous destination for water activities, the Big Island has it all.
In this article, we will explore the eight best beaches on the Big Island, highlighting their distinctive features and why they are worth exploring. From the golden shores of Waialea Beach to the secluded cove of Makalawena Beach, get ready to indulge in the tropical splendors that await you on this island paradise.
Whether you’re a sunbather, a surfer, or a nature lover, the Big Island’s beaches offer something for everyone. You can spend your days lounging on the soft sands, swimming in crystal-clear waters, snorkeling amidst vibrant coral reefs, or simply enjoying breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
It’s important to note that some of the beaches on the Big Island might require some effort to reach. However, the journey is often as rewarding as the destination, as you’ll pass through lush forests, rocky lava fields, and scenic coastal views. So, pack your beach essentials, grab your sunscreen, and let’s dive into the top eight beaches that await you on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Waialea Beach (Beach 69)
Located on the west coast of the Big Island, Waialea Beach, also known as Beach 69 due to its proximity to mile marker 69 on Highway 19, is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of beauty and seclusion. This stunning white sand beach is fringed by swaying palm trees and surrounded by lush greenery, creating a picturesque tropical paradise.
What sets Waialea Beach apart is its calm and clear turquoise waters, making it ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and paddling. Snorkelers will be delighted by the vibrant marine life and beautiful coral formations just a short swim away from the shore. From colorful tropical fish to graceful sea turtles, there’s a whole underwater world to explore.
Another highlight of Waialea Beach is its abundance of shady spots under the trees, perfect for picnicking or simply relaxing and enjoying the serene ambiance. The beach is equipped with picnic tables and restroom facilities, ensuring your comfort during your visit.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the rocky outcrop on the northern end of the beach known as Queen’s Bathtub. This natural tide pool offers a unique swimming experience and is a great spot to cool off and take stunning photos.
It’s important to note that reaching Waialea Beach requires a short hike from the parking area, adding to its secluded charm. The trail takes you through a lava field, offering glimpses of the island’s volcanic history along the way. Don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes and carry drinking water.
Whether you’re seeking a tranquil sunbathing spot, a snorkeling haven, or a scenic picnic location, Waialea Beach is a must-visit beach on the Big Island. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and serenity of this hidden gem and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Situated on the Kohala Coast, Hapuna Beach is one of the most iconic and popular beaches on the Big Island. With its expansive stretch of powdery white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, it’s no wonder why this beach attracts visitors from all over the world.
Named one of the best beaches in the United States by Dr. Beach, Hapuna Beach offers endless possibilities for fun and relaxation. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, take a refreshing swim, or try your hand at boogie boarding, there’s something for everyone here.
The beach’s gentle sloping shoreline and calm waves make it perfect for swimming, even for inexperienced swimmers. The turquoise waters are usually clear and provide excellent visibility for snorkeling, allowing you to observe a variety of colorful fish and fascinating marine life.
Hapuna Beach is not only a haven for beachgoers but also offers various amenities to enhance your visit. You’ll find ample parking, restrooms, showers, picnic areas, and even rental services for beach equipment. Whether you need a beach chair, umbrella, or snorkel gear, you can easily rent them nearby, ensuring a comfortable and convenient beach experience.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, consider exploring the rocky areas at both ends of the beach, where you can discover tide pools teeming with small marine creatures. These unique ecosystems provide an opportunity to learn more about the island’s fascinating coastal habitats.
Visiting Hapuna Beach during the winter months might reward you with the chance to spot humpback whales breaching in the distance. These magnificent creatures migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters to give birth and raise their calves, making for a truly awe-inspiring sight.
It’s important to note that due to its popularity, Hapuna Beach can get crowded, especially during weekends and holidays. To maximize your enjoyment, consider arriving early in the morning or choosing a weekday visit. Remember to bring sunscreen, as the sun can be intense, and stay hydrated throughout your beach adventure.
Hapuna Beach is a must-visit destination for beach enthusiasts and offers a slice of paradise on the Big Island. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, water activities, or breathtaking views, this beach has it all, promising an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
If you’re looking for a remote and untouched beach experience, Makalawena Beach is the perfect choice. Nestled along the rugged coastline of Kekaha Kai State Park, this hidden gem offers a secluded paradise far away from the crowds.
Getting to Makalawena Beach requires some effort, but the journey is well worth it. You have two options to access this stunning beach: a scenic hike or a 4×4 drive. If you choose the hike, be prepared for a moderate 2.5-mile trek through rocky terrain and over lava fields. The trail rewards you with surreal coastal views and a sense of adventure. Alternatively, if you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive along a rough unpaved road that leads you directly to the beach.
Once you arrive at Makalawena Beach, you’ll be greeted by its dramatic beauty. The beach boasts turquoise waters, powdery white sand, and towering coconut palms swaying in the ocean breeze. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility.
Makalawena Beach is less frequented by tourists, giving you the opportunity to have a peaceful and private beach experience. It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, picnicking, and simply unwinding while listening to the soothing sound of the waves.
If you’re an adventure seeker, grab a mask and snorkel and explore the vibrant underwater world near the shore. Makalawena Beach is known for its pristine coral reefs and abundant marine life, offering a fantastic snorkeling experience. Swim alongside colorful tropical fish, spot graceful sea turtles, and marvel at the diversity of the coral formations beneath the surface.
It’s important to note that Makalawena Beach is undeveloped, meaning there are no facilities or amenities available. Be sure to pack everything you’ll need for your visit, including food, water, sunscreen, and any beach gear or equipment. Leave no trace behind and help preserve the pristine beauty of this secluded oasis.
Makalawena Beach is a hidden paradise on the Big Island that rewards the adventurous with its untouched beauty and tranquility. Whether you choose to hike or drive, the journey to this remote beach is an experience in itself. Immerse yourself in the serenity of Makalawena Beach and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Prepare to be amazed by the unique and awe-inspiring beauty of Papakolea Green Sand Beach, one of the most extraordinary beaches on the Big Island. Located on the southern tip of the island near South Point, this natural wonder will leave you in awe with its captivating green sands.
Papakolea Beach gets its distinctive green color from the presence of olivine, a rare volcanic mineral found in the surrounding cliffs. Over time, the erosion of these cliffs has created a stunning crescent-shaped beach covered in fine green sand, making it a truly remarkable sight to behold.
Accessing Papakolea Green Sand Beach requires a bit of effort. From the parking area at South Point, it’s about a 2.5-mile hike along a rugged trail that can be challenging at times. It’s recommended to wear sturdy shoes, carry plenty of water, and be prepared for the hot and sunny conditions. Alternatively, there may be locals offering transportation in their trucks for a fee.
Once you arrive at Papakolea Beach, you’ll be rewarded with a secluded and surreal landscape. The vibrant green sands against the backdrop of the deep blue ocean create a mesmerizing contrast that you won’t find anywhere else. Take your time to soak in the beauty, explore the beach, and even swim in the clear waters if conditions allow.
While swimming is possible at Papakolea Green Sand Beach, it’s important to note that the currents can be strong and the shoreline can be rocky. It’s recommended to exercise caution and only swim if you’re a confident swimmer. Be sure to observe any posted signs or warnings and ask locals for advice if needed.
To fully appreciate the magnificence of this natural wonder, consider taking a leisurely stroll along the shoreline or find a spot to relax and enjoy the peaceful ambiance. It’s an excellent spot for a picnic, so bring along some snacks to enjoy while taking in the mesmerizing views.
Remember to respect the fragile ecosystem and leave no trace behind. Papakolea Green Sand Beach is a precious natural treasure, and it’s important to do our part in preserving and protecting this unique beach. Take all rubbish with you and avoid damaging or removing any rocks or sand.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach is a true marvel of nature. Its rare and captivating green sands make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly unique beach experience. Prepare to be amazed by the extraordinary beauty that awaits you at this incredible beach on the Big Island.
Anaehoomalu Bay (A-Bay)
Anaehoomalu Bay, affectionately known as A-Bay, is a picturesque beach located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. With its palm-fringed shores, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets, A-Bay is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike.
Upon arrival at A-Bay, you’ll be greeted by a long stretch of golden sand and gentle waves that invite you to take a dip. The beach offers a variety of activities, making it ideal for families, water sports enthusiasts, and those seeking relaxation.
If you’re looking for adventure, hop on a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak and explore the calm waters of A-Bay. Paddle your way along the coastline, taking in the stunning views and perhaps even spotting marine life such as dolphins or sea turtles. Several rental shops nearby offer equipment and lessons for those who want to try these exciting water activities.
The reef break near the bay attracts surfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, you’ll find waves that suit your abilities. If catching waves isn’t your thing, simply sit back and enjoy watching the surfers ride the rolling swells.
For snorkeling enthusiasts, A-Bay is a great spot to explore the vibrant underwater world. Grab your mask and fins, and venture into the clear waters to discover an array of colorful fish, coral formations, and perhaps even some sea turtles. The snorkeling here is relatively easy, with the reef located not too far from the shore.
A-Bay is also known for its beautiful sunsets. As the day draws to a close, find a comfortable spot on the sand and witness the sky transform into a canvas of stunning hues. The combination of fiery oranges, soft pinks, and deep blues creates a mesmerizing spectacle that is truly unforgettable.
Facilities at A-Bay include ample parking, restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. There are also resort amenities nearby, including restaurants and beachfront bars where you can grab a refreshing drink or a bite to eat.
Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Anaehoomalu Bay offers a little bit of everything. Spend your day exploring the waters, soaking up the sun on the sandy shores, or simply marveling at the beauty that surrounds you. A-Bay is a beach destination that will surely leave you with fond memories and a desire to return.
Kua Bay (Manini’owali Beach)
Nestled along the Kona Coast, Kua Bay, also known as Manini’owali Beach, is a hidden gem that boasts pristine white sands, turquoise waters, and a vibrant tropical atmosphere. This beautiful beach is a local favorite and offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
As you approach Kua Bay, the dazzling blue hues of the water and the glistening white sand will immediately captivate your senses. The beach is accessible via a short walk down a sandy path, revealing the stunning panoramic view of the bay.
Kua Bay is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, making it an excellent spot for swimming and snorkeling. The calm waves and relatively shallow depths make it ideal for all levels of swimmers. Snorkelers will be treated to a colorful underwater world, mesmerized by the vibrant coral reefs and an array of tropical fish.
If you’re in the mood for some adventure, bring along a boogie board and ride the waves. Kua Bay is known for its fantastic boogie boarding conditions, with waves that provide just the right amount of fun and excitement.
Be sure to pack everything you’ll need for the day, as there are no facilities or amenities at Kua Bay. Bring ample sunscreen, water, and snacks, and be prepared to take your trash with you when you leave. It’s important to help preserve this natural paradise and leave no trace behind.
One of the highlights of Kua Bay is its stunning sunsets. As the day comes to an end, find a cozy spot on the sand and watch as the sky is painted with hues of pink, orange, and purple. The breathtaking sunset views at Kua Bay are truly unforgettable.
It’s worth noting that the beach can get crowded on weekends and holidays, so consider visiting during weekdays or early in the morning to have a more peaceful experience. Parking can also be limited, so arrive early to secure a spot.
Kua Bay is a true gem on the Big Island, offering a combination of natural beauty and thrilling water activities. Whether you choose to relax on the sandy shores, snorkel amidst the vibrant marine life, or catch some waves on a boogie board, Kua Bay will leave you with cherished memories and a longing to return to its idyllic setting.
Kekaha Kai State Park (Mahai’ula Bay and Makalawena Beach)
Located along the Kona Coast, Kekaha Kai State Park is a haven for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts. This expansive park is home to two stunning beaches: Mahai’ula Bay and Makalawena Beach. Together, they offer a diverse range of coastal landscapes and opportunities for exploration.
Mahai’ula Bay is the first beach you’ll encounter when entering the park. This crescent-shaped bay features soft golden sands and calm turquoise waters. The beach is framed by swaying palm trees and offers a serene and tranquil setting. It’s perfect for picnicking, sunbathing, or simply enjoying a leisurely swim or snorkel in the gentle waves.
From Mahai’ula Bay, you can embark on a scenic hike to reach the second beach, Makalawena Beach. The hike takes you through a rocky path, across lava fields, and amidst dune vegetation, offering a unique and immersive experience in nature. The approximately two-mile hike is rewarded with the enchanting beauty of Makalawena Beach.
Makalawena Beach is a secluded paradise that feels untouched and remote. With its powdery white sands and transparent waters, the beach exudes an air of serenity and tranquility. It’s an ideal spot for nature lovers, sunbathers, and those seeking solitude amidst nature’s beauty.
Both beaches in Kekaha Kai State Park are relatively undeveloped and lack facilities, so it’s essential to come well-prepared. Pack your own food, water, sunscreen, and any beach equipment you may need. Remember to leave no trace behind and respect the natural environment.
Take the time to explore the natural wonders of the park. Hike along the trails and catch glimpses of the diverse flora and fauna that call this place home. Keep an eye out for native bird species, sea turtles along the shore, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins playing in the distance.
Kekaha Kai State Park is a hidden gem on the Big Island, offering a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of nature. Whether you choose to relax on the tranquil shores of Mahai’ula Bay or venture off the beaten path to discover the secluded paradise of Makalawena Beach, you’ll find yourself in awe of the natural wonders that await you in this coastal haven.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Prepare to be mesmerized by the striking beauty of Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, one of the most unique and captivating beaches on the Big Island. Located on the southeastern coast, this beach stands out with its contrasting black sands, turquoise waters, and dramatic backdrop of lush greenery and coconut palms.
The black sand of Punalu’u Beach is a result of the volcanic activity in the area. The fine grains of dark volcanic rock, also known as basalt, create a visually stunning contrast against the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a truly otherworldly sight that you won’t find on many other beaches.
Aside from its distinctive sands, Punalu’u Beach is renowned for its abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for the endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles, or honu, that frequently sunbathe and feed along the shoreline. These gentle giants are protected by law, so it’s important to admire them from a respectful distance.
While swimming at Punalu’u Beach is not recommended due to strong currents and rocky shoreline, the beach provides an excellent opportunity for beachcombing and exploring. Take a leisurely stroll along the sand and marvel at the unique lava formations and tide pools that dot the beach.
Picnic tables and barbecue facilities are available, making Punalu’u Beach a perfect spot for a beachside lunch or an afternoon gathering. Enjoy your meal while taking in the breathtaking views and the soothing sound of the waves crashing against the shore.
When visiting Punalu’u Beach, it’s important to remember that the beach is a fragile ecosystem. Help protect this unique natural wonder by observing any posted signs or guidelines, and be sure to take all rubbish with you when you leave.
Another notable feature of Punalu’u Beach is the nearby freshwater spring, which creates a small brackish water pond. This pond is known as a popular bathing spot for locals and can offer a refreshing break from the saltwater of the ocean.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is a must-visit destination for beach enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Its magnificent black sands, diverse wildlife, and serene ambiance create an unforgettable experience. Take your time to explore, appreciate, and connect with the raw natural beauty of this extraordinary beach on the Big Island.
The Big Island of Hawaii is a treasure trove of stunning beaches, each with its own unique charm and beauty. From the golden sands of Waialea Beach to the remote paradise of Makalawena Beach, there’s a beach for every beach lover on this magnificent island.
Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or a chance to immerse yourself in nature’s wonders, the Big Island’s beaches have it all. Dive into crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life, lounge on powdery white sands while soaking up the sun, or explore hidden coves and lava formations that tell tales of the island’s volcanic past.
Each beach offers an opportunity to create unforgettable memories. Snorkel alongside colorful tropical fish, witness sea turtles basking in the sun, or capture the beauty of a mesmerizing sunset painting the sky with vibrant hues. Whether you’re an avid water sports enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone seeking relaxation and tranquility, the Big Island’s beaches have something for everyone.
When exploring these beaches, it’s important to respect and protect the natural environment. Practice responsible tourism, leave no trace behind, and be mindful of any guidelines or regulations in place to preserve the beauty of these coastal gems. By doing so, we can ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the splendor of the Big Island’s beaches.
So, pack your beach essentials, grab your sunscreen, and embark on a journey of beach-hopping and discovery on the Big Island of Hawaii. Explore hidden coves, revel in the beauty of unique sands, and let the mesmerizing turquoise waters wash away your worries. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a little of both, the Big Island’s beaches will leave you with cherished memories and an undeniable love for this remarkable destination.