The following 7 beaches are our favorites. They are very accessible from your location at Kona Onenalo and for the average one week stay they provide more than enough options. But, the Kona-Kohala Coasts have a raft of wonderful beaches, some at the major hotel resorts and some hidden away in obscure locations. For more information consult "The Big Island Revealed", which has the definitive and exhaustive guide to beaches on the Big Island.

Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach is 45 minutes north from Kona on the main highway near mile marker 69. If you have the time it is worth the trip as this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Hawaiian Islands, even being ranked by some travel services as among the top ten beaches in the world! A half mile long and 200 yards wide, it has ankle deep white sand and a gradually sloping shore break. Afternoons here can be very windy, with blowing sand, so plan to do this in the morning and leave after your picnic lunch.

Kahalu'u Beach Park

Kahalu'u Beach Park is one mile south from our house along Alii Drive. It is perhaps the best "beginners" snorkeling spot in the Hawaiian Islands. Protected by a perimeter reef of volcanic rocks, it is almost a lagoon and teeming with sea life including a wide variety of reef fish and turtles. The beach itself is not particularly attractive for hanging out and sunbathing, but the snorkeling and swimming is unmatched.

Kaloko-Honokohou Fish Trap

Kaloko-Honokohou Fish Trap is adjacent to the Honkohohau Harbor and boat marina. To reach it you drive down the entrance road to the Honokohau Harbor and take the first right turn. Follow this road around the boat yard and go to the end of the parking lot. The entrance to the park is on your right and clearly marked. Park there and follow the signs to the Fish Trap. You will emerge on a broad sandy beach with very calm waters. This is a wonderful place to take small children. There is a deli and restaurant in the Marina.

Kua Bay

Kua Bay is one of the "secret beaches" near Kona. Until very recently it was only accessible by hiking in from the highway, or driving over a very rough four wheel track. There is now a paved road all of the way into the beach, where there is a small parking lot and public bathrooms and showers. Locals keep tearing down the signs to Kua Bay, so you need to know how to find it. Driving north (about 20-25 minutes) on the main highway you go a couple of miles past the entrance to the Kona Airport. Between mile markers 89 and 88, you will see a clearly marked entrance to the Veterans Cemetery on the RIGHT side of the road. Directly opposite this entrance you will see a paved road on the LEFT side of the highway. Take this road and wind all of the way down to the beach parking lot. This beach is a real jewel of deep white sand and a gradually sloping water entry. It is ideal for swimming, sunbathing (and people watching!). On weekends you must arrive early to find a parking space and a patch of clear sand as this spot is very popular with the "locals." As with all of the other west coast beaches, Kua Bay is not swimmable in periods of high surf.

Kukio Beach

Kukio Beach is accessed by entering the Kukio Resort which is located north on the main highway at approximately the 87 mile marker. If you reach the Hualalai Resort entrance (The Four Seasons) you have gone one left turn too far. By Hawaii state law, the resort must make public access available to the general population. They control this by building limited parking lots and closing access when these are full, so this is another beach that you must plan for an early arrival, at least on weekends. The setting is idyllic and never crowded. The real attraction here is the natural ocean lagoon at the south end of the Kukio beach. This perfectly calm, shallow, saltwater pool formed by a reef of volcanic rock is ideal for small children and the elderly or infirm. It has a wide swath of sandy beach and a gently sloping sandy bottom. From the lagoon on the south end of the beach, you can walk all of the way along the Kukio beach front and even farther north into the Four Seasons resort where there is actually a paved walkway along the shoreline. Along the way you will see some of the most exclusive and expensive private beach house properties in Hawaii. The main beach at Kukio is quite beautiful and perfect for sunbathing but not particularly conducive to swimming.

Makalawena Beach

Makalawena Beach is a bit more challenging as it can only be reached by about a 30 minute hike over the lava from Kekaha Kai State Park. For sheer beauty, this is worth the adventure as the Makalewena "beach" is actually a series of beautiful scalloped sandy bays fringed by palms and other indigenous trees. The entrance to Kekaha Kai is clearly marked on the main highway between mile markers 89 and 88 just short of the entrance to Kua Bay. You will drive 1.6 miles down from the highway on a very, very rough road. At 5 mph, this drive seems to take forever, but in fact only takes about 15 minutes. You reach Makalawena by parking in the Kekaha Kai parking lot and walking north. The path is not signed (at last look) but if you persist walking north you will find a cluster of red roofed shacks. Walk directly across the front yard of these buildings and along the edge of the ocean. You will first come to a beautiful little sandy cove. This is the beach at Kekaha Kai and you are now about half way to Makalawena. The intrepid among you will continue walking north and you will soon come to a vast expanse of lava. Follow the clearly marked lava trail across the lava field and into the sand dunes at the other side. The Makalawena beaches are in front of you. Words of caution: you must wear sturdy footwear, NOT flipflops; you should take head covering and water with you; the footing on the lava trail is treacherous and this is not a hike for the faint hearted, small children, the elderly, or infirm.

White Sands

White Sands—also known locally as "Magic Sands"—is one of the premier body surfing beaches on the Kona Coast. Located 300 yards from our house, it is a small crescent of white sand with a sandy bottom shore break. The locals call it Magic Sands because in periods of high surf, the sand can disappear and reappear over night. On calm days this beach is also OK for children and swimmers and ideal for sunbathing, but generally the wave action is more conducive to body boarding and body surfing. Between our house and the beach is also a small rocky cove (our house actually fronts on this cove) and this is a very good snorkeling and scuba diving spot. It's called "four mile" by the locals because of its proximity to the 4 mile marker on Alii Drive. Entry here is over rocks and is suitable only for experienced snorkelers and divers.

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