Big Island Beaches Mauna Lani and Makaiwa Bay


Both Mauna Lani Beach and Makaiwa Bay are located in this same description because they are entered from the same public parking access parking lot. Both are quite beautiful and snorkeling is excellent at both but they require a fairly long walk to get to each.

The Hot, Long and Windy Path to Mauna Lani Beach and Makaiwa Bay

The Hot, Long and Windy Path to Mauna Lani Beach and Makaiwa Bay

Upon entering the Mauna Lani Resort area from the main north-south coastal highway connecting Kailua-Kona with the Waikoloa district you will be stopped at a resort gate post with official uniformed resort enforcement officers who will inquire about your intended destination. When you tell them you are seeking public access to the beaches there they will give you a pass and send you on a winding labyrinth of roadways to a very tidy and beautifully landscaped official parking area designated for beachgoers complete with bathroom. A long and windy asphalt pathway will then take you on a journey hundreds of yards long over open lava fields with interesting lava tube structures along the way and past fishponds which were once used in their aquaculture production of fish as a source of food. As this area is the very hottest and driest on the island you might considerer taking this trek early in the day, particularly if you intend to carry any quantity of beach gear in with you. An early day also works best in the sense that there are only twenty-five parking spots provided for visitors to this public beach and if they become full the guards protecting the gated communities here will not allow you in until someone else has left.

The Pathway Leads You to This Area of the Shoreline

The Pathway Leads You to This Area of the Shoreline

Upon your entrance to the ocean at a lava-strewn inlet you can walk some distance to the right to the beach in front of the Mauna Lani Hotel or you can choose to walk left an even greater distance along a pathway past another ancient fishpond to the beautiful Makaiwa Bay.

Mauna Lani Beach

Mauna Lani Beach

The Mauna Lani Beach is right in front of the hotel. The swimming area here is fairly small but it is very beautiful. Since this area surrounding the beach was designed for the use of the hotel guests you will see a long line of comfortable blue lounge chairs with sun shading lined up on the beach property. You will be allowed to spread out your blanket or towels on the sand area in front. The sand here is quite white in color and will lead you gently into the generally calm and clear waters of this beautiful beach. This fairly protected beach is surrounded by large lava rocks at the breakwaters making it generally a gentle and safe area to enjoy. Since there is no lifeguard presence here however you should take precautions when the seas are other than calm and the paid hotel beach attendants are courteous enough to inform you of inclement or dangerous ocean conditions if you walk up to ask them.

Makaiwa Bay

Makaiwa Bay

If you walk left upon reaching the lava inlet when first arriving at the ocean you will be able to walk to Makaiwa Bay and Beach which is fronting what was referred to by passing guests as the "owners beach" presumably because it was located in front of the private Mauna Kea Beach Club. This walk will take you past a beautiful fish pond and you can even see the type of slatted gates which are used to allow smaller fish to enter the pond from the open ocean. When you arrive at Makaiwa Beach you will soon realize what a gem this beach is. Although fairly small also, its accentuated half-moon shape opens up to a bay that simply beckons to be enjoyed. Your first moments in the water here snorkeling will almost certainly present you with a myriad of colorful fish and a half-hour snorkeling here may well be ample time to check off many of the species you will find on your Hawaiian reef fish card. Once again this beach does not have a lifeguard stationed so it is important that you pay close attention before entering and it would be best to ask one of the hotel attendants if it is safe to enter on a day when you are not certain.

Ocean Caution

Be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be dangerous including this one. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering any Hawaiian waters however it is not advised that you enter the water at this location without speaking to someone who knows the area. Also, all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water. There are no lifeguard towers at these locations.




Big Island Beaches

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Related Information

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