Kekaha Kai Beach Park including Mahaiula and Makalewena Beaches


If you're the type who enjoys a bit of 4X driving ( 2X drive if you're careful ) and hiking with your beach enjoyment Kekaha Kai Beach Park may just be the spot for you. The beaches found here, Mahaiula Beach, and its sister beach which is a twenty minute hike further north called Makalewena Beach are the first truly incredible white sand beaches to be found close to Kailua-Kona.

Mahaiula Beach

Mahaiula Beach

Located between mile marker 90 and 91 north of the Kona Airport you will come across an unpaved and often difficult to maneuver road that will lead you for one-and-one-half miles over and through what must be one of the most desolate, barren and rugged yet most interesting topographies on earth, a Hawaiian lava flow. After what seems to be an eternity (probably just a half an hour) you will come to a parking area where you will leave your car as you make your short trek to Mahaiula Beach. A four wheel drive vehicle will manage this drive the best however a number of regular cars can be found at the parking lot as well. Not hitting high center on your car is an art however as will be obvious when you view the extended drips of oil bursts on the road that were caused by someone rupturing their oil pan when not successfully negotiating the road but should you make the journey there without incident you will be rewarded by a beautiful series of beaches.

Be careful on the lava road to Mahaiula and Makalewena Beaches in Kekaha Kai Beach Park

Be careful on the lava road to Mahaiula and Makalewena Beaches in Kekaha Kai Beach Park

After a short walk from the parking area you will be able to arrive at the north or the south end of Mahaiula Beach. Save yourself the trouble and just head to the south end beach and you will arrive at the incredibly beautiful white sands of Mahaiula. You're fantasy's of a desert island will come true here as the clean and clear waters of Mahaiula Beach will send you into a state of "vacationers ecstasy". If you arrive on a weekday you will probably have much of the beach to yourself (on weekends and holidays the local population will be out in greater force) and the gods in charge of beaches in this area have provided plenty of overhanging trees and branches to provide you with shade when you need a reprieve from the delicious sun which glistens off the beautiful waters.

Makalewena Beach

Makalewena Beach

If this beach pleases your sensibilities you might want to conjure up the energy to hike just another fifteen minutes more on a trail along the lava to what our long time Kona resident friend and charter boat captain calls "the most beautiful beach on the island", Makalawena Beach. This beautiful beach is two half-moon shaped beaches joined at the tips to form one spectacular white powdery sand beach. Since you've invested a bit of time to get in this far you would be wise to have planned to haul in enough necessities to allow you to make it through a few glorious hours on what may for all intents and purposes be considered the "end of the earth" in a timeless nirvana.

Aside from being beautiful Makalewena and Mahaiula Beaches can be dangerous!

Aside from being beautiful Makalewena and Mahaiula Beaches can be dangerous!

Now, for the flip side of nirvana. Though the ocean can be idyllic at both Mahaiula and Makalawena beaches, it can also be the reverse with large and treacherous waves and difficult rip-currents. In addition to being beaches that have no life guards at all with very few other souls around to assist at a time of serious ocean problems, you also need to remember that you are essentially hours away from any signs of modern civilization or medical assistance. You're on your own out here so you have to be smart with regard to your relationship to the ocean in this area. Strong waves and shore-breaks have even been known to scoop people directly off the beach here and drag them into the water. You're safest and wisest play is to not even enter the water at all. Each day here, and in fact each hour here, can be different and an ideal setting can change to horror in an instant so be mindful of your location at all times. The old saying about Hawaii beaches "when in doubt, don't go out" goes double here. Take this heeding seriously.

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. 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 this location.




Big Island Beaches

This may be a first experience for you, but if it is it certainly won't be your last. Ahalanui Park pool is actually a thermal heated spring fed swimming area that is partially natural and partially man made.

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When you speak of Anaehoomalu Bay on the Big Island's Waikoloa shoreline you are talking about history of the first magnitude in Old Hawaii. This bay was a spot of large population primarily because of its ocean resources and its spectacular fishponds.

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As viewed from the air, the next beautiful beach to be found north of the Mauna Lani in Waikoloa is the gorgeous beach found in front of the Fairmont Orchid Hotel.

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Hapuna Beach is practically a legend on the Big Island. In fact many people believe that Hapuna Beach is the most beautiful beach to be found here, and a good case could certainly be made for that.

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Isaac Hale Beach Park is really quite a different type of beach park. Essentially it is divided into two sides. On one side is the only loading boat ramp on the entire Puna coastline.

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Perhaps the very best and the most famous beach for snorkeling on the Big Island is Kahalu'u Beach Park. The variety and volume of fish found at Kahalu'u will rival any spot in Hawaii.

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One of the most famous black sand beaches in the world was found in the area called Kalapana in the district of Puna on the Big Island. "Was" is the operative word here as this beach was completely covered by lava in 1990.

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Kehena Beach in the Pahoa district of the Big Island is amazing for a couple of reasons: First because of the spectacular nature of the beach itself, and secondly because of the people who tend to go there.

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Kikaua Point Beach is a tiny but very beautiful beach that is located about ten miles north of Kailua-Kona. Kikaua Beach is perhaps the calmest beach on the Big Island being protected from the open ocean by a series of huge boulders and rocks that provide a rim for the pond-like beach within.

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If you're searching for a beach with excellent swimming, great snorkeling and crystalline brilliant clarity, Kukio Beach is probably not the beach for you.

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La'aloa Beach Park in the town of Kailua-Kona is also referred to as Magic Sands Beach, White Sands Beach and Disappearing Sands Beach. Though its Hawaiian name has implications suggesting it is a beach of sacred nature the other three more popular names refer to the propensity of the beach to lose its sand each winter and early spring to the currents, waves and storms that extract the white sands from the shoreline portion of the beach and temporarily deposit them further out to sea exposing dangerous exposed rocks in the process.

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The single most beautiful beach closest to Kailua-Kona that you can get to without having to travel on an unpaved road over lava is Maniniowali Beach which is also known as Kua Bay.

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Mauna Kea Beach ranks right up at the top of great beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is very close to its sister beach of Hapuna and shares many of the same attributes.

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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.

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The Old Kona Airport landing field became obsolete in the early 1970's but the one-mile landing strip still exists. This huge stretch of asphalt lies right next to the ocean just north of the city of Kailua-Kona and today serves as the gigantic parking area for the Old Kona Airport Beach.

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Many beaches are great for swimming but that is not true of this beach. Pololu Beach is located at the entrance of the Pololu Valley which is the last in the series of valleys beginning with Waipio Valley that guard the northern flank of the Big Island of Hawaii.

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Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is the largest black sand beach in the state. Located south of the Volcanoes National Park on the coastal Highway 11 it is a beach that is basically fairly far from populated areas and most people will decide to enjoy a quick visit when they take the southern route to visit the volcanoes if they are staying in the Kona region.

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If it wasn't for the fact that Spencer Beach was located so close to Hapuna and Mauna Kea Beach, it would receive more notoriety than it does. Although it is a beautiful white sand beach with a sand bottom allowing for an easy water entry, it just lacks some of the luster and beauty associated with its nearest beach neighbor.

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Waialea Beach is one of the most perfect all-around beaches on the Big Island's western coastline. One of the best things about the beach is that it is not located on or near a hotel so there is no problem with access directly from the road.

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One of the first signs you will see when you arrive at the Wawaloli Beach Park just north of the town of Kailua-Kona is a sign that says "Low Flying Aircraft, No Kite Flying".

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One of the oddest County parks on the Big Island is a small park called Whitington Beach Park. It is located at the 60 mile marker on the circle island Highway #11 and is a good spot to visit if you are traveling from Kona to visit the Volcanoes National Park.

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Related Information

The Big Island often gets a pretty bad rap when it comes to beaches. Yes, it is true that it is the newest of the Hawaiian islands and as a result it has not had enough geological time pass by to jump-start the laws of physics and allow nature to work its magic on creating the type of amazing beaches that can often be found on other islands of the Hawaiian chain.

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View Comments

Tanya Roberts

It was so worth it to do the hike to Makalawena. We went snorkeling in the bay and had a group of dolphins come right up to us. Hands down best part of our trip.