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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.