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. This beach and bay are spectacular. It's not really all that far though as it is about the same distance from the Kona Airport to Kua Bay as it is in the opposite direction from Kona Bay to downtown Kailua-Kona. Taking the drive from Kona is truly worth it however because the beach is generally considered to be one of the very top beaches on the island. Years ago there was only a very difficult and rugged roadway making its way to this delightful location and so it was the haunt primarily of local families who knew about its treasures. About the mid-point of the first decade of the century a new paved road was built right to the beach making for easy access and great parking and now the beach is accessible to all.
Kua Bay is best visited in the early morning hours before the winds have a chance to fill in and on many occasions the waters at this time are absolutely crystal and shimmering with a cast of turquoise or variations of blue and green. The predominantly sand bottom provides for an easy access to the waters and on most summer days the conditions are idyllic. Caution must always be observed however because there is no life guard on duty at this beach. Winter time can be more dangerous as the swells can increase in size and frequency and become treacherous. More dangerous conditions are also often more prevalent in the afternoons as opposed to the mornings.
Maniniowali Beach has great parking, picnic tables and a restroom and showers but it is completely devoid of shade trees which means a day at the beach here means a day in the sun. Be prepared with an umbrella you can set up and once again, morning would be the best time to go so you won't have a problem keeping your umbrella from blowing away in the more breezy afternoons. Snorkeling is usually best in the mornings for the same reasons although snorkeling at Kua Bay is not its strong suit. Snorkeling areas can be found near the rocks on both ends but be careful not to get too close to the surge near the rocks. Just enjoying the clear waters for a dip and a swim and frolicking in the surf is what this beach is all about and throwing in the white fluffy sand is like adding the whip cream to top off a perfect desert day at the beach.
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.