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. The beach is long and it is wide. The sand is a luscious golden color. The sand extends out into the water so the water entry here is very simple. Actually the beach remains remarkably shallow for a long way out and it takes a while just to wade out to waist deep. Snorkeling is good but really only at the two extreme ends of the beach at the rock promontories. Long distance swimming is great here as you can swim a very long way parallel to the beach without having to get far away from shore. Paddle boarding and kayaking are also perfect for this beach. Overall you simply have to admit that Mauna Kea Beach is stunning.
If there is a down side, it would be that you may not be able to go there unless you are staying at the resort or if you are one of the lucky twenty-five cars to arrive at the guardhouse at the entry of the Mauna Kea Resort. If so you will be given a pass to place on your windshield. Parking is free for you so long as there is a spot at all. Since this beach has been written up in all the travel books as a stellar beach and in fact one of the best in the world, there is no shortage of people wanting to spend a day here. In all likelihood you had best make your attempt to visit as early as you can in the morning or you will be barred until mid-afternoon. On the positive side, this policy which obviously was a compromise made between the hotel and the County, makes this beach one of the least populated great beaches on all of the islands. The beach is large and there is always room to pitch you blanket without having to be close to others. If you truly want to go to this beach but can't get a "pass" you can take an approximately one-mile walk from the north end of Hapuna and pack in.
The conditions on this beach itself are usually fairly "beachgoer friendly" except for certain days in the winter months when the surf can get large and the currents can get strong. Unfortunately there are no lifeguards on this beach so you would do best to find one of the beach boys from the hotel and ask about the conditions of the ocean before you enter.
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 first asking a beach boy from the hotel about ocean conditions on the day you are there. 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.
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