20 Jan
2011

The Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii (By Tom Barefoot)


Let's face it.... beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. One man's favorite beach is another man's second choice. Recognizing that deciding the Big Island's Best Beaches will always be a subjective decision, it is still possible to categorize beaches into their respective best categories with a likelihood of being correct in the same way many polls in politics or whatever present you with a probable likelihood within a margin of error. The following are the likely picks of the best beaches on the Big Island in their respective categories:

Best White Sand Beach on the Big Island: Hapuna Beach

Best White Sand Beach on the Big Island: Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach on Hawaii's western coast line wins this category hands down and we are not alone in this assessment as many travel magazines have rated this beach the best beach in the world in various recent years. (more)

Best Black Sand Beach on the Big Island: Punalu'u

Best Black Sand Beach on the Big Island: Punalu'u

Although Punalu'u Beach is distant from the major populated areas of the Big Island it is the largest black sand beach in the state of Hawaii and has a beauty and charm all its own. Punalu'u beach qualifies "big time" as the best black sand beach on the Big Island. (more)

Best Nude Beach on the Big Island: Kahena Beach

Best Nude Beach on the Big Island: Kahena Beach

Kahena Beach is a small and absolutely beautiful black sand beach located on the east facing coast on the Hilo side of the Big Island. For years it has had the reputation as being a nude beach and although this activity is not considered "legal" it proves out when taking a visit that its legend is no misnomer. (more)

Best Thermal Heated Beach on the Big Island: Ahalanui Beach Park

Best Thermal Heated Beach on the Big Island: Ahalanui Beach Park

Ahalanui Beach Park (also known as Pualaa) wins the prize as the best thermal heated beach on the Big Island. This amazing series of hot pools located just off the coast is a natural wonder on the Big Island. (more)

Most Picturesque Beach on the Big Island: Maniniowali Beach

Most Picturesque Beach on the Big Island: Maniniowali Beach

Manineowali Beach, also known as Kea Bay, wins our award for the most subjective of all categories, the most picturesque beach on the Big Island. A more perfect white sand beach would be hard to imagine. (more)




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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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.

more

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".

more

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.

more

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.

more

Here's a collection of Tom's Tour Tips on the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.

more

View Comments

User Comments are a new feature: Be the first to submit a Comment!