The Sun's Intensity at Big Island Beaches is Extreme!


The Big Island is located south of the Tropic of Cancer. The sun's rays, this close to the equator are much more intense than many Hawaii visitors are used to. It only takes a matter of 20 minutes to get a sunburn and the likelihood of getting a burn at one of the Big Island Beaches is even greater.

The Big Island is located south of the Tropic of Cancer. The sun's rays, this close to the equator are much more intense than many Hawaii visitors are used to. It only takes a matter of 20 minutes to get a sunburn and the likelihood of getting a burn at one of the Big Island Beaches is even greater. The sun is intensified at the beach because the sun rays are not only beating down on you once, but they are reflected off the water and the sand to zap you with a second dose. In most cases you might not even realize the full extent of your sunburn for about 24 hours and by that time the damage to your skin will have already occurred and be irreversible. Sunburn and skin damage are particularly dangerous to children and young adults. Severe sunburn often occurs on the beaches of the Big Island and first and second degree burns are not uncommon. In addition to the burn, people also may come down with a fever, chills and a headache and if so a hospital visit is warranted. The steps needed to protect yourself from the sun's harmful effects are much easier to deal with than the damage that is caused by it.

The following are some of the things you can do to protect yourself from the sun on the Big Island beaches:

  • Visit the beach prior to 11am or after 3pm.
  • Try to get a base tan at home prior to arrival on the Big Island.
  • Visit the beach prior to 11am or after 3pm.
  • Many people think you are safe from the harmful effects of the sun on a cloudy day. This is not true and you can still get severe a sunburn.
  • Protective eye wear is essential to protect from glare. A hat should also be worn to protect the skull and face.
  • It is important to apply sun block that has a SPF of 30 or over. It should be waterproof and applied over the entire body. The sun block should be reapplied over the entire body once every two hours and again each time you come out of the water.
  • Some areas of your body are more susceptible to sun burn and extra sun block should be applied. These areas are the tops of your feet, the tip of your nose, your shoulders and your ears.
  • Use special lip protection, not regular body sun block, to protect your lips.
  • Children are particularly susceptible to sun burn and special precautions should be used in seeing that they do not get too much sun.
  • Because of the sun's reflection off both the water and the sand, don't be deluded into thinking that an umbrella alone is going to provide you with adequate protection from the sun.




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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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.

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

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