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7 Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii

September 9, 2021

Coronavirus Travel Updates

Hawaii

Hawaii, North America, Travel Guides, USA

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! From the classic soft, white sand beaches to the unique black and green sand beaches, it’s truly one of the best islands to visit for a beach escape. The Big Island beaches are full of crystal clear waters, tropical fish, wild dolphins, and hundreds of sea turtles. And the best part is, you don’t even have to leave the United States to experience it all!

*Keep in mind: A lot of the beaches in Hawaii are really rocky and there are also a lot of sea urchins in between the rocks, so please be extra careful and pay attention while you’re getting in the water.

7 Best Beaches on the big island of hawaii:

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Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay):

Manini’owali Beach, or Kua Bay, was our favorite beach on the island! The sand is so soft, the water is a beautifully clear turquoise blue, and the waves are really fun to play in. There also aren’t as many rocks on the shore break as a lot of the other beaches on the island, so it’s the perfect beach to go to if you want to play in the waves. It’s also really easily accessible. There’s lots of parking, outdoor showers, and a little area with picnic tables, so it’s a great beach to spend the day at. It’s popular among locals too, which means it can get pretty crowded on the weekends, so if you can, plan to visit this beach on a weekday! It’s close to the airport too, so if you want to stop at one more beach before your flight out or if you’re like us and like watching planes fly overhead, this is a great beach to hang at!
 

Hapuna Beach:

Hapuna Beach is one of the more popular beaches on the island and is often voted the Best Beach on the island of Hawai’i. It’s about forty-five minutes north of Kailua-Kona and is the longest white sand beach on the island. It’s almost always sunny, which makes it a great beach to visit no matter what time of year you visit! It’s a state beach, and there is a large parking lot, which makes it really easy to visit and a great really family friendly beach. Because of that, it’s definitely busier, so you’ll want to get there earlier in the day, but it’s still a beautiful beach with lots of sand and room to relax and play on the beach. There are also picnic tables, a large grassy shaded area, a lifeguard on duty year round, and outdoor showers, so it’s easy to spend the entire day here. It’s also great for swimming, because the waves aren’t too rough and there’s usually not a very strong current here. Hapuna Beach is also a great beach to visit and watch the sunset!

Makalawena Beach: 

Makalawena is probably our second favorite beach on the island, because it is truly one of the most beautiful beaches on the big island of Hawai’i. It’s a little harder to get to, because it’s part of Kekaha Kai State Park and is about 30 minutes north of Kailua-Kona town. You’ll park at Kekaha Kai State Park and then it’s about a 20-minute walk from there. You have to walk across a lot of lava rocky, so be sure to wear sturdier shoes, even just more durable sandals, and bring some water with you. And it’s better to walk there in the morning or evening, because the black rock gets pretty hot in the middle of the day. You have to walk past Mahai’ula Beach, which is also a beautiful beach and definitely worth stopping and playing at on your way back. Once you get to Makalawena Beach, it’s pretty secluded, so it’ll likely be a lot less busy than some of the other beaches on the island. It has beautiful blue water and soft white sand to relax on. If you’re wanting to spend an entire day just relaxing on the beach, we’d suggest going to this one! Just be sure to pack lots of snacks and drinks! And remember to bring all of your trash with you! Mauna Kea Beach is on the northwest side of the island and about 45-minutes north of Kailua-Kona. It’s part of the Mauna Kea Hotel and is another one of the stunning white sand beaches on the island. Because it’s part of a hotel, there’s a restaurant nearby, so you don’t need to pack snacks like you do for some of the other beaches. It also has a lot of other amenities and activities that you can do, like stand-up paddle boards, snorkeling, and kayaking. You can also night swim with manta rays here! This is one of the best beaches to swim and snorkel in, because the waves are pretty calm and there’s lots of beautiful fish in the area. 

Mauna Kea:

Mauna Kea Beach is on the northwest side of the island and about 45-minutes north of Kailua-Kona. It’s part of the Mauna Kea Hotel and is another one of the stunning white sand beaches on the island. Because it’s part of a hotel, there’s a restaurant nearby, so you don’t need to pack snacks like you do for some of the other beaches. It also has a lot of other amenities and activities that you can do, like stand-up paddle boards, snorkeling, and kayaking. You can also night swim with manta rays here! This is one of the best beaches to swim and snorkel in, because the waves are pretty calm and there’s lots of beautiful fish in the area.

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Waipi’o Black Sand Beach North:

One of the things that makes the beaches on Hawaii so unique is that there are a few different black sand beaches. The black “sand” is actually little pieces of lava. One of the most amazing in our opinion is Waipi’o Black Sand Beach. It’s a bit more difficult to get to though. It’s about an hour and a half from Kailua-Kona on the north end of the island. Drive to Waipio Valley, and then you can park at the top and hike down, or you can take a four-wheel drive vehicle down, but it’s a very steep hill, and a lot of rental car companies prohibit you from driving your car down, so be sure to check your rental agreement before you drive down. Be prepared if you hike down though, because the hike back up is very steep and exhausting. Once you get down to the beach, there are beautiful waterfalls streaming down both sides. There are also some beautiful horses down here! Another popular black sand beach on the island (that’s a lot easier to get to but on the opposite side of the island) is Punalu’u Beach.
 

Kuki’o Beach:

Kuki’o Beach is just to the north of Kikaua Point Park near Kailua-Kona and is another beautiful, white sand beach. It’s also home to so many green sea turtles, so it’s the perfect place to visit if you want to see sea turtles in their natural habitat! We loved watching them swim right up to the shore. Be sure to bring snorkel gear with you, so you can spend some time swimming with them (but don’t touch them) and seeing the beautiful fish around the area too! It’s not the best beach for swimming, because there are a lot of lava rocks in and around the water, but it’s definitely worth visiting at least to see some sea turtles and play in the tide pools!
 

Papakolea Beach:

Papakolea Beach is a green sand beach located near the South Point of the island. It’s not very easy to get to, so if you plan on visiting, be prepared to spend the day getting there, hiking down to it, and then driving back. It’s about five miles round trip and takes about an hour and a half just to hike down to the beach, so be prepared with lots of water, snacks, and sunscreen. You’ll probably want to spend the majority of your day here since it’s such a hike to get to it, but since it’s so remote, you’ll also likely have the beach to yourself! Be careful entering the water here though as the current and undertow can be very strong. Papakolea Beach is one of only four green sand beaches in the world, so it’s definitely worth visiting!
 

Traveling to the Big Island? Check out our full Big Island Travel Guide here!

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