The Best Beaches in Hawaii Big Island

Ok, this year you deserve a really special vacation. Preferably chilling out on a beautiful beach, watching azure blue seas lapping onto golden sand.
But where to go?

For the best beaches you’ve got to look further afield than Florida or Southern California. Instead think the Hawaiian islands, for the beaches here have a true tropical paradise feel. And the best Hawaii island to pick? Well, Hawaii itself. Not only are the beaches here beautiful, but you can also visit the awe-inspiring Volcanoes National Park.
Now just to show you how wonderful the beaches on the Big Island are, here’s a top 5 selection to give you some real inspiration for your vacation.

#5 Waipi’o Beach

Waipi’o Beach cannot be recommended for sunbathing or swimming. Come here to admire the magnificent scenery, and the glorious landscape. The beach marks the end of the impressive Waipi’o valley – surrounded either side by high-reaching densely-vegetated mountains.

It’s a very steep road down into the valley, not suitable for most cars, so the best idea is to park at Waipi’o Lookup, and walk down about a mile to the beach. When you arrive, you’ve a real treat in store. The stroll along the black lava sand comes with superb views – either side the beach is hemmed in by tall cliffs, with cascading waterfalls.

You can also walk back into the valley, along a rough path which follows the river. It’s a wonderful twisting and turning hike with several chances to stop and admire the impressive vistas.

#4 Green Sand Beach

Green Sand Beach is found at the very southern tip of the island. Green Sand Beach is located at South Point, the southernmost tip of the Big Island. Park your car at the end of the road. Be prepared for quite a hike to the beach – it’s over 2 miles to the beach along the rough road that follows the coast. Carry a generous supply of water – you might not see anyone for the next 3 or so hours, let along find a shop selling soda.

When you’ve been walking for about a mile, the Puu Mahana cone rises into sight. The beach you’re heading for lies inside the rim of the cone. When you finally get there, make sure to walk up the the summit of the cone for the marvellous ocean and island views.

Retrace your steps to get back to the turnoff down to the beach. Be careful as you make the steep descent, as it can be slippery in places.

The beach itself is amazing. The sand consists of fine grains of bright green olivine volcanic glass. After you’ve finished admiring the geology, jump in for a swim – only if the waves are small.

#3 Makalawena Beach

To reach Makalena Beach requires a bit of a trek, which on hot days can be hard work. Before you set out to visit this magnificent beach, pack a backpack with plenty of food and water – there are no provisions available at this remote beauty spot.

In your car, take Route 19 northwards from Kailua-Kona, then turn left onto the rough access road for Kekaha Kai State Park (after mile 88). After a rough 1 mile, the road reaches a crossroads. Park your car on the small area available next to the intersection. Follow the path that leads right from the crossroads. (Straight on leads you to Mahaiula beach, left goes to Makolea beach – both are also worth a visit).

After a few minutes, you’ll arrive at the coast, where you can pick up the coastal trail. Turn right, to head north. The path now leaves the coast, across a rugged patch of black lava. It takes about 20 minutes to cross the lava, then you arrive at the southern end of Makalawena beach.

Phew! No wonder you’ll often have the beach to yourself. But the hike-in’s well worth it, because you’ve arrived at one of the most beautiful beaches on the Hawaiian islands.

Makalawena beach actually consists of 3 sweeps of sand, separated from each other by lava points. There’s lots of vegetation behind the sand, so if you want it’s easy to find a place out of the sun for your picnic.

The swimming and snorkeling are absolutely super. The water is pleasantly warm and, on calmer days, the underwater visibility excellent. Body and boogie-board surfers head for the last of the beaches – the surf is normally better there.

#2 Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach Hawaii is a gorgeous ½ mile curve of fine white sand set between black lava points. The far (northern) end of the beach is in front of the swish Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The hotel complex does tend to spoil the natural beauty of the beach (but if you’re actually staying in the hotel, you’ve a wonderful beach on your doorstep).

The public parking lot for the beach is just next to the sands at the southern end. A large sign on Hwy 19 marks the turn off. It can get very busy, so make sure you turn up early (or late) to be sure of a spot.

The seas off the beach are a water enthusiast’s dream. The swimming is enjoyable, the boogie-boarding exhilirating. Snorkellers will find the best sightings to be around the coral reef off the southern end of the beach.

If you’ve come to the public (State park) part of the beach, you’ll appreciate the useful facilities, including restrooms, showers, picnic tables and snack concession. There are also a number of very rustic cabins – book well before your holiday to secure one of these.

Believe it or not, some people get bored of lounging at the beach. These types might enjoy venturing along the Ala Kahakai Coastal Trail which passes through Hapuna beach. An ambitious target would be the walk to wonderful Mauna Kea beach, about 2 miles north.

#1 Kua Bay

Many people rate Kua Bay to be the most beautiful beach on the island, and it’s hard to disagree. The soft white sand of the beach slopes gradually into the turquoise blue seawater. At both ends of the sandy crescent, rocky lava headlands jut out into the water (if you’re snorkelling check out these rocky points – you’ll often see large parrot fish, and even turtles, but take care as it gets a lot choppier out towards the rocks). When you’ve been out in the sun too long, there are a few trees behind the beach which provide shady refuge, but it can be hard to find a comfortable spot, so it’s wise to take a sunshade.

The water’s easily warm enough to make swimming a complete joy – the more energetic can boogie-board, or thrill themselves by jumping into the sea from the small offshore rocks.

Don’t hurry home from the beach in the evening – the sunsets are absolutely magnificent, as bright red and orange colors streak out from the sun and reflect in the clouds.

Ideas For Away From The Beach
#1 Volcanoes National Park See the spectacular active lava flow at Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. Hike more than 150 miles of trails in the park.

#2 Hilo Historic Downtown Hilo is alive and bustling and the perfect place to enjoy an evening out. Enjoy the lush tropical scenery of Hilo Bay and Queen Liliuokalani Gardens.

#3 Tour of Mauna Kea observatory A fascinating and dare-we-say educational outing, but at 13796 ft, you may suffer a little altitude sickness

#4 A Walking tour of Kailua Includes the King’s summer home Hulihe’e Palace, an ancient heiau, and one of the first churches founded by missionaries over 180 years ago, Mokuaikaua Church.

#5 Enjoy a luau Corny it may be, but always great fun, whether a free luau in a shopping mall, an evening’s entertainment at your resort, or an authentic professional production.

Still Dithering?

Mull over the following clincher points:
Warm sea temperatures all year round (between 70F & 80F).
Beautiful sands overlooking crystal clear seas, backed by magnificent tropical greenery.
Great for watersports – swimming, surfing and snorkelling.
Ok, you’re not the sports type. Just laze around sunbathing.
Each beach has its own separate character.

Find more details about all the beaches at 100 Best Beaches.

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