Places to See - The Beaches

The Big Island is the youngest of all the islands completely emerged from the ocean, and because of that, it does not have the extensive natural white sand beaches that the other islands have. It takes millions of years to make a white sand beach, but only a few hours to create a glistening black sand beach of which the Big Island has several. Many of the beaches on the Big Island are composed of mixtures of lava rock, sand, pebbles and stones and may or may not be suitable for swimming or snorkeling. But even given this, the Big Island has some of the best swimming and snorkeling beaches in the State, and also some of the most unusual beaches. The following is a smattering and is certainly not all-inclusive.

Green Sand Beach close to the southern tip of the island is covered with olivine
Green Sand Beach is in the process of forming from a volcanic cone containing large amounts of the semi-precious gem olivine
Another view of Green Sands Beach, one of the island's most unusual beaches
Green Sand Beach is not easy to find on your own, and even if you know where it is, you will have to be an expert at four-wheeling or have access over Hawaiian Homelands property to get there.

There are some beaches and beach areas that are still somewhat remote. This is changing as developers move in and build resorts next to the once isolated patches of sand. One of the few beaches not currently slated for development, although Bishop Estate, the landowner, could change its mind, is Makalawena.

Makalawena Beach is one of the island's best white sand beaches
Makalawena is about a mile from the lower Highway. You can walk in or drive your four-wheel drive to the Bishop Estate gate and walk the rest of the way

Makalawena Beach is an incredibly white sand beach trees
The sand at Makalawena is so white that it hurts your eyes
There are many ironwood trees at Makalawena Beach
Ironwood trees grow on Makalawena beach, so you will find the needles from these tropical evergreens intermingled with the sand
The beach is often deserted because it is hard to get to
The beach is often deserted, even though it is only a 20 minute walk over the lava from Kekaha Kai State Park

Most of the newest black sand beaches are on the windward side of the island. And one, the black sand beach at Kaimu, was the most famous black sand beach in the world. It was destroyed in a 1990 lava flow. You may see remnants of it if your travels take you to Puna. Please do stop at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach as it was created by the explosions of lava as it entered the sea and, unlike on other islands, has not yet been eroded by the sea.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is beautifully lined with palm trees
It is possible to swim at Punalu'u, as the beach is very accessible
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is halfway between Kailua-Kona and Hilo and well worth seeing
The sand glistens black at Punalu'u
Turtles abound at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach
Even though you can swim, it's more fun to turtle watch at Punalu'u. If you watch carefully, you will see turtles everywhere

Kekaha Kai State Park is very lovely with at least two swimming areas on the main beach and a lovely very private beach a short walk along a path to the North.

Kekaha Kai State Park is accessed by a rough gravel road
Either way you look, the beach is lovely
Beyond the group of palm trees at Kekaha Kai State Park is the walking path to Makalawena Beach

Beach camping is a local habit on the Big Island. Wherever you go, no matter how remote you think it is, expect to find other people. All of remote areas on the island are known to the local residents. Residents will "four wheel it" to spots that most of us would think impossible to travel over by vehicle.

The beach area at Mile Marker 79
Mile Marker 79 is a great place to camp, and a well-known spot for local shore fishermen to fish. The only way to get there with your gear is to drive your four-wheel drive vehicle over the lava rock. There is no road.

Hupuna State Park is one of the largest white sand beaches on the island and easy to get to. All beach amenities can be found here. Restrooms, showers, campsites, lifeguards, food and drink, tables and access for the disabled.

Hapuna Beach State Park can provide some good surf

The beach that I often go to is the Old Airport State Park, right around the corner from downtown Kailua-Kona. It's got tide pools to soak in, nice sand to lie in, and even a jogging trail. The beach is long with pavilions, restrooms, tables and shade trees, and it often is not raining there when it's raining all around town. Swimming is tough, but the public pool is right next to it. It's a beautiful pool and it's free.

Old Airport State Park is part of Kailua-Kona town