You may have heard that all the best Hawaii beaches are on other islands. Not so fast! It's true: there are fewer sand beaches on the Big Island per mile of shoreline than on any of the other islands. But the Big Island is massive, bigger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined, with 266 miles (428k) of shoreline. Many Big Island beaches are among the best you will find anywhere, period. This is especially true along the sunny west coast.
One of the more well known Hawaii Beaches is Hapuna Beach, often recognized in travel magazines among the top beaches anywhere in the country. But we have our favorites, and there are plenty of other pristine, soft sand beaches on the Big Island to consider.
We'll tell how to find all the best beaches on the Big Island, including some real gems north of Kailua-Kona along the Kona-Kohala coast; beaches close to Kona, Keauhou, Kealakekua and Honaunau; Family-Friendly beaches with wading pools perfect for toddlers, and favorite beaches along the southern coast of the Big Island.
Do you have a favorite Big Island beach? Tell us about it and share your images!
A Young Island
Because the Big Island is younger than any of the other Hawaiian Islands, the beaches have had less time to fully develop. But this is also one of the things that makes beaches on the Big Island some of the most unique and scenic of all Hawaii beaches.
You will find everything from pristine, powdery white sand beaches, to course salt & pepper sand beaches, to fine black sand beaches, and even green sand. With a little exploring you can discover an amazing array of beauty, character and charm in Big Island beaches.
The water along the west coast can be outrageously clear and calm, making for the best snorkeling in all Hawaii. In particular you will find amazing Big Island snorkeling opportunities at Kealakekua Bay, Kahalu'u Beach Park, and Honaunau Bay (Two Step). Keep an eye out for humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Reef Triggerfish), the Hawaii state fish (below).
As tantalizing as the clear, blue, calm Pacific (peaceful) ocean appears, it is that very surf that poses the greatest potential danger along our Hawaii beaches. Know before you go! The surf in Hawaii is very strong, and rip currents can form without warning. Understanding basic Hawaii beach safety will make for a more pleasurable experience, and help to ensure that you return home happy and healthy.
Experience the unique charm and beauty of each of these Big Island Hawaii beaches, listed beginning with the furthest north from Kailua-Kona:
Spencer Beach Park
Large beach with gently sloping sand adjacent to Kawaihae Harbor. Good swimming, lots of shade, full facilities. Tent camping with permit. Spencer Beach Park is 34 miles north of Kailua-Kona.
Mauna Kea - Kauna'oa Beach
A beautiful, long crescent of fine white sand with crystal-clear water; one of our favorite beaches on the Big Island. Excellent swimming, snorkeling, full facilities. Mauna Kea Beach is 32 miles north of Kona.
Widely considered one of the best beaches in the country. 1/2 mile-long golden sand beach with excellent swimming and boogie boarding, easy access, full facilities. Hapuna Beach is 31 miles north of Kona.
Beach 69 - Waialea Beach
Gorgeous, secluded golden sand beach, gentle slope, good swimming and snorkeling, very scenic with lots of shade. Showers and restrooms. Waialea Beach 69 is 30 miles north of Kona.
Come explore this beautiful gem adjacent to the Waikoloa Beach Marriott. With a long, palm-fringed crescent of sand, Anaeho'omalu Bay is stunningly picturesque and rich in Hawaiian history.
Another long crescent of white sand in the Hualalai Resort area. Very scenic but not great swimming. Lots of tide pools with sea turtles along the shore. Kuki'o Beach is 13 miles north of Kona.
Stunning in its peaceful beauty, a very quiet, soft sand beach lined with palm trees. Pristinely calm clear water in a protected cove, great for swimming or wading. Kikaua Beach is 13 miles north of Kona.
Kua Bay - Manini'owali Beach
A popular beach with easy access. Picturesque, fine white sand that slopes gently into the clear blue water. Great swimming and boogie boarding. Restrooms and showers. Kua Bay is 11 miles north of Kona.
One of the most gorgeous beaches anywhere. Uncrowded, long powdery white sand beaches, coves, tide pools and shade. Makalawena Beach is 10 miles north of Kona in Kekaha Kai State Park.
Mellow and secluded, Mahai'ula Beach has a long crescent of sand in a beautiful bay. A great place to explore with decent swimming. 10 miles north of Kona at the southern end of Kekaha Kai State Park.
Honokohau Beach and Ai'opio Beach
Part of Kaloko-Honokohau National Park, Honokohau is a long crescent of salt & pepper sand with magnificent views, decent swimming. Ai'opio is calm, peaceful, scenic. Rich with history and just 3 miles north of Kona.
Old Kona Airport Beach Park
This series of beaches is easy to access just north of town. There's not an abundance of soft sand but some nice tide pools and a fabulous place to enjoy a Big Island sunset.
Immediately adjacent to and left of the pier in Kailua-Kona is a small patch of sand that is a good entry point for swimming or snorkeling in the relative calm waters of Kailua Bay.
Within easy walking distance of the Coconut Grove marketplace in downtown Kona, Honl’s Beach at Wai’aha Bay is a small yet scenic beach with soft white sand. And famous for its boogieboarding.
Pahoehoe Beach Park
A nice area for a picnic with benches, trees and lawn, or for watching a sunset. On Ali'i drive immediately north of Magic Sands, south of the 3.5 mile marker.
Magic Sands - La'aloa Bay Beach Park
Magic Sands is one of the nicer in-town Kona Beaches. Clean white sand with plenty of shade, decent swimming and popular with boogie boarders. Just north of the 4-mile marker on Ali'i drive.
Coarse salt & pepper sand, great swimming, calm water and nice picnic area. What Kahalu'u Beach Park is really famous for is the snorkeling. On Ali'i drive at mile marker 5.
This secluded and scenic beach park provides a relaxing alternative for those wishing to enjoy Kealakekua Bay in a more relaxed setting away from the crowds. A beautiful setting with an easy ocean entry.
Ho'okena Beach Park
A delightful, family friendly beach, south of Kona between mile markers 101 & 102. Fine salt & pepper sand, good swimming, snorkeling and boogie boarding. Full facilities. Tent camping with permit.
An awesome tide-pool area just 6 miles north of Kona. Sandy beach with protected swimming and wading. Restrooms and showers. Turn near mile marker 94 toward the Natural Energy Lab.
Another delightfully calm cove with magnificent views, south of the Old Airport Beach Park. Protected from the open ocean, this tide-pool area is fun for toddlers to wade in yet deep enough to soak.
Located just right of the pier in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona. Nice pocket of sand, a very safe Hawaii beach with gentle water but no shade.
Green Sand Beach - Papakolea
A stunning beach worth the hot, dry walk across 2.25-miles (3.6-kilometers) of coastal pastureland. Bring plenty of water. Turn onto South Point Road between the 69 & 70 mile markers on Highway 11.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach
Punalu'u is among the finest black sand Hawaii beaches. And you are almost certain to see Honu (green sea turtles) lounging here. Off of Highway 11 between mile markers 55 & 56.
With so many interesting beaches on the Big Island, which is your favorite?
What makes it special?
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Click below to see what other visitors have said about Big Island Beaches...
Kikaua Beach - Smooth white sand and crystal clear ocean Not rated yet
Kikaua Beach is the best!