Where are the best Hawaii beaches? You might be surprised to learn that some of the best beaches in the world are right here on the Big Island. The Big Island is massive, bigger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined, with 266 miles (428k) of shoreline. So while there may be fewer natural sand beaches on the Big Island per mile of shoreline than on other Hawaiian Islands, the sheer size of the island means there are a lot of beaches.
Some Big Island beaches are among the best you will find anywhere, period. This is especially true along the sunny west coast. Among the more well known Hawaii Beaches, Hapuna Beach is often recognized in travel magazines as one of 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:
What's your favorite Big Island beach? We're always curious what our readers have to say.
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Because the Big Island is younger than any of the other Hawaiian Islands, beaches on the Big Island have had less time to fully develop. This is also one of the things that makes Big Island beaches 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 a fine black sands beach, and even a green sand beach! With a little exploring you can discover an amazing array of beauty, character and charm on Big Island beaches.
Experience the unique charm and beauty of each of these Big Island Hawaii beaches, starting with the most northern beaches and heading south:
Spencer Beach is a large beach with gently sloping sand next 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 Beach is one of the best beaches on the Big Island, a beautiful, long crescent of fine white sand with excellent swimming, snorkeling, full facilities. Mauna Kea Beach is 32 miles north of Kona.
Hapuna Beach is considered one of the best beaches in the country. 1/2 mile-long golden sand beach, excellent swimming, boogie boarding, easy access, full facilities. 31 miles north of Kona.
Waialea Beach 69 is a gorgeous, secluded golden sand beach with gentle slope, good swimming and snorkeling. Very scenic with lots of shade, showers and restrooms. Beach 69 is 30 miles north of Kona.
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.
Kuki'o Beach is 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. 13 miles north of Kona.
Kikaua Beach is a peaceful, soft sand beach of stunning beauty. Calm, clear water in a protected cove lined with palm trees. A great family beach for swimming or wading. 13 miles north of Kona.
Manini'owali Beach is a popular beach with easy access. Picturesque with gently sloping, fine white sand. Great swimming and boogie boarding. Restrooms and showers. Kua Bay is 11 miles north of Kona.
Makalawena Beach is 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 is a long crescent of sand in a beautiful bay. A great place to explore with decent swimming. 10 miles north of Kona, southern end of Kekaha Kai State Park.
Honokohau Beach is a long crescent of salt & pepper sand with magnificent views and ok for swimming. Ai'opio Beach is calm, peaceful, scenic. The area is rich with history. Just 3 miles north of Kona.
Old Kona Airport Beach Park is a series of beaches easy to access just north of Kailua Kona. 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 is a nice area for a picnic with benches, trees and lawn, or for watching a Big Island sunset. Pahoehoe is on Ali'i drive immediately north of Magic Sands, south of the 3.5 mile marker.
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.
What Kahalu'u Beach Park is really famous for is the snorkeling. It's a coarse salt & pepper sand beach with great swimming, calm water and nice picnic area. Fun for the whole family. On Ali'i drive at mile marker 5.
Secluded and scenic Manini Beach Park is a nice alternative for enjoying Kealakekua Bay, in a more relaxed setting away from the crowds. Beautiful views with an easy ocean entry.
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park has a scenic and peaceful beach, with phenomenal snorkeling and diving right next door at Two Step in Honaunau Bay.
Ho'okena Beach Park is a good family friendly beach, south of Kona between mile markers 101 & 102. Fine salt & pepper sand, good swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding. Full facilities. Tent camping with permit.
Picturesque Honomalino Bay is home to one of the larger south Kona beaches. It's an easy hike past Miloli'i Beach Park to the beautiful white and black sands of Honomalino Beach.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach is a unique and stunning beach, well worth the hot, dry walk across 2.25-miles (3.6-kilometers) of coastal pastureland. Off South Point Road between 69 & 70 mile markers on Highway 11.
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.
While not well known for its beaches, several beach parks near Hilo are worth checking out, especially on a sunny day. Decent swimming and snorkeling with lots of room to spread a picnic on the grass.
Ahalanui Park is one of the gems of the Puna District. Relax in the volcanically heated pool, surrounded by coconut palms with stunning views of the open ocean. South of Hilo.
Wawaloli Beach Park is 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.
Keiki Ponds has a 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.
Kamakahonu Beach is 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.
With the outrageously clear and calm ocean, the best Hawaii beaches for snorkeling are along the Big Island's west coast.
In particular you will find amazing snorkeling on the Big Island 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.
To learn more about the young beaches and coastal development on the Big Island, you might enjoy this fascinating in-depth study conducted by the School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology at the University of Hawaii.
So many interesting beaches on the Big Island! Do you have a favorite? What makes it special?
Let our readers know by sharing your own experience. You can even include a couple of photos. We will publish your story right here on our site!
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More images of Kikaua Beach Not rated yet
Kikaua Beach is the best!
Kikaua Beach is the best with a smooth sandy bottom and crystal clear water! Not rated yet
There are two amazing Hawaii beaches that are close to our hearts on the Big Island, Kikaua Beach and Mauna Kea Beach. Kikaua Beach is an easy fifteen …