Several attractive Hilo beach parks are located along an idyllic little beach street close to downtown Hilo. These Hilo beaches aren’t the long stretches of soft sand that can be found on other parts of the island. But tide pools and coves that are protected by breakwater barriers offer decent swimming, with grassy lawns, picnic pavilions and expansive ocean views. Sometimes when conditions are just right, there can be decent surfing along this stretch of ocean too.
On a sunny day in Hilo, we like to head to one of the six beach parks that run along Kalanianaole Street. They extend south over a distance of a little less than four miles from the intersection of Highways 11 and 19 in Hilo. Beginning with the park closest to Hilo, the parks are Onekahakaha, Kealoha, Carlsmith, Wai’olena, Leleiwi/Waiuli and Richardson Beach Park. There are also several additional public shoreline access points along the drive between Onekahakaha and Richardson.
Our favorite Hilo beach park is Onekahakaha, located 1.8 miles (2.9 km) south of the intersection of highways 11 and 19 in Hilo. Onekahakaha Beach Park is a scenic park with a large, sandy bottomed tide pool that is protected by a breakwater wall from the open ocean. The calm cove is a great spot for families with small children. In addition to great views and nice swimming, there are picnic pavilions, restrooms and lifeguards. Several smaller tide pools outside the sea wall offer opportunities for snorkeling, but stay aware of tides and currents. Currents behind the breakwater can be strong and potentially dangerous during high surf.
We also like Richardson Beach Park, located 1.7 miles (2.7 km) past Onekahakaha Beach Park and just before the end of Kalanianaole Street. There are lifeguards on duty at Richardson, but swimmers should be extremely cautious here, especially during high surf. Currents can be very strong.
About 24 miles (38 km) south of Hilo, on the coast east of Pahoa is a really cool beach park with a pool that is heated by the volcano. The large pool at Ahalanui Beach Park is fed by the ocean and warmed by a volcanically heated spring. Ahalanui is a large park with lots of room to play, a great spot to bring the family. For directions refer to the Ahalanui Beach Park page.
A couple of miles north of Ahalanui you will find Kapoho Tide pools. The calm, interlinked tide pools at Kapoho offer perhaps the best snorkeling opportunity on this side of the Big Island. To reach Kapoho Tide Pools from Ahalanui Beach Park, follow Highway 137 north 1.6 miles (2.6 km), turn right on Kapoho Kai street then right on Waiopae Road.
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