Manini'owali Beach at Kua Bay, part of Kekaha Kai State Park, is another of the very pretty Hawaii Big Island beaches, with fine white sand that slopes gently to the beautiful clear turquoise water. The swimming here is awesome when the ocean is calm, and there can be some decent snorkeling along the rocky outcroppings at either end of the beach.
During certain times of the year, particularly the summer months, the beautiful soft sand covers the entire beach from north to south. More lava rocks become exposed in the winter months as sand is carried out with the surf. This is a good place to have water shoes to navigate across the rocks.
The rugged shoreline at either end of Manini'owali Beach helps when the afternoon winds start to pick up. The wind can get pretty brutal farther out in the bay, so be careful when swimming as the waves get strong and the surf can really pound you. Manini'owali is a popular beach for boogie boarding during moderate surf. Be aware of rocks in the shallows when boogie boarding or body surfing, especially during winter months and low tide.
Manini'owali Beach is best visited early in the day. Mornings can be simply delightful. If you come early when the surf is calm and before it gets crowded, this beach is heavenly. The beach provides a fabulous view of the open ocean and can be a great place to spot dolphins and even humpback whales. If you listen intently with your head under water, sometimes you can actually hear the whales singing.
There is absolutely no shade at the beach. Be sure to bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen, plus water and maybe some snacks. An umbrella can be a nice addition. There are some shaded picnic tables above and behind the beach, plus outdoor showers and bathroom facilities. There are no lifeguards on duty here.
Manini'owali Beach is one of the nicer Big Island beaches that is easy to reach from Kailua-Kona. You can practically drive right to the beach, and some days it seems everyone on the Big Island knows it! If you arrive later in the day, parking can be a little crazy, especially on weekends. As you approach the beach you may see cars lined up down the road. You may have to walk down the road a bit but don't worry; there's plenty of room on the beach!
There is a rocky shoreline trail at the northern end of the beach that leads to another of our favorite Hawaii beaches, spectacular Kikaua Beach to the north. The trail winds through a lava field and across a coral beach less than a mile to scenic Kikaua Point.
Kua Bay is 12 miles north of Kailua-Kona along the Kohala Coast. Turn off Highway 19 between the 88 and 89 mile markers, across from the entrance to West Hawaii Veteran's Cemetery. The paved road winds just a little over a mile to the beach. Another option is to park farther north at Kikaua Beach and walk back along the shoreline trail to Manini'owali Beach.
Kua Bay and Manini'owali Beach are part of the larger Kekaha Kai State Park. There is a gate at the entrance that opens at 9am and closes at 7pm except on Wednesdays when the entire park is closed.
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