Samuel M. Spencer Beach Park is a popular family park whose beach has a very gentle slope and excellent swimming. This Big Island beach is popular with locals and a fun place for kids. Because it is protected by an enormous offshore reef and the breakwater wall for Kawaihae Harbor, the water is almost always calm.
The beach is broad with soft sand and the park has lots of huge trees for shade. The water clarity can tend to be a little bit murky because of its proximity to the Kawaihae harbor to the north, but don't let this stop you from enjoying the delightful swimming. There is a lifeguard tower on the beach, but for reasons unknown to us there isn't always a lifeguard on duty.
The park has picnic tables, barbecue grills, a large pavilion with electrical outlets, outdoor showers and modern bathroom facilities. The area is popular with locals and can get busy on weekends. Camping is available by permit for $21/adult ($6 for locals). You can't help but notice by all the tents that this is a popular camping destination. The close proximity to Kawaihae makes it easy to run into town for picnic supplies or a delicious shave ice.
One of the features we most enjoy about Spencer is its proximity to Mau'umae Beach, only a half-mile to the south. There is an easy shoreline trail that leads to this small but very scenic beach. This is part of the Ala Kahakai Trail.
Compared to other Big Island beaches in the area, Mau'umae is quieter and more private. The sand here is pristinely soft, and the water is almost always clear and calm with great swimming.
If you continue walking south along the shoreline trail for about a mile past Mau'umae, you will reach the Mauna Kea Resort and Mauna Kea Beach.
Also in close proximity and immediately north of Spencer Park is the impressive Pu'ukohola Heiau. This enormous Hawaiian temple was built by King Kamehameha in 1790-91 for the purpose of appealing to his war god. Entrance is free and the impressive visitor center is open year round 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Spencer Park is located near Kawaihae on the Kohala coast, 34 miles north of Kona. At the intersection of Highway 19 and Highway 270, turn left toward Kawaihae and continue one half mile. The entrance to the park will be on your left.
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