Best Kona Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii

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Kona beaches include Kua Bay Beach (on a summer day with many people, chairs, blankets and umbrellas spread out).

Beaches on the Kona Coast of Hawaii are recognizable by their soft sand, swaying palm trees and water so blue it almost looks unnatural. Here, lava rocks are interrupted by stretches of golden sand, where beach-goers sunbathe while they’re not swimming or scuba diving alongside sea turtles, dolphins and tropical fish.

Located on the western side of the Big Island of Hawaii, Kona is known for its year-round sun, perfect for a day at the beach. Hike to the secluded Makalawena Beach, boogie board at Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area, snorkel at Two Step or picnic at Magic Sands Beach. Read about these beaches and more in our roundup of the best beaches in Kona.

1. Makalawena Beach

Many consider Makalawena Beach the most beautiful beach on the entire island. This secluded beach is characterized by clean, white sand alongside calm, blue water. This beach cannot be accessed by car, and since visitors must hike to get there, it is never crowded.

There are two ways to get to Makalawena Beach. You can either park at Mahai’ula Bay and hike north from there, or you can walk south from Manini’owali Beach, or Kua Bay. There are no amenities at this beach, so make sure you pack plenty of food and water.

Read More: How to Choose the Right Hawaiian Island

Two Step Beach is one of the Kona beaches known for snorkeling.
Two Step Beach, known for its spectacular snorkeling. Photo credit: Adina Keeling

2. Two Step Beach (Honaunau Bay)

Honaunau Bay, or Two Step Beach, is most famous for its excellent snorkeling. This turquoise bay does feature a sandy area, but most snorkelers enter the water from a rocky shoreline, where they are only two steps from rich marine life. The water is easy to enter, making it a great spot for beginners.

The water near the rocks is very shallow. Here, you’ll see tons of tropical fish and possibly even sea turtles if you’re lucky. Those who swim past the shallow water may get the chance to spot spinner dolphins. There is a parking lot outside the beach for $5 a day.

3. Kikaua Point Beach Park

Kikaua Point Beach Park is a small, man-made cove with soft sand and clear water for snorkeling. Located 12 miles north of Kailua-Kona, the beach is lined with palm trees, and there are some amenities, including restrooms, showers and parking. There is no lifeguard on duty, but the water is shallow and calm, perfect for families.

Volcanic rocks surrounded the sand, although there is a small grassy area. Green sea turtles also frequentKikaua Point Beach Park, so keep an eye out.

4. Kua Bay (Manini’owali Beach)

Kua Bay Beach, also known as Manini’owali Beach, is a beautiful stretch of white sand with waves perfect for bodyboarding, skimboarding and boogie boarding. There is a paved road leading to Kua Bay Beach, making it easy to get to, which is especially important if you’re planning on packing beach chairs or boogie boards.

A part of Kekaha Kai State Park, this beach is popular among tourists and locals alike. Beach-goers can explore the volcanic rocks that line either side of the beach. There is little shade at this beach, so don’t forget an umbrella.

5. Magic Sands Beach (Laʻaloa Beach Park)

Just south of Kailua-Kona along Ali’i Drive, Magic Sands Beach is a small beach, popular among swimmers and sunbathers. Officially La’aloa Bay, this beach disappears when the tide shifts, becoming a rocky shoreline, hence its unofficial name, Magic Sands.

The waves at Magic Sands Beach can be pretty powerful, making it popular among surfers and boogie boarders. There are lifeguards on duty seven days a week. Amenities include restrooms, showers, picnic tables and a volleyball court.

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6. Kahalu’u Beach Park

Kahalu’u Beach Park is a snorkeler’s paradise. Here, you’ll find a vibrant coral reef, teeming with life. Yellow tang, bullethead parrotfish, racoon butterflyfish and Hawaiian spotted boxfish are just some of the many fish you’ll find dwelling here. If you don’t have your own snorkeling gear, there are places to rent equipment.

Entering the water can be challenging, so it may be best to wear water shoes. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards, and there are buoys marking the areas that are safe for snorkelers.

7. Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay lies at the end of a hike along the Captain Cook Monument Trail. This hike is beautiful but quite challenging, as it travels down a steep valley, and its trail is covered in loose rock. Still, the enchanting bay at the end of the hike is all worth the excursion.

This bay is known for its spectacular scuba diving. Volcanic rocks and coral reefs, swarmed by tropical fish, surround the area. The bay is located in a beautifully lush region, where trees offer plenty of shade and cliffs create a beautiful backdrop.

8. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area consists of a park and a large sandy beach that stretches for nearly half a mile. Beach-goers can spend the day sunbathing, bodyboarding or boogie boarding. There are also some snorkeling spots, particularly along the southern edge of the beach.

There is a parking lot and a small cafe near the beach. You can also rent snorkeling gear and beach chairs at the cafe. If you’re visiting Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area between December and April, keep an eye out for humpback whales, which can sometimes be spotted in the distance.

Read More: 10 Best Restaurants in Kona: Where to Dine on Hawaii’s Big Island

9. Honokohau Beach

Honokohau Beach is a part of the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, which preserves several historical sites and ancient Hawaiian artifacts. The easiest way to get to Honokohau Beach is by following a short dirt trail from Honokohau Harbor.

The beach is rarely crowded and boasts calm, shallow water, ideal for families with small children. The sand is a mixture of shells, coral and lava rock, giving it a salt-and-pepper appearance. Snorkeling is not very popular here, as the water is a bit murky due to the color of the sand, but sea turtles are regularly spotted relaxing here.

10. Kamakahonu Beach (King Kam Beach)

If you’re staying in Kailua-Kona, Kamakahonu Beach is a great place to spend an afternoon. This white sand beach is located beside the Kailua pier, walking distance from the town’s shops and restaurants. Visitors can take dive lessons here, or enjoy water sports, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling.

The beach attracts a lot of families who appreciate its calm waves and shallow water. In fact, Kamakahonu Beach is considered one of the safest Kona beaches, earning it the nickname “Children’s Beach.” It is also sometimes referred to as King Kam Beach.

11. Kaunaʻoa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach)

If your ideal beach day includes a piña colada at sunset, Kaunaʻoa Beach, or Mauna Kea Beach, is the place to be. This stretch of golden sand and turquoise water is located within the Mauna Kea Beach Resort. There is a concession stand selling cocktails and snacks, and there are umbrellas and beach chairs for rent. Avid snorkelers will find areas of tropical fish near the lava rock along the northern and southern edge of the bay.

Kaunaʻoa Beach is located 30 minutes north of the Kona airport, and while it is open to non-guests, there is a $21 parking fee. Parking is quite limited, so try to arrive early in order to snag a spot.

Adina Keeling is a freelance travel writer from San Diego, CA. She worked in local news for a year until her wanderlust drew her to Costa Rica, where she is now based while freelancing and traveling the world. She has lived in three different countries and traveled to 27. An avid solo traveler, Adina wants to empower other women to safely travel alone.
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