Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. Part of a new 1160-acre park, two beaches, rich in archeology and good for swimming, are down the road from Honokohau Harbor. 'Alula is a slip of white sand, a short walk over lava to the left of the harbor entrance. Honokohau Beach, a ¾-mile stretch with ruins of ancient fishponds, is north of the harbor. At the north end of the beach, a historic trail leads mauka across the lava to a freshwater pool. A Hawaiian settlement up until the 19th century, the park is rapidly being developed as a cultural and historical site. For information about the park visit its headquarters, a 5- to 10-minute drive away. The park is off Highway 19, at Honokohau Harbor; or use the park access between Mile Markers 96 and 97. Park Headquarters, Kaloko New Industrial Park, 73-4786 Kanalani St., #14, PHONE: 808/329-6881, Park road gate 8 AM-3:30 PM.
Kekaha Kai State Park (Mahaiula Beach). In an austere setting, this sandy white beach nestles in a bay with gentle surf. It has a limited number of picnic tables shaded by coconut trees fed by bubbling fresh-water springs, but no drinking water. Portable toilets are the only additional facilities. Sign about 1 mile north of Keahole-Kona International Airport, off Hwy. 19, marks rough 1½-mile road to beach. Sign about 1 mile north of Keahole-Kona International Airport, off Hwy. 19. PHONE: 808/974-6200.
Makalawena Beach. The beautiful beach of Makalawena stretches over 5 cove/inlets and covers an area of about a half a mile to a mile of shoreline. Makalawena is a remote beach, with few crowds. Prepare yourself for a 15-20 minute hike just to get to this beach. The trailhead is in the Kona Coast State Park, off Route 19, the Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway. The beach itself lies between mile markers 89 and 90. The trip is well-worth it, however. The rough road followed by a hike over a dried lava bed leads you to the teal blue lagoons surrounded by the three crescent-shaped near-perfect white sand beaches. Beyond the shore are white sand dunes and plenty of shady trees to keep the sun off of you. A little farther inland, just on the other side of the shade trees is a freshwater pool where you can bathe and wash off the salt and sea before hiking back to your parked car.
Kua Bay. Located off the Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway (19) north of Kona between mile markers 88 and 89, Kua Bay offers a scenic white sand beach gently sloping down into the ocean. The beauty of the white sand beach and light blue waters is breathtaking - no doubt, this is one of the prettiest beaches on the Island. There are no trees or shade here. During calm conditions, the swimming and snorkeling are excellent and easy. In October 2005, a new paved road was completed leading to Kua Bay.
Kikaua Point Beach. Kikaua Point Beach is located approximately 10 miles north of Kailua-Kona, adjacent the Kukio Golf Resort. Kikaua Point Beach is on the of prettiest, family beaches on the Big Island. Lava rocks and large groves of shady trees surround the white sand bottomed cove. The waters in this cove are protected and calm. There are showers, bathrooms, and water fountains here.
Kuki'o Beach. Kuki'o Beach is another pretty Kohala beach located just north of Kikaua Point, accessible at the Hualalai, Four Seasons Resort. This scenic, long crescent of white sand is surrounded by shady palm, ironwood, and kiawe trees. You will frequently see turtles swimming in the shallows or basking on the beach.
Kahuwai Bay Beach. This sandy beach is located adjacent the Kona Village Resort and is surrounded by groves of palm trees. There are scattered lava rocks forming a natural barrier in the shallow water. You can regularly see turtles basking on the beach here. The sunsets are pretty at this beach.
Ki'holo Bay. The unmarked road across a vast lava field requires a 20-minute hike, so take plenty of water. Private homes are built along the oceanfront. The huge, spring-fed Luahinewai Pond anchors the south end of the bay, and the three black-pebble beaches are fine for swimming in calm weather. At the northern end, Wainanali'i Pond (a 5-acre lagoon) is a feeding site for green sea turtles. The two ponds are off-limits to swimmers. Kamehameha I had a well-stocked fishpond here that was destroyed by lava in 1859. You'll find good swimming here but no facilities. Hwy. 19, Mile Marker 81.
Anaeho'omalu Beach, at Outrigger Waikoloa Resort. This expansive beach on the west coast, also known as A-Bay, is perfect for swimming, windsurfing, snorkeling, and diving. Some equipment is for rent at the north end. Be sure to wander around the ancient fishponds and petroglyph fields. Follow Waikoloa Beach Dr. to Royal Waikoloan Resort, then follow signs to beach right-of-way to south. Follow Waikoloa Beach Dr. to Royal Waikoloan Resort.
Hapuna Beach State Park. This beach, part of a 61-acre park, forms a ½-mile crescent of glistening sand guarded by rocky points at either end. The surf can be hazardous in winter, but in summer the gradual slope of the beach can stretch as wide as 200 ft into a perfectly blue ocean -- ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and body surfing. State cabins are available, and there is a convenient snack bar. Lifeguards are not always on duty, so take care. Between Mauna Ke'a Beach and Mauna Lani resorts, off Hwy. 19, PHONE: 808/974-6200.
Holoholokai Beach Park. A rocky beach of black-lava formations and white-coral clinkers is fine for surfers and snorkelers, and a small grassy area is available to sunbathers. Bathrooms, picnic tables, and barbecue grills are nicely maintained. Just before the beach park, you can explore historic Hawaii Petroglyphs at the Malama Trail meanders [7/10] miles through brush and kiawe trees to an area of lava covered with the ancient etchings of Hawaiian figures and animals. Off Hwy. 19 at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows.
Waialea Beach. Waialea beach is located at Waialea Bay, along the paved road near the 69 pole marker adjacent to Hapuna Beach. This secluded white sand beach is surrounded by groves of trees and foliage that provide a lot of shade. This inlet is fairly protected, offering calm, clear waters and a sandy bottom for swimming. You won't find any crowds at this beach.
Kauna'oa Beach at Mauna Ke'a Beach Hotel. It's a toss-up whether this or neighboring Hapuna is the most beautiful beach on the island. Kauna'oa unfolds like a white crescent, and it slopes very gradually. It's a great place for snorkeling. In winter, however, the powerful waves can be dangerous. Amenities are hotel-owned. Public parking places are limited, and it's first-come, first-served. Entry through gate to Mauna Ke'a Beach Resort, off Hwy. 19.
Spencer Beach Park. This spot is popular with local families because of its reef-protected, gently sloping white-sand beach, and it's safe for swimming year-round. Snorkel with the sea turtles here! Close to large shade trees are cooking and camping facilities, showers, abandoned tennis courts, and a large covered pavilion with electrical outlets. You can walk from here to the Pu'ukohola and Mailekini heiaus. Entry road off Hwy. 270, uphill from Kawaihae Harbor, PHONE: 808/961-8311.
Lapakahi State Historical Park. Lapakahi is located north of Kawaihae, and was once an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. This fine historical Park offers lessons in Hawaiian history and archaeology as well as a fine marine preserve to explore. Just a short walk North lies Mahukona State Park, a favorite swimming and snorkeling spot, complete with barbeque pits, toilets, showers and camping (by permit).