Big Island of Hawaii Beaches

Big Island Beach MapThe Big Island of Hawaii has a coastline of about 266 miles (428 km). Big Island beaches are the most diverse in all of Hawaii. Here you can find black sand beaches, red sand beaches, golden sand beaches and even green sand beaches. Most beaches, however, are rocky (with lava rocks and pebbles) and have an offshore reef, which makes for poor swimming conditions. Read more about Hawaiian beach sand composition.

The best sandy swimming beaches are located on the Kona Coast and Kohala Coast. This is where many hotels are located and where most visitors like to stay for their Big Island vacation. Snorkeling and diving locations on the Big Island are plentiful. One prime spot for example is Kealakekua Bay. And then there are several tide pool locations, such as the Kapoho Tide Pools, which are like an outdoor Jacuzzi - with the only difference that they are volcanically heated.

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Aiopio Beach
This beach is part of the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, a rich archaeological site. Here you can find artifacts showing how Hawaiians lived in the past, before the time of Captain Cook.

Alula Beach
This secluded cove has a small white-sand beach dotted with pieces of black lava rock. When the ocean is calm, the snorkeling conditions are excellent here. The beach is a popular take-off point for offshore divers and snorkelers.
Anaehoomalu Beach
Anaeho'omalu Bay, located near the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort, is one of the prettiest beaches in this area, featuring a long white-sand beach, fish ponds and a large grove of coconut palms.
Carlsmith Beach Park
Carlsmith Beach Park is one of the nicer beaches in the Hilo area. This side of the Big Island is mainly made up of lava rocks, but Carlsmith Beach Park has a sandy ocean bottom.
Crystal Cove
Crystal Cove is often times referred to as the Big Island's giant aquarium. There are some steep cliffs here and the shoreline is rocky. The cove is a popular dive spot, home to some nice coral gardens.
Hakalau Bay
Hakalau Bay is mainly a place to go to take pictures rather than go swimming or snorkeling. The small bay has deep offshore waters and dangerous water conditions develop during high surf.
Hapuna Beach Park
This is one of the real gems on the Big Island. Conde Nast Traveller, a prestigious travel magazine, has repeatedly voted Hapuna the best beach in the U.S. It is surrounded by a beautifully landscaped park.
Hilo Bay Beachfront Park
Hilo Bay Beachfront Park is one of the longest beaches on the Big Island. But it's surprisingly uncrowded. The culprit? A heavy industrial boom in the mid-1900s that has left the waters murky and the shores polluted.
Holoholokai Beach Park
This is not your typical picture-perfect white-sand beach. The rocky strip of coastline boasts something completely different. The beach is connected to the Malama Petroglyph Trail, the largest collection of petroglyphs in the state.
Honaunau Bay
A former stronghold of Hawaiian chiefs, Honaunau Bay has some of the best underwater sights on the island, if not the entire state. Rare fish and sea turtles can be seen playing amidst colorful coral reefs.
Honoka'ope Beach
Located at the south end of the Mauna Lani Resort area, Honoka'ope Beach is a small salt-and-pepper beach that's only sparsely visited. The beach is backed by several luxury homes.
Honokohau Beach
Located in the Kalolo-Honokohau National Historic Park, this area boasts some of the best archaeological sites and artifacts in the state, including ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings), temples, burial sites, trails, house platforms and three fishponds.
Honolii Beach Park
Honoli'i Beach Park is popular among the local surf crowd. Unlike most surfing beaches on the Big Island, Honolii sees action all year round. The beach itself is a mix of black sand, coral rubble, rocks and beach glass.
Honomalino Bay
This secluded gray-sand beach on the Big Island's southwestern shore is a real gem. Fringed by coconut palms and kiawe trees, Honomalino Bay offers good swimming and snorkeling conditions when the ocean is calm.
Hookena Beach
Ho'okena was once an important inter-island steamship landing site. In the early 1880s, it grew into a busy trading village, featuring a wharf, a school, a courthouse and even a jail. The beach has fine, black detrital sand mixed with white sand.
Isaac Hale Beach Park
Located on the eastern edge of Pohoiki Bay, Isaac Hale Beach Park is a small two-acre (8,094 sq. m) park and is often times quite crowded. It's popular among picnickers, shoreline fishermen, surfers, campers and boaters.
James Kealoha Beach Park
Named in 1963 after the first elected lieutenant governor of the state of Hawaii, James Kealoha Beach Park is also known as "4 Miles" - not because of its length, but because it is exactly 4 miles (6.4 km) from the Hilo Post Office.
Kahaluu Beach
The Big Island has some outstanding underwater scenery, but Kahalu'u Beach Park on the island's west coast just south of Kailua-Kona stands out in particular. The fish here aren't at all wary of humans, as they tend to be in other areas.
Kahuwai Bay
This bay is a well-guarded secret of the Big Island diving community. It is home to about 40 different diving sites. The underwater lava rocks form beautiful archways and canyons that look almost surreal in the sunlight.
Kamakahonu Beach
Nicknamed "Children's Beach" because of the gentle waves and shallow water, Kamakahonu is one of the safest swimming beaches in Kona. It is also an important historical site, having served as the final home of King Kamehameha I.
Kapaa Beach Park
If you like your beaches small and private, you'll love this quiet rocky beach on the Big Island's northwestern shore. However, the shoreline here is rocky and the beach is not good for swimming. Kapa'a is mainly visited by picnickers and fishermen.
Kaunaoa Beach
"Perfect" has been used to describe Kauna'oa Bay on several occasions, and one look is enough to see why. Fringed with leafy palm trees and fine, golden sand, this beach is considered one of the island's best.
Kaupulehu Beach
Ka'upulehu Beach is located near the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island's Kohala Coast. It is a sandy beach, but since it has a lava bench, the swimming conditions are poor.
Kealakekua Bay
Few other spots have as much historical meaning as Kealakekua Bay. This is where Captain James Cook (the British explorer who discovered the Hawaiian Islands in 1778) docked during his second voyage to the Hawaiian Islands in January 1779.
Keauhou Bay
Keauhou Bay on the Big Island's Kona Coast has a boat ramp and a small boat harbor. It's a popular launching spot for kayakers and canoeers. Snorkel boat tours to Kealakekua Bay depart from here as well. There is also a small park with a grassy area and picnic tables.
Keaukaha Beach Park
Keaukaha Beach Park is one of the Hilo area beaches. There’s actually no beach here, but only a lava rock shoreline. Several freshwater springs bubble up from the ocean bottom, which makes the water temperature in some areas a bit chilly.
Keei Beach
Just beside the well-known Kealakekua Bay is a small beach unknown to most visitors. Ke'ei Beach is one of the best-kept secrets on the Big Island's Kona Coast, visited mostly by local fishermen, surfers and the occasional sightseer.
Kehena Beach
This is one of the few unofficial "clothing optional" beaches in Hawaii. It is a long, but narrow black-sand beach, which local residents also call Dolphin Beach because of the frequent appearances of spinner dolphins.
Kona Coast State Park
Kekaha Kai State Park is home to three gorgeous beaches, Mahai'ula Beach, Makalawena Beach and Kua Bay (also known as Manini'owali). The entire shoreline in this area is beautiful.
Keokea Beach
Keokea Beach is a boulder beach surrounded by sea cliffs. The swimming conditions are rather poor here because the bay is not protected by offshore reefs, so the surf is strong and the water rough on most days.
Kiholo Bay
If you were to squeeze the Big Island into a single beach, you'll end up with something like Kiholo Bay. This Kohala Coast beach has a little of everything: beautiful sights, fascinating wildlife, tide pools, ancient ponds and rock formations.
Kikaua Beach
This small man-made cove has a pretty white-sand beach. The sandy ocean bottom within the cove is ideal for small children. The cove is surrounded by lava rocks which protect the nearshore waters from waves and currents.
Kolekole Beach Park
This is a popular beach park among residents in the Hilo area, mainly because of its beautiful scenery, spacious grassy areas and because of its facilities. On the weekends and on holidays, it is often times crowded with picnickers.
Kua Bay
Kua Bay (also known as Manini'owali) is part of the Kekaha Kai State Park. It features several hiking trails and a number of lookout points from which you can enjoy great views of the salt-and-pepper coastline.
Kukio Beach
Kuki'o Beach is a pretty white-sand beach, which can most conveniently be accessed at the Hualalai Four Seasons Resort. Entering the water is a little tricky here because shoreline rocks line almost the entire length of the beach.
Lapakahi State Historical Park
Nature and history come together in this 265-acre (1 sq. km) beach park north of Kawaihae. Lapakahi State Historical Park was once an ancient Hawaiian fishing community, Koai'e, which dates back to the 14th century.
Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park
Laupahoehoe Point on the Big Island's Hamakua Coast is a peninsula covered with coconut palms, grass and black lava rocks on the shoreline. Laupahoehoe is known for its scenic views, but it also holds a tragic past.
Leleiwi Beach Park
Leleiwi Beach Park is located next to the Richardson's Ocean Center at the eastern end of Hilo. There is a small black-sand beach, and the rocky shoreline is made up of a few natural ponds, inlets and small rock islets.
MacKenzie State Park
This sprawling state park has one of the most dramatic oceanfronts, but people don't come here for the swimming. MacKenzie State Park is mostly popular among sunbathers, picnickers and fishing enthusiasts.
Mahaiula Beach
Mahai'ula Beach is part of the Kekaha Kai State Park on the Big Island's west coast. It is located about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the Kona airport and is accessible via a rugged dirt road.
Mahukona Beach
Mahukona Beach is unusual in more ways than one. It is not a real beach, but an abandoned commercial harbor, which was closed in 1956. Remnants of the area's enterprising past can still be found under water and are one of its main attractions.
Makaiwa Bay
Makaiwa Bay is a beautiful sandy cove located south of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Mauna Lani Terrace condos. The swimming and snorkeling conditions are good when the ocean is calm.
Makalawena Beach
The Kona Coast has its share of "secret" beaches - little strips of paradise hidden by larger, better-known spots. This beach is one such place, nestled on top of a small hill and accessible by a 20-minute hike on a rough lava trail.
Manini Beach
Manini Beach has a rocky shoreline consisting of white coral rubble and black lava rocks. The beach wraps around the north point of Kahauloa Bay, and the area behind it belongs to Napo'opo'o Park.
Manini Beach
Located in the Big Island’s South Kohala district (northwestern shore), this beach is tucked away behind shady trees and features protected waters. It's a nice spot for a picnic.
Napo'opo'o Beach Park
A quaint historical charm surrounds the rugged landscape of Napo'opo'o Beach Park, a cultural gem at the southern end of Kealakekua Bay. This is where Captain James Cook first set foot on the Big Island of Hawaii on January 17, 1779.
New Kaimu Black Sand Beach
The land that this beach encompasses didn't exist a mere 20 years ago. In 1990, a lava flow from nearby Kilauea volcano reached the shoreline at Kalapana and destroyed this entire community along with the old Kaimu Black Sand Beach.
Old Kona Airport Beach
The old Kona Airport closed down in 1970, but developers have certainly put the site to good use. In its place now lies a one-mile-long beach and state park, the old runway conveniently turned into a parking lot.
Onekahakaha Beach Park
Onekahakaha Beach Park is the ideal beach for families with small children and for tidepooling. There is a sand-bottomed cove that is separated from the open ocean by a boulder break, so the nearshore waters are shallow and calm.
Onekahakaha Beach Park
Onomea Bay is one of the most scenic areas on the Hamakua Coast. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is located right on this bay and features waterfalls, streams and a boardwalk along the ocean.
Pahoehoe Beach Park
This beach park is mainly frequented by fishermen and picnickers. It is rocky and there is a low seawall at the water's edge, which acts as a barrier against high waves. There is only a small pocket of sand mixed with coral rubble.
Papakolea Beach
Papakolea Beach is known for its unique olive green sand. Olivine is a semi-precious stone. Here in this area these small green volcanic stones originate from the littoral cone that surrounds the small bay.
Pauoa Bay
Pauoa Bay is home to one of the healthiest coral reefs in Hawaii, thanks mostly to conservation efforts by the University of Hawaii. Here you'll find Hawaiian green sea turtles and a large population of reef fish.
Pebble Beach
This beach gets its name from the black lava pebbles that line its coast. Adding to its serene air is the clear blue water, home to a rich marine ecosystem and a prime spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Pelekane Beach
Pelekane Beach isn't your typical beach park. In fact, swimming, picnicking, camping and even sunbathing isn't allowed on this beach because many ancient sacred sites are located here.
Pine Trees Beach
Unlike its name, you won't find any pines on this beach - it was hastily named by a clueless visitor who thought the nearby mangroves were pine trees. Pine Trees is one of the best barbecue sites on the Kona Coast and popular among surfers.
Pololu Valley Beach
You might feel a sense of déja-vu when visiting Pololu Valley Beach. This beach is one of the most photographed spots on the Big Island. The small black-sand beach is surrounded by high sea cliffs, which look like giant walls.
Puako Bay
Puako Bay has a rocky shoreline with many tide pools, inlets and coves, which offer good snorkeling conditions when the ocean is calm. A long, but narrow white-sand beach spans almost the entire length of the bay.
Punaluu Beach
Black sand beaches can be found all over the Big Island of Hawaii, but Punalu'u Beach is the most popular and one of the most beautiful. It is easily accessible and boasts a shore of shiny, jet black sand, mostly made up of ground basalt.
Reeds Bay Beach Park
This beach park offers a calm and shallow swimming area. However, most people prefer another area called Ice Pond, which is located at the head of Reeds Bay. Here, cold spring water bubbles up from the ocean bottom.
Richardson Beach Park
Also known as Richardson Ocean Center, this park has calm waters, excellent snorkeling conditions, lots of shade and several tide pools where children can play away from the surf.
Road to the Sea Black Sand Beach
The Road to the Sea, located on the Big Island's southwestern coast, is one that's hardly traveled, and it's easy to see why. The six-mile (9.7 km) trail is dotted with sharp lava rocks, surrounded by steep ledges and riddled with potholes.
Spencer Beach Park
Spencer Beach Park offers excellent swimming and snorkeling conditions, ample shade under large native trees and a calm, friendly atmosphere. It is one of the few white-sand beaches on the Big Island.
Waialea Bay Beach
Waialea Bay (Beach 69) is one of the few beautiful white-sand beaches on the Big Island. Many local families come here with their children. The summer months are mostly calm and perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Waiolena Beach Park
There is no sandy beach here, only a lava rock shoreline, so swimming isn't really possible. This beach park is mainly frequented by local families who come here to picnic and wade in the water (there are many rocky tide pools).
Waipio Beach
Access to Waipi'o Beach is somewhat difficult, as the road to the valley is narrow and very steep. The lush valley is home to ancient sacred temples, tropical rainforests and tall sea cliffs.
Waiulua Bay
Waiulua Bay is located in a resort area on the Big Island's Kohala Coast. Even though the bay fronts the Hilton Waikoloa Village, most people prefer to swim in the resort pool or man-made sand-bottomed lagoon because the bay is rocky.
Wawaloli Beach Park
The main attraction on this small beach is the sand-filled tide pools, which are protected from high surf by rock walls. These shallow basins are nice play areas for children and offer a cool retreat for adults.
White Sands Beach Park
During times of high surf, an interesting natural phenomenon occurs here. The shorebreak erodes the small pocket of white-sand beach very quickly, often times within 24 hours, washing away all sand and leaving only exposed lava rock.
Whittington Beach Park
Whittington Beach Park is located in the Big Island's Ka'u district on the island's south shore. The scenic shoreline is the main attraction here. The dark lava rocks, deep blue waters and remote atmosphere make for great photo opportunities.
Ahalanui Park
Ahalanui Park (also known as Pualaa County Park) offers a unique bathing experience. Here you can have a bath in a spring-fed pool that is volcanically heated to a comfortable 90 degrees F (32 C).
Kapoho Tide Pools
These interconnecting tide pools offer a unique outdoor bathing experience. They extend up to 200 yards (183 m) offshore and some of them are volcanically heated and quite warm, up to about 90 degrees F (32.2 C).