Hilo may not be on the list for prime beach destinations, but Big Island’s best kept secret has many surprises for all water lovers in store. Beautiful spots for swimming, kayaking, surfing and even snorkeling can be found all along the coastline and are not even that well hidden.
The fun begins right behind the airport of Hilo, east of Hilo Bay in an area known as Keaukaha. Following Kalaniana’ole Avenue you will find some unique and simply beautiful spots where you can get wet or just bask in the sun while enjoying the views.
Bring your snorkel, mask and fins to explore Richardson’s Beach Park. Black sand, lava rock plus a smooth entry into the water, which is teeming with schools of fish and the famous sea turtles of the area, are just a few of the attractions there. On clear day you can see all of Mauna Kea while you are floating in the water.
Onekahakaha Beach Park is the best place for families with small children. The water is shallow with a sandy bottom, protected by lava rocks all around. In the park there are several covered gazebos ready for picnics and much shade can be found under the trees. Weekends can be rather crowded.
Coconut Island is located just a short walk away from Hilo’s hotels on Banyan Drive and Queen Liliuokalani’s Garden. A footbridge takes you to the quaint park with its miniature beaches. Small but exquisite, it is a great spot for kayaking and snorkeling. Kids, big and small ones, enjoy diving off an old stone tower. The Hawaiian name for this little jewel in Hilo Bay is Moku Ola, meaning “Island of Life.” It is said to have healing energies and has a rich, ancient history. Take some time and talk to the fishermen in the area to learn about the legends and stories of Moku Ola!
Surf is up in several areas in and outside of Hilo. One of the most beautiful spots however is Honoli’i Beach Park. It is popular with the local surfers and on some early mornings you may even run into the mayor of Hilo, who also appreciates a good break. Parking can get tight, but it is so worth it, even if you have to walk a bit. A small path and stairs take you to a rocky shoreline with some black sand, all backed by a beautifully landscaped park with bathrooms, showers and picnic facilities.
For those who prefer to count their laps in a more controlled environment, the answer is Hilo’s Kawamoto Swim Stadium with its Olympic size pool in a central location on Kalanikoa Street.
White sandy beaches are not a part of Hilo’s landscape, but instead there is an abundance of one-of-a-kind enchanting lagoons, magical bays, beautiful reefs and the perfect waters for kayakers and surfers. Together with the bustling art and food scene, the rich history and natural beauty of the land, this small, laid-back town in East Hawaii is a destination for those who are looking for the true Hawaii.