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Makalawena Beach

We've compiled a listing of the best beaches, places to swim, lounge in the water and snokel on the Big Island of Hawaii based on our experiences. Let us know if you've found a favorite! Tell us why and we'll add it to the list!

  • Kahalu'u Beach Park just across the street from the condo. The most popular place on the island for snorkeling and swimming. Restrooms, food, coral and lots of sea life waiting for you! Watch the sunset with the other locals and tourists each nice and enjoy the splendor of true Hawai’i!
  • Magic Sands in Kailua Kona (1 mile north from Condo)
  • Punalu'u Black Sand Beach home to lots of sea turtles! Good parking, restrooms, some vendors selling food and busy!
  • Papakōlea Green Sand Beach in South Point (the southernmost point in the United States!) is only accessible via a 4WD and 2 hour hike.
  • Pebbles Beach at the bottom of Kona Paradise is absolutely stunning to snorkel or dive since the black "river rock" pebbles make for an amazingly different dive. You'll see soft coral, starfish, thousands of tropical fish, eels and more! Also the sound the ocean makes when receding over these pebbles is so meditative and tranquil, you'll never want to leave. HOWEVER, the surf can be treacherous - no joke - and can change at a moment’s notice. Many people have lost their lives here just walking on the beach. Proceed with caution. If it's calm, you're good. If no one is swimming, there's probably good reason.
  • Pae'a (aka "Two Step") in Captain Cook. Just outside and to the right of Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. You'll park along the road and walk to the lava rock formation. You'll see everyone lining up at one end of the lava rock where it's 2 steps down and you're in the ocean! Amazing coral for snorkeling here. Lots of locals and sometimes even an outrigger club may be practicing so stay out of their way when exploring.
  • Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
  • Ahalanui County Beach Park has volcanically heated tide pools along with lifeguard, picnic areas and BBQ grills. Lots of room to park and a treasure that mostly only locals know about.
  • Kohanaiki Beach Park north of Kailua Kona
  • Manta Ray SCUBA diving at night
  • Mahai'ula Beach Bay and Makalawena Beach are both down the same "road". You'll need to drive through treacherous lava fields (we did it in a standard size car - just go VERY VERY slow). For Mahai'ula Beach you can either walk from the lava rock parking area (recommended) that you'll reach first or proceed down to the parking lot along the beach where the restrooms are. You'll walk the path northeast about 7 minutes towards the beach. Further down, another 10-15 minute walk via a harsh lava rock trail, will bring you to Makalawena Beach. The walk here is a slipper destroyer, therefore, running shoes are recommended. The beach here is white sand and usually there aren't many people fighting for beach space.
  • Manini'owali Beach (Kua Bay) - take the Kua Bay access road down to the parking area. There are restrooms for changing, sometimes a food truck and white sands awaiting. The beach is a nice size, not usually too busy and plenty of great waves.
  • Kukio Beach lots of sea turtles, coral and not too crowded.
  • Hapuna Beach State Park has wide white sands and plenty of space to surf, snorkel, swim or lay in the sun.

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