The 8 Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii - WanderWisdom - Travel
Updated date:

The 8 Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii

Brittany has lived on the Big Island of Hawaii for most of her life and enjoys writing meaningful content that is helpful to others.

I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii, where people from all over the world come to enjoy our beautiful beaches. Because the island is so big, we have a lot of beaches that are perfect for many activities that you may want to do. This list covers the best ones for an all-around great day.

I will be continually adding to this list in order to give you a variety of beaches and activities to choose from. Check this article again when you get to Hawaii or you are planning your next trip!

This article will help you find the best place to snorkel, surf, play volleyball or build a sandcastle on your vacation as well as help you get there with maps. Enjoy your vacation to one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Wailea Bay (69s Beach) on the Big Island of Hawaii

Wailea Bay (69s Beach) on the Big Island of Hawaii

1. 69's (Wailea) Beach

Activities

  • Surfing (when the surf is high)
  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing
  • Skim Boarding

Extras and Amenities

  • Bathrooms
  • Showers
  • Parking Lot

69's is a gorgeous beach just a few miles down a dirt road from Hapuna Beach Park. If you enjoy relaxing at the beach with a nice book or catching huge waves when the surf is high, you will like this beach. 69's gets its name from being at the 69th mile marker on the island. You have to drive down a dirt road until you get to a gate that is the entrance to the parking lot.

Get there early if there is nice weather because the parking lot fills up quickly and you may need to park on the street or walk a bit to the beach. Overall, this beach is a beautiful, calm place surrounded by keawe trees and reef.

Hapuna Beach on a less crowded day

Hapuna Beach on a less crowded day

2. Hapuna Beach Park

Activities

  • Snorkeling
  • Rock Jumping
  • Bodyboarding
  • Swimming

Extras and Amenities

  • The "Toilet Bowl"
  • Tidepools
  • Lifegaurds
  • Snack shack
  • Bathrooms
  • Showers
  • Large, covered pavilions with barbecues
  • Grass and sand
  • Sunset view
  • Turtles
  • Large parking lot

This is one of the local favorites. It has the best waves, the most room and a beautiful view of the sunset. Hapuna is a gated beach park in between Waikoloa and Kawaihae (see the map below for directions).

WARNING: If it's windy or a high-surf warning day, don't let your kids or any other inexperienced swimmers go into the water. Hapuna is known to have a strong rip current.

My favorite memories at Hapuna include bodyboarding, jumping off the rocks and swimming in the lava tubes. On the south-side of the beach, there is a large wall of rock that we enjoyed jumping off (see photo above). We were also intrigued by the "Toilet Bowl," an ancient lava tube on the Northern side of the beach. It connects to the ocean and many people attempt to swim all the way through. (Don't try it unless you have some experience.)

A ton of turtles hang out near the rocks by the hotel (the Hapuna Prince), which attracts a lot of tourists. Overall, Hapuna is the best beach for parties, bodyboarding and jumping off rocks.

Mauna Kea has great waves and sometimes they get so big that we can surf there.  However, most of the time, it is pretty mellow.

Mauna Kea has great waves and sometimes they get so big that we can surf there. However, most of the time, it is pretty mellow.

As you can see, the beach is a large bay that is sheltered by soft, white sand and the Mauna Kea Beach Resort.  Because of the large earthquake in 2006, they had to remodel this hotel, one of the oldest on the island.

As you can see, the beach is a large bay that is sheltered by soft, white sand and the Mauna Kea Beach Resort. Because of the large earthquake in 2006, they had to remodel this hotel, one of the oldest on the island.

3. Mauna Kea Beach

Activities

  • Bodyboarding
  • Swimming
  • Tanning
  • Surfing (sometimes)
  • Volleyball (net provided on grass)

Extras and Amenities

  • Bathrooms
  • Snack Shack
  • Parking Lot (but it sometimes fills up)
  • Shade

Mauna Kea Beach is one of the best beaches on the island. I love to go here to just relax with a book and read for hours. Usually, the surf is like Hapuna. It can get pretty crazy, though, when there's a storm in Maui.

The beach is in a large bay and surrounded by trees. Although it is a public beach, however, the only access is through the Mauna Kea Beach Resort. The parking lot is shared with the golfers, so you have to show up early for a permit. If they run out of stalls, the hotel security will send you away at the main gate.

Overall, this beach is great for picnics, parties and relaxing days, but can also host a great surf party when big swells come in.

4. Spencer Beach Park

Activities

  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming (but watch out for rocks when you go too deep!)
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Barbecuing
  • Camping (you must get a permit)

Extras and Amenities

  • Bathrooms
  • Picnic tables
  • Pavilion
  • Parking Lot
  • Lots of turtles and fish
  • Trails for hiking

Spencer Beach is a beautiful park that is perfect for many activities from basketball to snorkeling. My family and I would go there often to camp or have barbecues. There are never really any big waves at this beach, so it's great for children and snorkelers. If you are going to check out this beach, I suggest you bring some fishing or snorkeling gear, because there is so much reef at this beach.

There is also a great pavilion, which is perfect for parties (even at night; it has good lighting). If you walk out toward the water while in the pavilion, there are two stairs that lead down to a small pool, where eels and other small fish live. Turtles often stop by to feed on the reef there.

This beach will always be one of my favorites. Not only because of the gorgeous landscape, but also the history behind this area. There is a cultural center at the top of the hill where you can learn about Hawaiian history and see an heiau built by Ancient Hawaiians.

WARNING: Although this beach is great for children, I suggest you keep your slippers (flip flops) on while near the trees. They are keawe trees, which are covered in thorns that often end up on the ground.

Beautiful clear water at Kua Bay

Beautiful clear water at Kua Bay

5. Kua Bay

Activities

  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Bodysurfing
  • Snorkeling
  • Small Rock Jumping

Extras and Amenities

  • Picnic Tables
  • Bathrooms
  • Parking lot (However, it is often full)
  • Turtles/Fish

Kua Bay has one of the most breath-taking views. The water is very clear near this area, so you can see the turquoise reef through the rich, blue ocean. The bay is surrounded by rocks and trees.

One of the best things about this beach is that you will probably never go here and not see a turtle. This is a place where turtles feed and they are often poking their heads up to say hello. Remember that Hawaii State Law prohibits anyone from touching these endangered creatures, so give them some space.

On my most recent visit, a tiger shark was circling the bay. It was very rare to see a shark in such shallow water, but he left after twenty minutes and we all jumped back into the water. This is just a side note; as long as you are in shallow water, you should not be afraid of sharks.

Green Sand Beach has the most beautiful rock formations in the world.  The green color comes from olivine, a mineral found by volcanoes.

Green Sand Beach has the most beautiful rock formations in the world. The green color comes from olivine, a mineral found by volcanoes.

6. Green Sand Beach (Mahana)

Activities

  • Surfing
  • Rock Jumping
  • Hiking/Climbing
  • Swimming

There aren't any bathrooms or pavilions at this beach because it is very secluded, natural and raw. In order to get to it, you will have to drive all the way to "South Point," walk down to the cliff and climb down to the shore. It's well-worth the hike!

This beach gets its name from the green-colored sand that covers the entire bay. The sand is green because of a mineral called olivine. Olivine is one of the minerals in the Earth's mantle and can only be found in places where the mantle is pushed through the crust, like volcanoes. The Big Island also has black sand beaches and grey-sand beaches, but this one is definitely the most intriguing because of the eroded lava rock cliffs that hold a unique shape.

7. Kahalu'u Beach Park

Activities

  • Snorkeling (the best!)
  • Swimming
  • Shell-collecting
  • Surfing (behind the wall)
  • Tanning

Extras and Amenities

  • Lots of fish and turtles
  • Shave-ice truck
  • Snack Shack
  • Bathrooms
  • Parking Lot

Kahalu'u Beach is often crowded, but for a good reason! This is the absolute best beach for snorkelers or anyone who wants to see lots of fish and turtles. The small bay is surrounded by a rock wall that Ancient Hawaiians built to capture fish. The small fish come in through the cracks in the wall, or when the tide is high. They stay in the bay and eat and when they try to leave, they are too big to fit back through the holes in the wall.

The beach is very mellow and I enjoy coming here to relax, look for starfish in the tide pools and watch the surfers behind the wall. One warning that I always give people visiting this beach is to watch out for pufferfish. They tend to follow snorkelers around, but they hardly ever puff up.

8. Kukio Bay

Activities

  • Swimming
  • Tanning
  • Tide pools (the best!)
  • Fishing
  • Sand Sports

Extras and Amenities

  • Private parking lot
  • Less crowding
  • Turtles
  • Bathrooms
  • Shade

Kukio Bay is a beautiful, serene beach with soft, white sand and turtles all around. This bay is surrounded by colorful reef that attracts all types of marine life. You may even see dolphins while you are there. This beach is great for children because there aren't really waves and the sandy swimming area is pretty shallow.

This beach has amazing tide pools also. Go to the right of the bay (when facing the water) and you will see a large area of lava rock. Pick up some rocks out of the tide pools and you may even find a brittle star! Sea cucumbers and small eels are also common in this place. (Remember to be respectful to these sea creatures and always put rocks back where you found them.)

You must enter Kukio through a gate, get a permit and make a U-turn to take the first right. This will lead you down to the beach parking lot, where you will leave your car and walk down a path with lava rock and a great view of the blue ocean.

best-beaches-on-the-big-island-of-hawaii

© 2011 Brittany Kennedy

Comments

Stephanie Launiu from Hawai'i on May 30, 2015:

Mahalo nui for your beautiful hub on Big Island beaches. I have pinned it to my "Hawaiian Beaches" and "Big Island of Hawaii" boards on pinterest. https://www.pinterest.com/hawaiianmania/

Aloha, Stephanie

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on October 10, 2014:

Reading through this hub makes me want to hop on a plane right now. Thanks for sharing.

laadhy from Maldives- The Paradise on Earth on June 05, 2012:

I am sure if you have been to Maldives you will be so surprised because of its natural beauty. By the way very nice hub.

Veronica Roberts from Ohio, USA on March 21, 2012:

Beautiful, well-illustrated & informed hub. I haven't been able to go to the Big Island, but hope to someday!!

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, & shared!

Brittany Kennedy (author) from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on March 20, 2012:

Thank you, Brinafr3sh! Hopefully you can visit some day.

Brinafr3sh from West Coast, United States on March 19, 2012:

@ Brittanytodd, that's a blessing that you grew up in Hawaii near the beautiful beaches. Very nice photos as well, voted up.

Mike Shollenberger aka (e)WEBJOCK on December 31, 2011:

I'm looking at a possible Hawaii trip in June. Will be bookmarking this as a core part of my travel guide! Thanks so much!

jason flaugh on December 31, 2011:

Thank you for sharing! Your article brought back old memories.

Phil Jansen on December 31, 2011:

Thank you for a well informed article Brittany. I bookmark your page and will recommend these beaches to all my friends. Thank you for all the beautiful photo's of the beaches. God Bless!

Brittany Kennedy (author) from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on December 07, 2011:

Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Pamela! I hope you will get to visit someday soon.

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on December 07, 2011:

Great information. I hope to visit Hawaii someday and this will come in handy. Beautiful pictures.

Brittany Kennedy (author) from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on November 01, 2011:

Mahalo!

hush4444 from Hawaii on November 01, 2011:

Very well-written and well-formatted hub! I particularly enjoyed the pictures of the honu.

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on October 31, 2011:

Ah, Mahalo, I have not heard that since the last time I was in Kauai. The islands are great as well as your information. You did a really nice job piecing it together. Thumbs up.

Brittany Kennedy (author) from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 31, 2011:

Mahalo nui loa, Derdriu. I hope people enjoy it. I will be adding more beaches and sights to it soon, so keep checking the post if you ever want to explore the Big Island. Thank you again.

Derdriu on October 31, 2011:

BrittanyTodd: Thank you for such a clear, informative, and logical hub on such a fascinating, timely topic as Hawaii's beaches. You organize your information beautifully, with great photos and useful maps. There will be no way to experience other than a vacation to its fullest and most enjoyable with all your cautions, insights and recommendations.

Voted up, and all categories also,

Derdriu