Looking for the best beaches in Kona? You’re in luck! We put together a list of the 11 best Kona beaches for all types of travelers!
Be it sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, surfing, or just hanging out, Kona provides all of that within a short drive.
Here, is our selection of the best beaches of Kona, which you should not miss when visiting this magical place on Big Island, Hawaii.
Best Beaches in Kona
Being west-facing, the entire Kona coastline offers some of the most scenic sunsets you will ever see on the planet. Don’t believe us? Come and see for yourselves!
Situated next to the Honokohau Harbor is the white-sand ‘Alula Beach, flanked by black lava rocks, which provide shelter from the ocean and wonderful rock pools for children to cool off and explore at low tide.
A perfect beach for families with small children. Snorkeling here is ideal for novices, with shallow, clear, and calm water and loads of turtles all year round.
A little further out the rock wall plunges to over 40 feet deep, creating a perfect hang-out for thousands of tropical fish and a stunning setting for experienced divers, especially underwater photographers.
Being part of the Kalolo-Honokohau National Historic Park, a short walk will take you to an ancient Hawaiian temple and other historic buildings. Parking, restrooms, and food stores are available a few minutes’ walk away at the harbor.
Read next: Best Scuba Diving in Hawaii
Stretching over a mile wide and tucked beneath towering cliffs, just twelve miles south of downtown Kona, is Kealakekua Bay.
Here, endless coral reefs in gin-clear water bursting with marine life, mesmerizing scuba divers, snorkelers, and kayakers no end.
Morning is the best time to go there to avoid the crowds and witness Hawaii’s famous spinner dolphins strutting their stuff.
You can access the bay by a vehicle near Manini Beach, south of the bay, where kayaks and diving gear can be rented, or hike the two-mile Captain Cook Memorial Trail, from Nāpō’opo’o Road.
The trailhead will lead you to the northern end of the bay and one of Hawaii’s most famous historical sites – the Captain Cook Monument.
This is the spot where Captain Cook was killed less than a year after becoming the first European to set foot in Hawaii.
A plaque in the surf marks the spot where he was bludgeoned and stabbed to death. There are no facilities at the monument so take all you will need.
Not a sandy beach to lie on, just big volcanic rocks, but it certainly ranks highly amongst the best beaches in Kona.
King Kamehameha / Kamakahonu Beach
Conveniently located in the middle of Kona on the north side of Kailua Bay, this popular beach offers a full day on the beach with all the amenities you would need.
King Kam Beach has practically everything. Calm and shallow waters, safe swimming, snorkeling, fishing and is an excellent location for kayaking along the picturesque coastline.
For the culture vultures, the Kamakahonu Historical Site is situated in the middle of the bay.
On the right side of the bay, there is a shaded picnic and barbeque area overlooking the winding rocky shoreline and the crystal blue ocean as a background. Shops and countless eating joints are within a few minutes walk away.
There are basic amenities on the beach, including an outdoor shower for rinsing off, making it a delightful place for a family with small children to spend the entire day, without having to drive anywhere. Certainly one of the most easily accessible of all Kona beaches.
This Kona beach in Kekaha Kai State Park is not suitable for families with small children as it is one of the most secluded beaches in Kona.
Still, if you have a high-clearance 4×4, or are prepared to hike for four miles return over rough black lava rocks, with no trace of civilization in sight, you will be rewarded with a view you may never forget as long as you live.
Once you arrive at the bay, the lifeless lunar-like landscape you have hiked on is transformed into a most scenic paradise setting to leave you speechless.
A snow-white, palm-fringed, sandy beach tucked beneath high dunes, with miles of pristine reefs teeming with life in crystal blue waters.
A snorkeler’s paradise! And the best part is that you may have all this to yourself! Please bring all your provisions for the day as there is nothing at Makalawena Beach. That’s what makes it one of the best beaches in Kona.
Hikers can park their cars on the side of the highway between mile markers 88 and 89.
Honokohau / “Kona Dog” Beach
This Kona beach is one of the very few Hawaiian Beaches where unleashed dogs can run free and frolic in the ocean.
A healthy, living, and easily accessible reef close to the shore also provides excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.
Divers do need to be aware of boat traffic coming in and out of the harbor on the right side of the bay. Keep your dog away from any turtles that often visit this beach.
There are no facilities here, so please take all your provisions, including your dog poop bags. Park your vehicle at the gravel car park at the end of Kealakehe Pkwy and scramble over some rocks for about 70 yards to get to the bay and beach.
Kahalu’u Beach Park
A short drive south of downtown Kona brings you to Kahalu’u Beach Park, where a small sheltered beach and offshore reef, teeming with underwater life, offers excellent swimming, snorkeling, and boating.
Numerous species of tropical fish, octopus, and turtles can be seen here in crystal clear water all year round, making it one of the best snorkeling beaches on Big Island.
The right side of the bay offers some great surfing in the right conditions.
You could easily spend the entire day here sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing, with food joints and all bathroom facilities including free parking spots, readily available, and lifeguard on duty.
The black sand beach and lava rocks make water shoes necessary, and as it can get crowded on weekends, it’s best to go there early.
Honaunau Bay / Two Step
Another fantastic snorkeling spot can be found at Honaunau Bay, where two steps cut by nature into the ancient black lava rocks on the water’s edge send you directly into an underwater wonderland.
Acres of spectacular coral reefs teeming with shoals of multi-colored fish, turtles, and, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of spinning dolphins or even a seal—a truly magnificent place to snorkel for novice and experienced divers.
Limited parking across the street costs $5 per vehicle. Otherwise, street parking is the other option. No food joints are available close by, so bring your own snacks and drinks.
Manini’owali Beach / Kua Bay Beach
Another stunning beach just 14 miles north of Kalua Kona is Maniniowali Beach in the Kekaha Kai State Park.
A snow-white sandy beach sandwiched between black lava rocks on each side, providing excellent snorkeling, kayaking and swimming during the calm summer months, and strong waves perfect for experienced surfers during winter months. Green sea turtles and dolphins are frequent visitors to this beach.
Very little shade is available, so it’s best to avoid the midday sun and the crowds. Showers and toilets are available at the car park, but there are no food joints nearby unless there is a food truck. Sunsets from here are a photographer’s dream.
Kikaua Point Beach Park
Another stunning location for families with small children and where turtles abound is Kikaua Point Beach Park.
Having all the facilities you would need to spend the entire day here, it surely ranks amongst the best beaches in Kona.
This human-made cove has a white sand beach flanked by black lava rocks providing shelter, giving it a lagoon-like look.
Access to the parking area (somewhat limited) is gained through the Kukio Golf Resort, from where a paved, wheelchair-friendly path leads you to the beach and restrooms, showers, and drinking water.
Palm trees and a grassy patch provide the perfect resting spot for a picnic on the beach. Simply stunning!
Kohanaiki Beach Park
Situated seven miles north of Kona and just south of the airport is a stunning beach park, which, although not a great snorkeling hotspot, is a mecca for surfers and bodyboarders.
Green turtles also find this spot pretty cool to hang out. The beach is a combination of white sand and black volcanic rocks, but the seabed is mostly rocky.
An entrance fee of $5 per person gets you into this beautiful and serene park with ample parking almost on the beach.
Amenities include showers, bathrooms, and camping is allowed too. A permit is required for overnight camping, which can be obtained online.
Dotted throughout the park are various historical landmarks, such as petroglyphs, ancient structures, and fish ponds.
Trees provide ample shade in the picnic area, but it’s wise to get there early to book a good spot and enjoy this most beautiful beach.
Magic Sands Beach
Just four miles south of downtown Kona is one of the most popular beaches in Kona.
In winter, the white sands disappear completely, exposing a jagged rocky shoreline, only to mysteriously reappear in summer, earning itself the title of “Magic Sands”!
Unless extremely calm, it is not suited for small children as the waves can get pretty boisterous at times.
It is however the perfect destination for surfers, bodyboarders, and lovers of the foam. Try to avoid the rocky north side of the bay in rough conditions.
Free parking across the street and all the public amenities available make this beach popular with locals, but it can get crowded on weekends – ideal for sunbathing and people-watching.
Several food trucks are usually parked there, so no need to bring bags of grub.
Final Thoughts on Kona Beaches
The Hawaiian islands have some of the prettiest beaches in the USA.
We’re sure you will find a place to enjoy the good weather from remote beaches to popular spots. Bring your beach umbrella and aloha!
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