Best Beaches on Hawaii's Big Island


West Hawaii Island’s Kua Bay on a crystal blue day.

Most people, imagine Hawaii with white sand beaches, coco palms, and warm, clear waters. Hawaii Island, the biggest and most diverse in terms of terrain and climate offers much, much more to discover — an active volcano, tropical rainforests,  the world’s tallest mountain as measured from the ocean floor, rolling hills and ranch land, quaint upcountry towns and ocean side villages are among the many places and things to explore.

Of course, we all need a beach day to enjoy the special marine environment here and I’m frequently asked to share some of my favorites – I’m happy to do that here, focusing on my top picks along the spectacular Kona/Kohala Coastline.

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The iconic Mauna Kea beach fronting the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast.

Mauna Kea Beach

Frequently named one of the world’s best beaches by travel publications and beach aficionados worldwide, Mauna Kea beach on Kauna‘oa Bay is an all-around great choice whether you’re in pursuit of traditional Hawaiian ocean activities or you’re looking for a beautiful place to kick back and relax. It’s perfect for multi-generational families from the young to young at heart. Added bonus, the Hau Tree restaurant and bar sits beachside and serves up delicious food and beverage.

Great snorkeling and paddling are offered up at the Mauna Lani Beach Resort. Extra special: the Beach cove and coastline fronting the resort’s Fairmont Orchid hotel is a favorite sunning and resting spot for our Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (Honu). The shallow, calm waters in the cove also are perfect for those new to ocean swimming and sports such as stand up paddling.

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The beach at Mauna Lani Resort’s Fairmont Orchid hotel.

Hapuna Beach

Best known for nearly year-round body boarding and body surfing conditions, Hapuna Beach State Park is popular with boarding enthusiasts, open ocean swimmers and sun seekers alike. Family fun, including sand sculpting and picnicking abound.

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Hapuna Beach State Park.

Kikaua Point

For families with toddlers and young children (keiki) a hands-down favorite is the calm, protected waters at Kikaua Point near Kukio. While this is one of the most exclusive residential communities on the island, all beaches in Hawaii are accessible to the public. In many cases, however, there are a limited number of beach parking passes available at the various hotels and resorts – plan to arrive early or later in the day to get a prime spot.