Big Island Beaches

The Island of Hawaiʻi, also known as the Big Island, is home to diverse and unique beaches. From the white sands of Hapuna Beach State Park to the mysterious Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Hawaiʻi Island stands out in it’s varied coastline vistas. When landing in Kona, one glance out the airplane window at the endless stretch of black lava fields and you may question whether you boarded the correct flight! While much of Hawaiʻi Island’s coastline is indeed lava rock, white sandy beaches are found cradled within the glorious blankets of black lava.

Beach access on Hawaiʻi Island is relatively simple if you have a vehicle. A few require a four-wheel drive, but most can be reached with a standard car. All beaches on the island are public, but some are easier to get to than others. Not all beaches have lifeguards so use caution and check water conditions before venturing out for a day in the sun.
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Most locals would agree the best Big Island beaches are on the Kona (west) side of the island. The westside of Hawaiʻi Island is sunnier and drier, significantly increasing the number of perfect beach days. Here are a few ‘not to miss’ beaches to visit on your next trip to Hawaiʻi Island:

Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach is one of Hawaiʻi’s most popular locations. With white sand beaches, picnic areas and life guards, it’s easy to see why Hapuna Beach is a favorite among travelers and locals alike. Hapuna Beach is located in the South Kohala District on the westside of Hawaiʻi Island. However, even though lifeguards are present, always use extra caution as the calm looking waters often hide dangerous rip tides and undertows.

White Sands/Magic Sands Beach

This little beach in the heart of Kailua-Kona can have lovely white sand one day and then over night, during rough wave conditions, the sand can literally wash away leaving only the black lava rock exposed. When the waves are calm, the sand slowly reappears. This is a great place to people watch, however if you’re not comfortable in the water, it’s not advised to dive in. The waves are known to be quite powerful.

Kahaluu Beach Park

Kahaluʻu Beach Park is a popular spot for both locals and visitors. Great snorkeling, and perfect beginner surfing waves, makes this beach a year round favorite. It’s located just south of Kona on Aliʻi Drive and offers a safe place for swimming and other ocean activities.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Located between Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and the small town of Naʻalehu, is the black sand beach of Punaluʻu. A favorite lounging spot for Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, Punaluʻu is gracefully lined with coconut palm trees and cool breezes. The black sand is made from the abundant black lava surrounding the area. Don’t forget your sandals because the black sand gets extra hot!

Kua Bay

Gorgeous and perfect. This is Kua Bay. One of the best swimming and sunbathing beaches on the Island of Hawaiʻi. If the crystal clear water doesn’t take your breath away, nothing will. Bring lots of sunscreen and water because you won’t want to leave. The one downside is there are no lifeguards stationed at this beach. Besides that one downfall, it’s one of the most beautiful and easily accessible beaches on the island.

Honu at black sand beach Punaluu. Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson.

Beaches

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