What are the top beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii?

The Big Island is the largest island in Hawaii. Locals call it The Island, which comprises three of the state’s most prominent mountains: Kilauea, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea. The Big Island is home to rich rainforests, lovely volcanoes, and valleys. But most of all, the Big Island is known for its magnificent beaches which will be featured in this article.   

The Regions of Big Island

Hilo 

The Hilo region, consisting of Hilo town, is known for Wailuku River State Park, known for its Rainbow Falls. There are two district that divides the Hilo region: Hilo’ Akau in the north and Hilo Hema in the south. 

Kona 

A district of the Big Island famous for the location of the Ironman World Championship Triathlon (an annual culmination of Ironman triathlon qualification races held throughout the world, which has been held in Hawaii since 1978). Kona means the leeward or dry side of the island in Hawaiian language.

Kohala

Kohala is known for being the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, who united the islands of Hawaii. Kohala is home to many ancient Hawaiian settlements, including Lapakahi, a 600-year-old fishing village.

Hamakua

The region boasts lush tropical rainforests, waterfalls, and green valleys. The Hamakua region is home to the Hamakua Coast, one of the island’s most beautiful stretches of scenery.

Puna

It is located n the windward side of the Big Island. The region is believed to be connected to a volcano goddess. Frequent lava activity happens in the area, primarily because it is designated as Lava Zones 1-3, the most active zones.

Ka’u

Ka’u lives on the southern tip of the Big Island. The region has the longest undeveloped coastline on the Hawaiian Islands.

Main Industry

It is not that hard to spot that one of the main industries of the Big Island is tourism. Tourism is also the largest industry of other towns and islands in Hawaii and the state itself. 

Airports

As tourism is the main industry of the island, airports enable its tourists and locals to go back and forth to the island. The Big Island is consist of two airports, and these are:

1. Hilo International Airport:

Located on the east side of the island particularly in Hilo city. It is formerly called as Lyman Field. 

2. Kona International Airport:

Located on the west side of the Big Island. Majority of visitors to the Big Island fly into and depart from the Kona Airport since there are greater number of airlines that provide service into Kona. Also because, the west side of the island has most of the best beaches.

Top Beaches on the Big Island 

1. Papakōlea Green Sand Beach

Papakōlea Hawaii green beach

Papakolea is one of the top attractions of the Ka’u district. It would take about 2.5 miles of hiking before reaching the beach. Papakolea Green Sand Beach is also known simply as Papakolea or Mahana Beach. The beach is enveloped in an old cinder cone of the Mauna Loa volcano. The beach possesses a green color of sand from the green crystals from the cinder cone called olivine. Swimming is possible, but children must be guided, as no lifeguards safeguard the area. This part of the Big Island can be windy and hot, so tourists need to bring sunscreen and a hat to protect them. 

 2. Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

Punaluʻu Black beach Hawaii view

Two main things are captivating about Punaluʻu Beach; first is its black sand, and second is the appearance of endangered Hawksbill turtles and green turtles relaxing under the sun’s heat. The news is that tourists are not allowed to touch them and only view them from a distance. The black sand is made of small pitch-black remains of lava. If you are keen, you might find more significant parts of an old lava flow. Several sturdy coconut palms line the shore of the beach, which gives a good shade for those who do not want to swim. Speaking of swimming, the beach can have strong currents that might be dangerous for children or people who do not know how to swim.  

3. Hāpuna Beach

Hāpuna Beach Hawaii

Hapuna beach is among the broadest white sand beaches on the Big Island. The beach is along the Kohala Coast and is open daily from 7 am to 8 pm. It is said that migrating whales were often sight on the beach in the past. The beach offers many amenities, including parking spaces with food vendors, picnic areas, restrooms, and showers.

 4. Mauna Kea Beach

Mauna Kea Beach Hawaii

Mauna Kea Beach is also referred to as Kauna’oa Beach. It is a family-friendly white sand beach with palm trees along the fringe to provide shade. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is the nearest hotel that gives an accessible way to the beach. Snorkeling is possible during summer when the weather is calm, and the currents are not too strong.

5. Makalawena Beach

Makalawena Beach Hawaii

The beach is reachable through a hike of about 2 miles. It is a long and memorable trip to this beach, so ensure you have a light load to keep up. Makalawena is a part of the Kekaha State Park, comprising mixed shady lava rocks and a long trail55 of three different beach areas. Before planning a trip and swimming to the beach, ensure you know the weather condition, as the currents can be strong and dangerous.

6. Manini’owali Beach

Manini'owali Beach Hawaii
Manini’owali is found north of Kona. It is another white sand beach that commonly sees turtles and occasional dolphins. In 2019, they added a parking lot and lifeguard stations. The best time to visit the beach is during weekdays as the weekend might be full of locals and tourists. This beach is also a part of the Kekaha State Park, just like Makalawena beach.

7. Waialea Bay

Waialea Bay Hawaii

This beach is famous during the summer, mainly because of the excellent combination of shade and suitable snorkeling activities. A small residential area is accessible and can be a good stay-in-place for tourists who want easy access to the beach. Although there are no lifeguards in the area, showers and restrooms are usable.

 8. Richardson Beach Park

Richardson Beach Park Hawaii

Richardson is another gorgeous black and green sand just 10 minutes south of the heart of Hilo. The beach possesses shallow and calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. This area is also a common sight of endangered Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles. Marine life seems to thrive on this beach as nearby freshwater flows from adjacent springs. The grassy areas of the beach are a good spot for a picnic. 

9. Anaeho’omalu Beach

Anaeho'omalu Hawaii

Sometimes referred to as A-Bay, it is a family-friendly beach that is ideal for a range of ocean activities. The beach would rent snorkel gear if tourists forgot to bring their equipment. The mountains surrounding the beach are also an excellent view to look at. The A Bay sunset is also an anticipated view in the afternoon.

10. Kahaluʻu Beach

Kahaluʻu Beach Hawaii

Kahalu’u is a wide protected bay on the Kona coast just a few miles south of Kailua-Kona town center. The beach is said to have a meaningful Hawaiian cultural history, as it was a royal residence in the 18th and 19th centuries.  

11. Pololū Valley Black Sand Beach

Another black sand beach on the Big Island. Pololū Valley Black sand beach is carved into the Kohala volcano at the lush green pastures of Kohala region. The fantastic view of the valley and sheer cliffs makes it a worthy destination.

12. Spencer Beach Park

The former chairperson of the Hawaii County Board of Supervisors, Samuel M. Spencer, is the reference for the beach’s name. He made the development of the north Kohala Coast possible. It is another white sand beach on the Big Island with shallow water and a soft, smooth shore that is an excellent playground spot for children. 

Final Thoughts

The Big Island of Hawaii is literally a big island of fun adventure and lovely beaches. It does not only offer a place for swimming, snorkeling, or picnic, but one that will surely leave a good memory for tourists. If you plan in going to the Big Island, you must not miss going to at least one of the beaches mentioned above.