Big Island beaches all have a unique beauty, invoking wonder from visitors and residents alike. Instead of the typical soft, white sand beaches that you may find elsewhere, Big Island beaches are usually a little more rugged with a mixture of sand and harsh black lava rocks contrasting with clear tranquil waters and green lush mountains in the backdrop.
Located in Waikoloa Resort is a calm bay with clear water and beautiful coral reef, known as A-Bay. Palm trees are scattered throughout the beach and next to the bay you will find two historic fishponds. The bay is a great spot to relax for the afternoon, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding are all great activities to enjoy here!
Hapuna Beach is one of the island’s most expansive white sand beach. Hapuna Beach is proof that not all big island beaches are covered in lava! It’s calm water, picturesque views, and perfectly soft white sand has earned Hapuna Beach a spot on many “best beaches” list across the world.
Just north of Kona, turn off Hwy 19 into Kekaha Kai State Park onto a rugged 2-mile lava road and you will arrive at Mahi’ulas Beach. A stunning beach with a tree line that reaches almost to the coastline makes for some good spots of shade. From this beach, take the 15-20 minute walk north on a rough lava rock path and you will arrive at Makalawena, a secluded oasis that at first might feel like a mirage! With the almost always calm water and sunny skies, many consider it to be their favorite beach on the island.
La’aloa, also known as Magic Sands or White Sands is one of the easiest beaches to access in Kailua-Kona. Located right off of Ali’i Drive, this beach is known to have magic or “disappearing” sand after a large winter swell. One day this will be an inviting white sand beach while the next day you might find a vastly contrasting rocky beach. This is a popular spot to catch the sunset and bodysurf or boogeyboard when the waves are big!
Manini’owali Beach, also known as Kua Bay, is another white sand beach located in a small bay just north of Kona. While the water can sometimes be calm, Kua bay is a popular spot for bodyboadying and boogeyboarding when the waves are big! Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen to this sunny beach, there is almost no shade.
There are only a few green sand beaches in the world, and one of them is located on Big Island’s southern most point. Papakolea Beach is located in a bay that was formed after the eruption of a cinder cone on Mauna Loa Volcano. Getting to Green Sands Beach can be a trek, you can choose to hike in from South Point Road (round trip of about six miles) or you can opt to pay a small fee for a local guide to drive you in in a 4WD.
Punalu’u Beach is one of the Big Island’s most popular black sand beaches! The black sand that has been formed from cooled basaltic lava rocks, stretches across this expansive beach on the southern coast of the Big Island. While not the best beach for swimming due to strong current, this is a great beach to relax on the sand and watch the honu!
Waialea Beach, also known as 69’s beach, has rich marine life making it a popular choice for snorkeling and scuba diving. This is a white sand beach, although it does have rough lava rock and plenty of trees for shade scattered through the shore.