Although you will find a lot of lava beaches on the Big Island, we are well known for some great white sand and snorkeling beaches. Many of the white sand beaches are found in West Hawaii in Kailua-Kona and up along the Kohala Coast. You will find beaches that are great for boogie boarding, surfing, snorkeling, and enjoying the surf, along with calm protected beaches that are great for families with small children.
Below are Kona Concierge’s Top Picks when it comes to West Hawaii Beaches. Although all of the beaches are guest friendly on calm surf days, the surf, at times, can become rough so it is important to use good judgement when accessing all beaches at all times.
Kohala Coast Beaches
Also known as A Bay, this long sandy beach is popular to both locals and visitors. Located in the Waikoloa Beach Resort, A Bay is easily accessible and a good beach for all ages. This bay is protected by an offshore reef, which makes it safe except during high surf. If desired, you have the option to walk south to some nice isolated beach areas. A Bay has bathrooms, showers and parking available.
This large (1/2 mile long) white sandy beach is one of the nicest on the island. Located on the Kohala Coast (north of the 70 mile marker), it is approximately a 50 minute drive from Kailua-Kona and a 15 minute drive from Waikoloa Beach Resort. The clean, clear waters of the beach are great for swimming and boogie boarding. There is parking and full facilities at this beach: restrooms, showers, picnic areas, and snack bar.
This is one of my favorite beaches in West Hawaii. The beautiful white sand and the clear blue waters makes this beach a favorite. When the ocean is calm, the swimming is great and during the right surf, this is a good beach to boogie board. There is a bit of a hike down some lava rocks that can make it tricky for some to access the beach. The beach does have restrooms and showers. Kua Bay can be found right after the 88 mile marker coming north from Kailua-Kona.
Located near the Four Seasons, Kuki’o is a great choice for families during calm surf. It can get rough during high surf. Kuki’o Beach offers a nice white sandy beach and clear waters to enjoy. Kuki’o Beach turn off is off of Hwy 19 north of the 87 mile. Let the guard know you are going to Kuki’o Beach and they will direct you to the public parking. Go early because once the parking fills up, they will not allow any other guests.
Waialea (Beach 69)
Beach 69 is another great Kohala Coast Beach. What is nice about this beach is that it offers a beautiful white sandy beach and crystal blue calm waters along with shade from the trees that back the beach. Located north of the 69 mile marker on Hwy 19 you will turn left onto Puako Road and take your first right towards the beach.
Kona Area Beaches
Known for its great snorkeling, Kahalu’u Beach is a favorite for both the locals and guests. The snorkeling beach is a great place to get up-close to the beautiful reefs and abundant sea life. It is not unusual to find sea turtles swimming among the reefs. Kahalu’u Snorkeling Beach is a nice protected reef that is easily accessible, which makes this a great choice for both the beginning and advanced snorkeler. Located on Alii Drive just south of the 5 mile marker, Kahalu’u Beach is a great beach to spend the day. Kahalu’u Beach is also known for its good surfing. Just a few yards north of the snorkeling beach, you will find many locals and guests enjoying the surf on both paddleboard and surf boards. Kahalu’u Beach is often used for surf instructions so if you get the urge to take a lesson, there are some great surf schools that are available to give lessons.
White Sands Beach
Located just north of the 4 mile marker on Alii Drive, this is a centrally located white sand beach in Kailua-Kona. This beach is a fun beach for people to frolic and play in the water. It is also called Magic Sands Beach because, throughout the year, the sand disappears and then slowly drifts back. Be aware that when the sand has “disappeared” from the beach, the water is difficult and dangerous to access. Please use caution. Although there is a lifeguard on duty, the lava makes water access dangerous. This beach can get very crowded; however, it is a good choice for enjoying the beach and surf when safe.
Child Friendly Beaches
There are several kid-friendly beaches in Kona. Here are a few beaches that are protected by the surf.
Kamakahonu Beach is located next to the King Kamehameha Hotel in Downtown Kailua-Kona. Part of the Kailua Bay, this small, protected sandy beach is a good choice for both adults and children. The calm waters make this a good choice for families with small children. Many of the locals use this beach for paddling and you can rent paddle boards and water toys right there at Kona Boys. Parking can be tricky. You have the option of parking at the King Kamehameha Hotel for a fee, or at one of the public parking lots in downtown and take a short walk to the beach.
Keiki Ponds (Children’s Ponds)
There is another protected beach area locally named the Keiki ponds (children’s ponds). They are located behind the public swimming complex and soccer fields located on Kuakini Hwy. To get to the beach, you will take Kuakini Hwy north toward Old Airport. Turn into the sports complex and park in the parking lot behind the swimming pool and gymnasium. You will walk across the soccer field into the Kona Bay Estates residential community. You will find beach access that will take you to the ponds.
Koloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
One of my favorite beaches close to Kona, Koloko-Honokohau offers a great, protected white sandy beach. This beautiful Historical Park offers white sandy beaches, calm protected waters, and an abundance to beautiful viewing opportunities. Whether you sit on the sand and enjoy the solitude of the beach, or take a swim in the calm, crystal waters, people of all ages will love this beach. Keep a look out for the sea turtles that make this area their home. You can access Koloko-Honokohau Beach through the Honokohau Harbor. Take Hwy 19 just north of Kona, turn left at Kealakehe Pkwy and into the Honokohau Harbor. Take your first right and follow the road to the very end. The beach is a short walk north/west of the parking.
Beware that the conditions at all beaches change day by day, so use discretion while at the beaches.