Big Island, Hawaii, Travel

A Beachin’ Time on the Big Island

If there is one teensy-tiny-little drawback to the Big Island (if there even is such a thing), it would be the limited number of beaches on the island. When you fly into Kona you’ll see a gorgeous coastline of solid lava rock and if you’re anything like me, you may wonder, “Where are all my beaches at?!” 🙂 The Big Island is relatively young (by island standards), so its beaches have had less time to develop, resulting in fewer beaches found along its shores. Yet, what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, and if you look a little closer you’ll uncover white sand, black sand, and even a green sand beach nestled in along Hawaii’s volcanic coastline.

After spending our first few days having a blast (literally) over on the eastern side of the island, we drove over to Kona ready to spend the next few days relaxing on some of the Big Island’s best beaches. I had a list of beautiful beaches to explore (all in the name of research, of course) and a serious deficiency of Vitamin Sea to replenish. And while we still have a long list of beaches to enjoy, there were quite a few that stood out as some of the best around:

White Sands/Magic Sands

White Sands, Big Island, Hawaii
There’s a reason why they call it Magic Sands…

We found this little gem of a beach on our first visit to the Big Island, and we loved it even more on our second trip. Luckily for us, White Sands is just down the street from our condo in Kona, so we found ourselves here almost every day. This tiny beach has it all: soft sand, palm trees, shade, a picnic area, showers, and lifeguards. And although we didn’t get to swim as much as we wanted (thanks a lot, high surf advisories), we did enjoy our lazy afternoons relaxing at the beach.

Magic Sands, Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Mauna Kea

Sunset at Mauna Kea Beach, Big Island Hawaii
Incredible sunset at Mauna Kea Beach

Fair warning: parking here is a bitch. There is an option to valet at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel if there are no available spots, so bring cash, just in case. This beach is undoubtedly one of the best beaches on the Big Island so don’t let the commute from Kona or the parking issues dissuade you from checking it out on your next visit.

Over a quarter-of-a-mile long, this crescent-shaped beach offers plenty of space for everyone and has the softest white sand. On the left side of Mauna Kea you’ll find an outcropping of lava rock which has good snorkeling if the surf isn’t too high. And the sunsets here are just heavenly. 

Mauna Kea Beach, Big Island, Hawaii
Not our sand castle. Someone out there is quite the sandcastle builder.

Mauna Kea Beach, Big Island, Hawaii


Punalu'u Beach, Big Island, Hawaiii

Oh, Punalu’u… Be still my heart. Located on Hawaii’s south shore, this black sand beach was made for picture perfect postcards. Not only is the area a photographer’s dream, but it also happens to be a frequent hang out for Hawaiian Sea Turtles. I guess they know a good beach when they find one. With a grove of palm trees, picnic areas, restrooms, and that unmistakable exotic black sand, this beach is not to be missed.

Turtles at Punalu'u Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Punalu'u Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Honorable mentions: Kaualu’u Beach Park (excellent snorkeling), Old Airport Beach (go early and enjoy breakfast on the beach while watching the surfers), and Makalawena (recommended by my friend Auntie Doni).

Hawaii and sunsets just go together. Like PB & J. Homer and Duff. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. And some of my favorite moments in Hawaii are the quiet times we’ve spent watching the sunset. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting in the sand (on one of the incredible beaches above), listening to the ocean, and watching the sun set on another incredible day in Paradise.

15 thoughts on “A Beachin’ Time on the Big Island”

  1. +1 to you for scuba diving and your photography, bring this world closer to all. Good to see that you go to Mauna Kea, the overall tallest mountain ( taller than Mt. Everest) on planet Earth.

    1. Such an interesting fact about Mauna Kea! 🙂 I remember hearing that somewhere before and have always found it fascinating. So another interesting fact… Mauna Kea Beach isn’t super close to Mauna Kea the mountain. You think it would be, right?! 🙂 We did have a chance to drive by Mauna Kea on our way over to the East side, but we didn’t stop at the top this time.
      Thanks for commenting!

        1. You can see Mauna Kea from all over the island, but Mauna Kea beach is closer to the Northern part of the island. Mauna Kea had snow on its peak while we were there. So while we played on the beach, we could look up and see snow. So crazy! 🙂

  2. On my last blog, “Pele – the Fire Goddess” on my website, I posted the link to YOUR Hawaii blog. You are wonderful, you are to be envied for your chance to do the traveling NOW, when you are young! I look at all your postings and pictures. I had to catch up in my ‘later years’ – but I know the beaches you talk about. I love Kona, I love the Big Island, I love Kona Coffee!

    1. Giselle,

      Thank you so much for your comment. 🙂 I’m happy that you enjoyed the post. I really enjoyed reading your post about Madame Pele; I especially appreciated all of the thoughtful detail you shared about Pele’s history and her importance, even to this day. And I completely agree about not taking any lava rock home!! My motto: “Take only photos, leave only footprints” (or best case, NO footprints). 🙂 That is so neat you were able to read letters from people around the world who sent the lava rocks back to Hawaii. What an experience.
      Thank you so much for your kind words and for linking to my blog. I really appreciate it. I’m so happy to have you here and look forward to chatting more.
      Have a great week!

  3. HEH! Mahalo nui loa my friend for the shout out. Love the Big Island or as I here mainlanders now calling it Hawaii Island. My family originates from Honokaa/Paauilo area, so kinda familiar with the place. 😉

    1. Auntie,
      That is the one area of the Big Island we have yet to check out. 🙂 That and the Kohala district. Next time… next time. When we go back to the Big Island I will definitely be reaching out for some advice.
      Have a great week!

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