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
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.
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.
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.
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.