The Big Island of Hawai’i is home to miles of pristine beaches, each with their own character. While you’ll find postcard-perfect white sand beaches lining its coastline, you’ll also find exotic black and green sand beaches as well, adding an element of interest to your beach hopping options. Those basing their stay in Kona will find plenty of nearby beaches to choose from, including the beautiful Makalawena Beach in the Big Island. Set aside some time to explore this pristine stretch of sand for a peaceful island escape!
Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawai’i
Depending on your preferred beach day activity, opinions differ on which are the best beaches on the Big Island. While some are great for surfing or snorkeling, others are better for simply relaxing along the shoreline to catch a magical sunset. Most agree that Makalawena/Pu’u Ali’i Beach is among the best!
Most often referred to as Makalawena Beach in the Big Island, this secluded slice of white sand requires some effort to get to, though it is doable by most visitors. The beach is situated within Pu’u Ali’i Bay, where you’ll find a string of crescent beaches and waters rich with marine life. The pristine crescent-shaped stretch of white sand lined with crystal clear blue waters at Makalawena Beach is well worth the trek! The shoreline is picturesque here, with black lava rocks contrasting the sand and a lush grove of palm trees arching along the skyline. You’ll often find calm waters at Makalawena Beach, and the sandy ocean bottom near the center of the beach makes it great for taking a refreshing dip. Be sure to pack your snorkel to explore the rocky outcroppings, where you’ll often find a variety of tropical marine life hiding out.
Be sure to explore the back of the beach (the side toward the mountains), where you’ll find Opae’ula Pond, a 12-acre freshwater pond that is a National Natural Landmark. This nesting and breeding area is a great location to spot some of the island’s most beautiful birds. The endangered Hawaiian stilt bird and black-crowned night heron can often be found here feasting on the red shrimp found in the pond. The pond is surrounded by private property which should not be ventured onto, but birds can often be spotted from the beach if you keep a lookout!
There are no facilities or amenities on Makalawena Beach in Hawaii, which is a large part of its charm. This secluded beach void of development makes it feel as if you’re on your own private island. Be sure to bring everything you want to make your beach day enjoyable, and pack everything out. Makalawena Beach is a great place to spend the day if you’ve brought along plenty of food, water, and shade! If you’re coming to Kona with friends or family, be sure to check out our large vacation rentals so all the members can have their own privacy!
Planning Your Visit to Makalawena Beach in Hawaii
Located just a couple miles north of the Kona International Airport, many visitors are surprised to find such a stunning beach with such proximity. Makalawena/Pu’u Ali’i is located within Kekaha Kai State Park, and you’ll find the access road on Highway 19 between mile markers 90 and 91. The access road is unpaved, and drivers should evaluate the present conditions before proceeding in a car with low clearance. Take your time driving down this stretch of road, stopping at the gate located on the south side of the road approximately 1.5 miles from the highway. Once you’ve parked near the gate, proceed north along the road on foot to nearby Mahaiula Beach. At the north end of this beach you’ll find a historic house, and beyond that, the trail leading across a lava field to Makalawena Beach. This portion of the trail takes approximately 15-20 minutes and just when you were wishing you started the trek earlier to avoid the mid-day sun, you’ll spot sand dunes and the inviting waters of Makalawena Beach. Reward yourself with an epic beach day along one of the Big Island’s most beautiful white sand beaches!
Nearby Points of Interest
Makalawena/Pu’u Ali’i is part of the larger Kekaha Kai State Park, which also offers access to Mahaiula Beach to the south and Maniniowali Beach to the north. All three of the beaches within Kekaha Kai State Park offer soft white sand, crystal clear waters, and excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities when the waters are calm. A 4.5-mile stretch of the Ala Kahakai National Historical Trail also weaves its way through the park, offering miles of options for further exploration. This is part of a larger 175-mile trail network that weaves its way through ancient Hawaiian settlement sites and land divisions located along the west coast of the Big Island.
Find Your Kona Accommodations
With its proximity to beautiful beaches such as Makalawena/Pu’u Ali’i as well as ample shopping, dining, and activities, it is no wonder Kona is such a highly desirable vacation destination. Browse these upscale Kona vacation rentals today and contact us at Venture Hawaii to turn your island dreams into reality! Check out our apartment vacation rentals in Kona.