The Kona region on the west side of Hawaii’s Big Island is arguably one of the best places on the island for a beach vacation. The best beaches in Kona are sheltered from the trade winds by Maunaloa, offering calm, clear waters for snorkeling and diving.
In addition to the many sandy beaches in Kona, this side of the island also offers a wealth of historic Hawaiian landmarks. There’s also plenty of shops, restaurants, and nightlife.
Best Beaches in Kona
The beauty of visiting any island is the bounty of beautiful beaches to enjoy. Visiting Big Island is no different, whether you plan to simply laze on the beach or do some excellent snorkeling on Big Island. If you’re looking for the best beach in Kona, you’ve come to the right place.
Plan your visit to Kona and Big Island’s beaches with our list of the best beaches in Kailua-Kona. We’ve included a variety of options, including some of the best Kona beaches for swimming as well as the best places to snorkel in Kona.
1. Kealakekua Bay
In 1778, Captain James Cook became the first British explorer to arrive in Hawaii, making landfall in Kealakekua Bay. He was killed here in battle a year later. Turbulent history aside, this beautiful bay is a popular spot with locals and tourists.
This is one of the best places to snorkel in Kona; clear ocean waters are home to an amazing variety of tropical fish. If you’d like to escape the crowds, head out on a catamaran snorkel trip to a less crowded location. Sometimes the bay is also visited by spinner dolphins – a real treat to see.
2. Kamakahonu Beach
While not the biggest of beaches, Kamakahonu Beach is a great place for beginner snorkelers and beginner divers. Set between a large pier and a rocky outcrop, the beach offers some of the calmest waters you’ll find on the island.
Snorkelers and kayakers will be able to find shacks renting out gear if you need it. You can also book a diving tour from here, too, if you want something adventurous to do in Kona.
This protected bay is also great if you’re visiting with children. The water is ideal for safe swimming here, and there are basic amenities on the beach like showers. Refreshments and food are available at the hotel nearby.
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3. White Sand Beach Park
This popular Kona beach is also known as Magic Sands Beach or Disappearing Sands Beach. Turbulent waves occasionally pummel the sands, causing the sands to vanish. This leaves behind only the lava rocks below.
When conditions are good, this is a great beach for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. There’s a lifeguard on duty, as well as restrooms and showers and various nearby restaurants.
4. Kahalu’u Beach Park
Certainly, one of the best places to snorkel in Kona, Kahalu’u Beach Park is home to an incredible coral reef. This reef is teeming with tropical fish, and also protects the bay from the swell. These protected waters make Kahalu’u Beach Park a contender for the best beach in Kona to visit with the kids.
While snorkeling here is highly recommended, simply walking along the shallows will yield sightings of marine creatures. Be sure to visit the Kahalu’u Bay Education Center and learn about the variety of sea life here and the conservation efforts in place.
5. Spencer Beach
One of the top beaches in Kona to visit with the kids, Spencer Beach offers plenty of shade, excellent facilities, and great swimming. The bay is protected by a reef that ensures the waters here are calm. Not only is this great for swimming, but it makes for ideal snorkeling and scuba diving.
If you’re up for it, head off along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail which offers not only scenic views but a visit to various historic sites, ending at Anaehoomalu Bay.
6. Anaehoomalu Beach
Anaehoomalu Beach is the best beach in Kona for wide white sands, A-Bay, as it’s known to locals, is a great place to throw down a blanket and spread out. The waters here are usually dotted with small boats, making for a truly picturesque setting.
There’s no lifeguard on duty here, so swimmers should be careful. There is a beach hut for gear rental and booking of tours and lessons. Towards the southern end of the beach, you’ll find a restaurant.
7. Honl’s Beach
Honl’s Beach is a popular surf spot for experienced surfers. It’s not the best Kona beach for swimming – far from it. The waters here are rough and the currents can be tricky, not to mention that there’s no lifeguard here. If you’re looking for a great picnic spot or a place to catch a blazing sunset, then this is a great option.
If you’re planning a beach walk here, make sure you’ve got appropriate footwear. The sand gives way to a very rocky shoreline which can be unpleasant to walk on.
8. Makalawena Beach
This is the best beach in Kona for escaping the crowds. The reason it’s less crowded is that it’s a little tougher to reach than other beaches. You’ll need to embark on a 20-minute hike across lava rocks to reach Makalawena Beach, but it’s well worth it when you reach the beautiful sandy beach.
There’s no lifeguard on duty here, so swimmers should be cautious, but anyone wishing to do some snorkeling won’t be disappointed.
9. Ho’okena Beach Park
Ho’okena Beach Park is home to one of the last remaining traditional canoe fishing villages. Part of the charm here is watching the local fishermen head out to sea. This is a seasonal beach, offering different experiences at different times of the year.
In the summer, swimming and snorkeling are good. In the winter months, there’s more swell, making it ideal for surfers and boogie boarders. While there’s no lifeguard on duty, there are basic amenities like picnic tables and restrooms.
10. Honokohau Beach
Also known as Kona Dog Beach, this secluded spot is one of the only beaches in Kona where dogs can run about off-lead. Accessing Honokohau Beach requires navigating over lava rocks for around 65 meters, but it’s not overly challenging to do.
The beach is part of the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park which is featured in our article on the 12 Things To Do in Kona That You Won’t Want to Miss.
The clear waters here make this a great option for snorkeling and swimming; however, we recommend only advanced swimmers and snorkelers to get in the water as there’s no lifeguard on duty. A highlight here is whale watching from a catamaran.
11. Honaunau Bay
Another one of the best places to snorkel in Kona, Honaunau Bay isn’t technically much of a beach. It’s also known as Two-Step because you access the water from the lava rocks down two small steps.
Scuba diving here is also great for beginners and experts, and there’s even gear rental and lessons on offer.
This is a popular location to be able to spot the famed green sea turtles.
Read next: If you’re looking for snorkeling, don’t miss these snorkel spots on Big Island.
12. Kikaua Point Beach Park
Kikaua Point Beach Park is a favorite option for families with its soft sand, open spaces, and palms. The sheltered lagoon is ideal for the little ones to swim and snorkel and splash about. That said, there are no lifeguards here so parents will need to keep an eye out.
This is the best beach in Kona for accessibility, not just to strollers, but to wheelchairs as well. We do recommend that if you want to visit this beach, you arrive early as parking fills up fast.
13. Keiki Ponds
Another top beach in Kona for families, Keiki Ponds is technically a series of tide pools. These pools are well buffered from the sea by lava rocks creating a calm swimming experience. There are some grassy areas to sit on, as well as patches of sand.
Another name for this area is the Keiki Beach Queen’s Bath.
A real highlight is walking along the lava rocks spotting sea life in the shallows. The Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area is nearby, as are various shops and restaurants.
Map of Best Beaches in Kona
The below is a map of all 13 beaches in Kona that are highlighted in this article.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Black Sand Beach is named Punaluʻu Beach which is on the south east side of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Everyone has their own favourite but you can’t go wrong with White Sand Beach Park in Kona.
Out of all parts of Big Island, Kona will have the best beaches because of the softer sand, better weather, and this being the less rockier side of the island.
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