The hidden gem of Makalawena Beach is the place you want to go if you’re looking for a remote, pristine beach. You won’t find any crowds on this off the beaten path white sand treasure; this is mostly due to the 30–40 minute hike to get there. Easily one of the best beaches in Hawai’i Big Island, Makalawena Beach, Hawai’i offers serenity, tranquil waters and tide pools.
Makalawena is part of Kekaha Kai State Park, which encompasses 4.5 coastal miles. The wetland area behind Makalawena, known as ʻŌpaeʻula Pond, was the site of a small fishing village that was wiped out in the 1946 tsunami. In 1972, the area was designated as a National Natural Landmark. The 12-acre wetland is one of the last remaining nesting grounds for several species of endangered Hawaiian water birds.
Makalawena Beach, Hawai’i Facilities
There are no facilities, restrooms or rubbish cans at Makalawena. There is little shade, so pack accordingly.
Makalawena Beach Swimming Conditions
Makalawena’s clear, calm waters make for great swimming. A small shore break can kick up with the afternoon winds, so that’s the time to get out the boogie board. As with all the best beaches on the Big Island, check the current conditions and pay heed to all posted signs regarding ocean conditions and safety.
How to Get There
From Kona, take Highway 19 north. Turn left at the sign for Kekaha Kai State Park between mile markers 90 and 91. Go down the unpaved road to the end. Park where you see the cars. Walk north on the path, through the gate, and towards the trees. The path goes past the north end of Kekaha Kai Beach then continues for another 20 minutes over a lava field. Once you reach the sand dunes, turn right and head towards the ocean.