The Big Island isn't necessarily known for its beaches the way Maui is, but what the Big Island beaches lack in accessibility and prevalence they make up for in uniqueness and beauty.
Here are some of our favorites near Kona from our recent Big Island trip!
Magic Sands Beach - This beach is pretty but on the smaller side and waves were really big when we were there. Maybe it's usually calmer? Nice place to get in the water close to Kona, but probably not an all day beach!
Mauna Kea Beach - This beach is beautiful! It's a hotel beach, so they only give out a certain number of parking passes for non-guests. We tried to go three times and got in once. We didn’t get in at 1:00 on a Friday or 8:10 on a Monday, but we DID get in at 7:10 on a Wednesday. It seemed like the lot was full by 8:00, but since we got there close to 7 we were able to grab a great spot under the shade of a big tree. The amenities are nice to have - there’s a bar and a restaurant right on the beach (definitely resort prices!), and there are a couple bathrooms along the beach. You can also rent SUP boards, boogie boards, and snorkeling gear. Maybe it was just a calm day when we were there, but the waves were perfectly sized for body/boogie boarding, but not so big that kids couldn’t enjoy them. While it’s a little annoying to get there so early, it was definitely worth it and we wished we’d gone more!
Hapuna Beach - Awesome beach! It’s really big, so even when it’s crowded it’s still very enjoyable. Not much shade though, so bring an umbrella. Parking is always available, but it's $5 for non-Hawaiian residents. They have lots of bathrooms and showers and a little place to buy smoothies and I think sandwiches. Pro tip - I think if Mauna Kea is full it's possible to walk a path from Hapuna to Mauna Kea, but it's a bit of a walk (pretty though!).
Manini’owali Beach - This beach is pretty easy to access from the main road - down a paved side road to a parking lot and bathrooms right on the beach. The beach itself is smallish, and it was pretty full when we got there in the afternoon, so it was a little hard to find a spot. Note that there isn’t much shade, and a lot of the beach is rocky which makes securing an umbrella tough. Maybe it was unique to the day we were there, but the waves were huge, and since they were crashing close to the beach it was really too rough for little kiddos. Beautiful and interesting beach to see though, especially if it wasn’t crowded!
Kehaka Kai Beach - Gorgeous and unique beach!! Lots of lava flows and tidal pools to explore, and it’s a big beach (we only explored the Mahai’ula area and didn’t get over to Makalawena, and it was still huge!). Waves were great for swimming, though maybe we were just there on a calm day. There’s lots of shade so we didn’t need our umbrella, and the beach was almost empty. The only downside is that the road to the beach from the main road is unpaved and extremely bumpy. We had a little Nissan Versa rental car, and it took us about a half hour to drive the mile and a half since we were scared of blowing a tire. Despite that though it’s definitely worth the visit!