Don’t let anyone tell you The Big Island doesn’t have beaches! In fact, The Big Island has many of the state’s prettiest beaches, some of which, including Pau’oa Beach at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, have been rated among the world’s best.

The most popular beaches are along the Kohala Coast in the northwest corner of the island. If you close your eyes and imagine a tropical white sand beach fringed by swaying palm trees, it’s a safe bet that you will find that beach here. This is the best area on the island to observe migrating humpback whales and to watch for the mythical green flash at sunset.

That’s not to say there aren’t other beautiful beaches on the Big Island. Several are on the Kona Coast, in or near the town of Kailua-Kona. Kahalu’u Beach Park, between Kailua-Kona and Keauhou, is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island, and the black sand at Punalu’u Beach Park near the south end of the island is the perfect place to watch for Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.

Out of the 80 plus beaches on The Big Island we chose the ones that provide scenic beauty, easy access, and full amenities (showers, drinking water, rest rooms, picnic facilities, etc,) Get started by clicking on the area of the island you intend to call your home base.


Surf, Sand and Sun (Videos) (Map) (Current Conditions)

General Information

  1. Every beach on the Big Island is a public beach, even the ones at the posh resorts. Some hotels restrict access by charging for parking or limiting the number of parking spaces.

  1. Although there are many beaches on the Big Island, most vacationers frequent the white sand beaches on the Kona and Kohala coasts (west side of the island).

  1. if you want to spend the day at the Mauna Kea Beach, We recommend you arrive before 9 a.m.  The beach is popular with locals as well as visitors and public beach parking is extremely limited.  

  1. Petty theft is common in any resort area and The Big Island is no exception. Don’t leave anything in your car that you cannot afford to lose.

  1. Leave purses and wallets in your room or condo. Take with you to the beach only your driver’s license, a credit card (if you’ll need to pay for parking or want to rent recreational items at the beach, or stop for lunch before going home), and a small amount of cash for soft drinks or shave ice. Consider storing your money and cards in a Dry-Pak.

  1. If you must bring your cell phone, iPad or Kindle, consider buying a Dry-Bag to keep sand and water out of the electronics.

  1. Nudity is not legal on any beach in Hawaii. Go figure...


Click on the links below to see detailed information about Big Island Beaches:

Kohala Coast Beaches

Kona Coast Beaches

Windward Beaches

Beachgoer’s Checklist

Essentials to pack:

  1. beach bag

  2. Bulletlightweight day-pack

  3. Bulletsunscreen

  4. Bullethat

  5. Bulletpolarized sunglasses

  6. Bulletsand mat

  7. Bulletbeach towel

  8. Bulletumbrella

  9. Bulletchair

  10. Bulletsnacks

  11. Bulletbook, Kindle or iPad

  12. Bulletunderwater camera

  13. Bulletsnorkeling gear

  14. Bulletzip-top plastic bags

  15. Bulletplenty of drinking water

Whale Watching

Migrating humpback whales surround the island between November and April. Bring compact binoculars if you are planning to visit then. The best viewing spots are along the Kohala Coast between Kawaihae Harbor and Mahukona (video). Better yet, get as close as possible to whales and dolphins on a whale watching cruise: (November - April only).

Be Sun Safe

The tropical sun can be brutal. Even in the shade of a beach umbrella, reflected sunlight can burn unprotected skin. You wouldn’t want to spoil your vacation on the first day, so we advise that you wear waterproof sunblock (SPF 50 is appropriate for most beach activities) and reapply it at least once during your time at the beach. Be sure to sunscreen the tops of your feet and the tops of your ears.


Click here to view a map of our recommended Big Island beaches.