Pau`oa Beach

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Pau`oa Beach is located at the  Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani resort. It is really two crescent shaped white-sand beaches and both are tiny compared to other Kohala Coast beaches. Both lagoons are protected by barrier reefs and the calm, shallow waters attract families with small children.


Although all beaches in Hawaii are public beaches, some resorts attempt to restrict access by charging a steep parking fee. At this writing, hotel parking is available for $17.00 per day. Because Pau`oa is a public beach, it makes sense that the hotel is obligated to provide free shoreline access parking.  I have been told that if one takes one’s parking ticket to the front desk, cites one’s right to shoreline access, and asks for free validation it may be granted. I have not personally checked this out, but it is worth a try.


Free parking is available at public beach north of the hotel, however its spaces fill up early and it is a hot hike from there to Pau`oa beach. If you decide to use the hotel’s pay lot, park at the extreme south end of the lot and look for the walkway that parallels the hotel building and leads directly to the beach.


A grassy area and a rental shop are located at the entrance to the beach area. Restrooms and showers are nearby and serviced by the hotel (that means they are clean and in good repair). Although chaises surround the beach, they are for the use of hotel guests. Very little shade surrounds the beaches, so bring an umbrella and lots of sunscreen.


Beach entry is a gradual sandy slope.Turtles abound in the small bay (photo) and graze on algae that covers the lava mounds that protect the outer edge of the bay (one actually crashed into me while I was lolling in the shallows.) Snorkeling is easy within the bay, but the waters beyond the rocks can be rough at times. There is also good snorkeling at the small lagoon to the south, but it is less protected. This is not a good location for boogie boarding or body surfing.


Resort amenities abound at this beach. A less costly alternative is to stock up on food and beverages at the Foodland in The Shops at Mauna Lani, located near the traffic circle as you enter the resort area. The nearest shave ice is at food court in the Queens’ Marketplace Shopping Center in the Waikoloa Beach Resort area.






 

Specific Information

Aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps.

Kohala Coast Beaches

  1. Anaeho`omalu Beach

  2. Mauna Lani Beach

  3. Pau`oa Beach

  4. Holoholokai Beach

  5. Wailea Beach

  6. Hapuna Beach

  7. Mauna Kea Beach

  8. Spencer Beach Park

Kona Coast Beaches

Windward Beaches


Beachgoer’s Checklist

Essentials to pack:


  1. Bulletbeach bag

  2. lightweight day-pack

  3. sunscreen

  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


  1. Whale Watching

  2. Bring compact binoculars if you are on the beach between November and April. Besides ogling other beachgoers, you can use them to spot breaching humpback whales on the horizon.


  1. Be Sun Safe

  2. 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 sunscreen (factor 45 or 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.
 

Getting There


From Kailua-Kona: Take Highway 19, the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway, north from Kona. Look for a grove of coconut trees on the left just past the turnoff to Waikoloa Village. Turn left  onto Mauna Lani Drive and proceed for about a mile to a traffic circle (round-about). Enter the circle and take the first right turn, which is North Kaniku Drive. Continue on Kaniku Drive until you reach the entrance to the Fairmont Orchid. Pay parking is to the left, free parking is down a short road to the right.  It is about a 45 minute drive from Kailua Kona.


From the Waikoloa Resorts: Exit the resort area and turn left onto the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway (Highway 19). Proceed north past the intersection with Waikoloa Road. Turn left  onto Mauna Lani Drive and proceed for about a mile to a traffic circle (round-about). Enter the circle and take the first right turn, which is North Kaniku Drive. Continue on Kaniku Drive until you reach the entrance to the Fairmont Orchid. Pay parking is to the left, free parking is down a short road to the right.  It is about a15 minute drive from the Waikoloa Beach Resorts.


From Waimea: Take the Kawaihae Road west from Waimea to the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway. Turn south (towards Kailua-Kona) onto the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway at the marked intersection. Continue south until you reach a grove of coconut trees on the right. Turn right  onto Mauna Lani Drive and proceed for about a mile to a traffic circle. Enter the circle and take the first right turn, which is North Kaniku Drive. Continue on Kaniku Drive until you reach the entrance to the Fairmont Orchid. Pay parking is to the left, free parking is down a short road to the right.  It is about a 35 minute drive from Waimea.


From Hilo: Drive north from Hilo on the Mamalahoa Highway to Waimea. In Waimea, turn right at the stop light, then veer left onto the Kawaihae Road. Take the Kawaihae Road west from Waimea to the Queen Kahahumanu Highway. Turn south (towards Kailua-Kona) onto the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway at the marked intersection. Turn right  onto Mauna Lani Drive and proceed for about a mile to a traffic circle. Enter the circle and take the first right turn, which is North Kaniku Drive. Continue on Kaniku Drive until you reach the entrance to the Fairmont Orchid. Pay parking is to the left, free parking is down a short road to the right.  It is about a 2 hour drive from Hilo.


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