Kohala Coast Best Beaches
The Kohala Coast is home to some of the most expensive resorts in Hawaii and has some of the best beaches. One of the best beaches on the Kohala Coast is Hapuna Beach, State Park.
Overview of Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach, located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawai'i, is the most popular beach. It is known for its white sand, clear waters, and excellent swimming conditions. Hapuna Beach has been ranked as one of the best beaches in America by The Travel Channel and Conde Nast Traveler magazine, which have all ranked Hapuna Beach as the best beach in America at some point. Hapuna Beach may be the most famous stretch of sand on the Kohala Coast — for a good reason. The beach is so wildly popular that tour buses often bring visitors here.
If you're a bodyboarder who knows what you're doing, you can catch great waves at Hapuna Beach. The white-sand crescent is one of Hawaii's longest and most expansive beaches, offering plenty of room for sunbathers, swimmers, snorkelers, picnickers, and even impromptu volleyball games. This makes it a great spot to spend an entire day or build sandcastles while waiting for your turn at one of the tidepools at low tide. Big surf rolls in from November to March (though the best time for experienced surfers is December through February). Hapuna's shore break can produce gnarly waves with solid currents during this time.
During the summer months (roughly May through October), Hapuna is calm enough for swimming and snorkeling. Swimming conditions are safest along the beach's southern end, a gradual grade into the water.
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2023 Big Island Visitor Guides
If you're visiting the Big Island of Hawaii soon, be sure to download your copy of one of our updated 2023 Big Island Visitor Guides. We've updated both travel guides with a lot of new great information for potential visitors (and those who've been a time or two as well).
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As of this writing, non-resident visitor fees are now in effect to visit Hapuna Beach State Park. This includes a $10 per vehicle parking fee and a $5 per person visitor fee.
Getting There- Hapuna Beach
To get there, take Highway 19 north from Kona. Turn left at the access road just before Mile Marker #69. Go to the end of the road, turn left, and take an immediate right. Follow this road to the parking.
Amenities at Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach Park amenities include restrooms, showers, lifeguards, picnic tables, and pavilions. There are no food concessions at Hapuna Beach Park, but there is the adjacent Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, where you can purchase a snack or drink. There is also a large grassy area where you can play frisbee or football after your swim.
Essential Tips for a Great Visit to Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach is packed on the weekends, and parking can be an issue. As is the case with most beach parks on the island, the gate at Hapuna opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Consequently, the golden sand heats to an unbearable temperature on a sunny day. The sand reaches 200 ft. wide during the summer, so unless you want fried toes, wear sandals or water shoes. Pavilions with tables provide shade for those wishing to escape the heat.
Fun-Packed Experience at Hapuna Beach
Family Activities to Do at Hapuna Beach
The calm waters at Hapuna are usually only about waist-deep for a long way out — perfect for families with small children. It's also a great place to try boogie boarding or bodysurfing since waves aren't generally too large or strong. There is also a large grassy area where visitors can sit in the shade or sunbathe.
Fun Activities to Do at Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach is the perfect destination for any Hawaiian vacation, and it offers many activities to keep you entertained. You can swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear water, bask in the sun on the gorgeous white sand, or enjoy one of these fun Hapuna Beach activities!
Swimming: Take a relaxing swim in its crystal clear waters. Thanks to its sandy bottom and shallow shoreline, the swimming conditions are typically ideal at Hapuna Beach.
Snorkeling: The crystal clear water at Hapuna Beach makes snorkeling an unforgettable experience for visitors. If you want to see something spectacular, find someone with an underwater camera who will be happy to snap professional photos of you and your family while you explore the water below.
Kayaking: Kayaking is a great way to explore Hapuna Beach's spectacular coastline, and renting a kayak is straightforward. Once you have your kayak, paddle out into the water, following the coast of Hapuna Beach. You'll get an intimate view of some spectacular Hawaiian sea life and a fantastic view of this beautiful beach from the ocean!
Hiking: Hapuna Beach is also a great place to start a day or multi-day hike along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, which runs along much of the island’s western shore. The Ala Kahakai Trail is a 175-mile (282 km) long trail that follows the coast of the Big Island and connects archaeological and cultural sites. The path has many access points, including one at Hapuna Beach.
Nearby Attractions and Sights of Hapuna Beach
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site: Kamehameha I led the efforts to build this 18th-century heiau (temple) to prove his worthiness to rule the Hawaiian Islands — which he did with much success following its completion in 1791. The site is located on the north end of Kawaihae Road in Kawaihae, about 10 miles from Hapuna Beach.
Ahuena Heiau: This small sacred site sits in front of Kailua-Kona's King Kamehameha Hotel and features a small statue of King Kamehameha I himself. Built in 1812, it was once used as a site for human sacrifices but now serves as a culturally significant tourist attraction (and one of the best free things to do in Kailua-Kona).
Kohala Coast Accommodations
The Big Island's lovely Kohala region has a wide variety of hotels for every type of traveler and every budget. Here are some of our picks for the best places to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii's Kohala Coast.