Does hiking to go to a beach sound like your kind of Hawaii vacation?!
But don’t worry, if hiking to go to a beach is more effort than you want to put in on a vacation, you’ll find beaches on the Big Island that you can get to with a short walk from the parking lot too.
But, in the case you want a beach hike for at least one day of your Hawaii vacation, you have a few to choose from!
Beach hikes make for some of the best hikes on the Big Island!
What’s a beach hike in Hawaii?!
For the purposes of here, it’s a beach in which hiking can be a great way to get to it!
In some cases there might be alternate ways to get to the beach.
But because of the locations of the beaches, access is more limited than simply driving your car up to a beach parking lot and then taking a few steps to get to the beach.
As a result, for all of the beaches on this list, hiking is a popular way to get there… if not the only way.
And with access more limited, it can also often mean it’s a less crowded beach too.
Best of all, all of these hikes and beaches are FREE!
First, the quick list of the best beach hikes on the Big Island.
Then, a bit more about each of these hikes and beaches!
7+ best hikes on the Big Island that lead to beaches
The order is going around the island. From the Kona coast, and onwards south, making a loop.
3. Honomalino Bay beach hike
And for another great hike on the Big Island, be sure to see the Kilauea Iki Crater Trail. This doesn’t involve a beach, but it’s in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and it means a hike into a former lava lake! Also in the national park, there’s a short petroglyphs trail.
Now more below on about the Big Island hiking trails that lead to the ocean!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
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A little bit more about some of the best beaches and best hikes on the Big Island
aka some of the best things to do on the Big Island!
Hike through lava fields to a white sand beach!
Driving from Kailua-Kona to Makalawena Beach trailhead might be around a 30 minute drive.
This is located in Kekaha Kai State Park (formerly Kona Coast State Park), just north of the Kona airport. This means it can be a perfect beach to start off your Hawaii vacation, end your Hawaii vacation at!
There’s more than one entrance at this state park, and you’ll want to take the Mahaiula entrance to get to the trail to Makalawena Beach.
You’ll first walk to Mahaiula Beach. Even to get to this beach is a short trail from the parking lot through lava fields, actually!
And then off to the right side of the beach (as you’re facing the ocean), you’ll find a trail to continue on to Makalawena Beach. It’s a hike through lava fields!
See more about this Big Island hiking trail: Makalawena Beach hike
If you’d rather not have to hike so much in order to go to a white sand beach with amazing blue water color, then there’s also Kua Bay beach, also at the same state park but different entrance.
And then you could also stay at the Mahaiula Beach that you’ll pass by to get to Makalawena Beach.
With Makalawena Beach requiring the hike, it can mean less people, though! Although driving to Makalawena Beach is also an option, if you don’t mind off-roading with a 4 wheel drive.
Near Kua Bay, you can also do a short hike up to the top of the Puu Kuili hill for amazing views of the Kona coast.
Map of Makalawena Beach hike
Explore the map.
Captain Cook Monument Trail to Kealakekua Bay
Hike to one of the best snorkeling spots!
Driving from Kailua-Kona to Captain Cook trailhead might be around a 40 minute drive.
This isn’t so much a hike to a real beach, but it is a hike to the ocean, and more importantly, a hike to one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island!
This makes it a popular snorkeling spot, and the way to get here is by boat, kayak, or foot!
So the free way to snorkel here is by hiking down to the bay!
The hike to Kealakekua Bay is on the southern side of the Kona coast.
There is a small parking area on the side of the road near the start of the trail.
See more about this Big Island hiking trail: Captain Cook hike
If you’d rather go snorkeling at a spot that doesn’t require a hike, then Two Step Beach is another one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island. Two Step is right next to a national historical park if you are looking to explore a little bit of Hawaiian culture.
Map of Kealakekua Bay hike
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Honomalino Bay beach hike
Hike through the ocean!
Driving from Kailua-Kona to Honomalino Bay trailhead might be around a 1 hour 15 minute drive.
Okay, saying that this is a hike through the ocean might be a stretch.
But it does require walking through water for a very short part! So you’ll want to be prepared. This can mean bringing along water shoes or hiking sandals so you’ll have footwear that’s okay to wear through water. You’ll be walking on rocks, so going barefoot isn’t really a good idea.
First time snorkelers said they thought the snorkeling at Honomalino Bay was great, so you might want to bring along snorkeling gear too. (Always have these everyday Hawaii essentials with you no matter what your plan for the day is!)
This hike is also on the southern side of the Kona coast.
You’ll park at Milolii Beach, and the trail to Honomalino Bay is just past the basketball court.
Map of Honomalino Bay beach hike
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Hike through lava fields to a secluded beach!
Driving from Kailua-Kona to Pohue Bay trailhead might be around a 1.5 hour drive.
This is a pretty tourist-free beach and a tourist-free hike!
There’s a good chance that you’ll see very few people if you go to this beach, if you see any people at all!
Consider going here for a quieter experience on the Big Island.
See more about this Big Island hiking trail: Pohue Bay hike
Map of Pohue Bay beach hike
Explore the map.
Hike to a green sand beach!
Driving from Kailua-Kona to green sand beach trailhead might be around a 1 hour 40 minute drive.
Okay, so the beach doesn’t really appear to be THAT green of a color from far away.
But when you get up close and personal to the sand, you can start to see the green-colored sand, aka the mineral called olivine.
There is a shuttle you can take to get to the beach, but hiking to the green sand beach is the best way to get there. That’s because the green sand beach shuttle might be illegal. (And it kind of costs a lot.)
This is in the area of the southernmost point of the Big Island, of Hawaii, and of the United States!
So it’s easy to pair this with a visit to South Point.
Many people go to the green sand beach and the black sand beach with turtles on the same day.
See more about this Big Island hiking trail: Green sand beach hike
Map of Papakolea green sand beach hike
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Hike to a black sand beach… and ON black sand!
Driving from Kailua-Kona to Kaimu beach trailhead might be around a 2 hour 15 minute drive.
Well, you’re hiking to a black sand beach that you can look at from afar.
But the coastal views are amazing here, I think!
Palm trees and lava fields all around, with ocean waves crashing against the shore.
This is a short 15-20 minute walk to the coast on a trail of black sand.
See more about this Big Island hiking trail: Kaimu beach hike
Map of Kaimu black sand beach hike
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Hike on one of the steepest roads in the United States!
Driving from Kailua-Kona to Waipio Valley trailhead might be around a 1.5 hour drive.
There are 2 main ways people get to the Waipio Valley beach – by car or by foot.
By car requires that you have a 4 wheel drive! This is a STEEP road. (Thus the need for a 4wd.)
So plenty of people walk down to this beach. You’ll be walking on a paved road, the same road that the cars take. So it’s also important to use caution!
If you’d rather not hike this one, you can get great views from the overlook without stepping foot on the steep road.
This is on the northern coast. When coming from Hilo, you can make a stop at the most popular waterfalls on the Big Island. You may also consider going for a fun lava tube cave hike before heading for the waterfalls. See more things to do near Hilo. Or you can make it into a one day of hiking to Big Island valley beaches.
See more about this Big Island hiking trail: Waipio Valley beach hike
Map of Waipio Valley beach hike
Explore the map.
As of spring 2022, Waipio Valley Road is CLOSED to non-residents due to a “geotechnical assessment.”
Waipio Valley Road is past the Waipio Valley Lookout. So you can still go see the famous Waipio Valley from above.
But if Waipio Valley Road is closed, it means that you can’t do the Waipio Valley beach hike.
Driving from Kailua-Kona to Pololu Valley trailhead might be around a 1.5 hour drive.
You can get a small glimpse of the beach from the Pololu Valley overlook, and as you’re hiking down, you’ll get to see stunning coastal views!
This is also on the northern coast, but about a 1.5 hour drive from Waipio Valley.
See more about this Big Island hiking trail: Pololu Valley beach hike
Map of Pololu Valley beach hike
Explore the map.
And there are some of the best beach hikes on the Big Island that can be convenient to add to your Big Island itinerary!
And for more hikes in Hawaii with amazing views, see the best of hiking on other Hawaiian islands:
- Great Oahu hikes with amazing views
- Great Maui hikes with amazing views
- Great Lanai hikes with amazing views
HAPPY HIKING TO BEACHES ON THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII!
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- Things to do in Haleakala National Park
- Best things to do in Oahu
- Best Oahu beaches
- Best things to do in Lanai
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Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
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