The beautiful beach of Makalawena stretches over 5 cove/inlets and covers an area of about a half a mile to a mile of shoreline. Makalawena is a remote beach, with few crowds – and known as one of the prettiest beaches on the Island. Prepare yourself for a 20-30 minute hike just to get to this beach. The trail starts at the Kona Coast State Park parking area (see below) also called Kekaha Kai State Park, off Route 19, the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. The beach itself lies between mile markers 89 and 90.
The trip is well-worth it, however. The rough road leads you to the parking area for Kekaha Kai State Park (closed on Wednesdays). Hike initially towards Mahaiula Beach, but then continue on the trail – hike across the dried lava bed for about 15-20 minutes and you will find Makalawena. The trail leads you to the teal blue lagoons surrounded by the three crescent-shaped near-perfect white sand beaches. Beyond the shore are white sand dunes and plenty of shady trees to keep the sun off of you. A little farther inland, just on the other side of the shade trees is a freshwater pool where you can bathe and wash off the salt and sea before hiking back to your parked car.
The water here shimmers in many different shades of blue from the light electric blue near shore to the dark blue waters over the coral reef shelf just off-shore. Staring at the azure waters and waves lapping up on the powder-white sand is absolutely mesmerizing! A few yards off shore from the center beach crescent is large shallow-water coral reef that can provide great snorkeling. You will need to swim out past the lighter-colored water (sandy bottom) – look for the dark colored water (coral reef below) and snorkel to the north. You will likely see a thriving multi-colored reef with sea arches and caves and you may even see the Hawaiian green sea turtle
Image Courtesy of Google Earth
What sets Makalawena apart from many other popular beaches? It’s austere beauty. You won’t find any towering hotels or condos in sight – in fact you won’t find a shred of civilization near this gem! Relish in true Hawaiian beauty – no sounds but the waves lapping up onto the shore. If you like Makalawena, make sure you also check out Kua Bay - another white sand beach with raw beauty.
Get out and enjoy the beautiful sunny Kohala coast! The Big Island has many great tour providers that can show you the best kayaking and snorkeling spots near Makalawena Beach and throughout Kona.Because of the remoteness of this beach, you will rarely find any crowds here!
The only footprints in the sand will probably be your own. The few people that venture to this hidden beach think it is one of the prettiest on the island. In the late afternoon, as the sun moves low on the horizon, the sunset’s colors are painted on the white sand beach. Check out our video of Makalawena below.
Most visitors will have to hike across the dried lava beds to reach this gem of a beach. However, some can venture via chartered zodiac boat tour. We chose a unique way to arrive at Makalawena – we kayaked from nearby Kua Bay.
Take a Virtual Tour of a Hawaiian Coral Reef
Sea Quest Ocean Rafting Adventure
Sea Quest Ocean Rafting AdventureJoin Sea Quest for a rafting adventure along the Kona Coast! Explore lava tubes and sea caves, and enjoy snorkeling at the Place of Refuge and Captain Cooks Landing! After snorkeling, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking cruise along the Kona Coast taking in the spectacular coastline and exploring ancient lava tubes and sea caves.
Fair Wind Kealakekua Bay Snorkel
Captain Cook Snorkel Slide down the Fair Wind II’s water slide into the pristine waters of Kealakekua Bay, a marine sanctuary, and enjoy snorkeling or diving with 80-100 feet visibility! Everything you’ll need for snorkeling is provided – masks, snorkels, fins, etc.