Hapuna and Mauna Kea Beaches

Hapuna Beach on Hawaii

Hawaii Island has the most beautiful white sand beaches in all of Hawaii. These perfect sugar white beaches are located along the west coast of Hawaii Island from the Kona airport to North Kohala off Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway (Hwy 19). Visiting these beaches may redefine your view of the perfect tropical beach.

The beaches are uncrowded and pristine with shallow aquamarine ocean waters and cool breezes. Some beaches are easy to get to and others are only accessible through remote dirt roads. The waters can be calm or have crashing waves that can crush you against the sand. Here are two of our favorite beaches.

Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach State park is a cresent shaped white sand beach that is a half a mile long and about 200 feet wide. It is one of the most accessible beaches along the Kohala coast so it is more crowded than other beaches, particularly on weekends and holidays.

Sunners on the beach in Hawaii

There is a large parking area above the beach which is often crammed with cars. The best plan is to unload people and beach stuff at the loading zone and then go find a parking spot. There are usually spaces far up above the beach, too far to carry coolers.

Facilities include restrooms, showers, covered picnic tables, food vendors and rentals. A path leads from the parking lot to the beach which makes access very easy.

Path down from parking lot to beach

Path to Hapuna Beach

Bushes line the beach as a wind break. The beach has clear water and wonderful scenary. Snorkeling is best on the south end of the beach where there is a coral reef. There is no cover on the beach, so bring an umbrella, hats, and cover yourself with sun screen frequently.

Hapuna Beach Big Island Hawaii

Hapuna Beach Big Island of Hawaii

And looking to the right, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is at the north end of Hapuna Beach. This resort hotel has 350 rooms, 2 golf course, a spa and pool, and health club.

Hotel on Hapuna Beach

Warning signs are posted in case of dangerous surf. Lifeguards are sometimes on duty.

Warning signs at Hapuna beach


During the winter, the waves can be very dangerous. Hapuna is known for surfing and boogie-boarding injuries and drownings from the powerful waves crashing on the beach shelf.

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Mauna Kea Beach

Kauna'oa or Mauna Kea Beach beach is a mile south of Hapuna Beach at the 68 mile marker. The sand beach is in the shape of a crescent and over 1/4 mile long. Snorkeling and boogie boarding are excellent and the sand is perfectly pristine.

MaunaKea beach Hawaii

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, that sits above the beach, was built by a Rockerfeller in 1965. The resort has 310 rooms, pool, health club, tennis courts, golf courses, restaurants, and on-site luau.

MaunaKea Beach Hawaii

The movie below is of Mauna Kea Beach from the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

Parking is only accessible via the MaunaKea Beach Hotel gate. You must stop at the gate and tell them you wish to go to the beach. If one of the limited parking spots are available, they will give you a permit to park there for there for the day. Arriving there early in the morning makes it more likely that you will find a parking spot and stake out your perfect spot on the white sand. The benefit of the limited parking is that the beach is usually empty.

Facilities are limited to restrooms and showers. A fairly long and steep road leads from the parking lot to the beach.

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Directions to Hapuna and MaunaKea Beaches:
Hapuna Beach State park is located on Highway 19 at the 69 mile marker , just south of Kawaihae harbor, about 30 miles north of Kona.

Mauna Kea Beach is just south of Hapuna beach on Highway 19 at the 68 mile marker.

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