Hawaii, the Big Island, Mauna Kea Beach
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Mauna Kea Beach

Top choice in South Kohala

Crescent-shaped Kaunaʻoa Bay (nicknamed 'Mauna Kea Beach' after Rockefeller built his landmark hotel on it) is blanketed in powdery white sand, with clear waters that are calm and shallow (generally less than 10ft). Snorkeling is best at the north end along the rocky ledge. This wonderfully uncrowded beach is open to the public through 40 parking spaces set aside daily for nonguests. Arrive by 9am and stop at the entry gate for a parking pass and directions.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby South Kohala attractions

1. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

0.78 MILES

Hapuna Beach is world famous for its magnificent half-mile sweep of white powder sand and fabulously clear waters. In summer, waves are calm and allow…

2. Mauʻumae Beach

0.88 MILES

What’s not to love about Mauʻumae (pronounced Mao-oo-my)? It has white sand, teal water, shady trees and protected waters – and is even more private than…

3. Spencer Beach Park

1.44 MILES

Shallow, sandy and gentle, this beach lacks the dramatic sweep of Mauna Kea or Hapuna, but it's ideal for kids and popular with local families. Come to…

4. Beach 69

1.57 MILES

This lovely powdering of white sand is a local favorite but remains somewhat off the tourist radar. Both family-friendly and gay-friendly, its calm,…

6. Pua Ka ʻIlima ʻO Kawaihae


This park, which seems to be in a perpetual state of work-in-progress, encompasses 1.4 acres of beach by the Kawaihae breakwater and is the most…

7. Hokuloa United Church

2.26 MILES

Heading toward Puako ‘town’ you’ll pass the Hokuloa United Church on your right. This may be the cutest little white seaside church on the Big Island…

8. Kawaihae Harbor

2.54 MILES

This sunny harbor is a good spot for a picnic or a place to just chill and watch the boats roll in. Beware of flies that swarm by the rubbish bins.