Whittington Beach Park

Beach in Naʻalehu

North of Naʻalehu, this small park has tide pools, an ancient Hawaiian fishpond frequented by birds, and the photographic ruins of a historic pier. There's no beach despite the name, and swimming is limited to the estuaries, but hawksbill sea turtles frequent. Facilities include restrooms, outdoor showers and picnic pavilions, but no drinking water. Camping by advance county permit only.

The old wharf was built in 1883 and was used for transporting sugar, cattle and goat hides to waiting offshore ships until the 1940s, when improved roads made trucking to Hilo more economically viable. It was destroyed by a tsunami in 1946.

In 1997, it looked like the pier might have a new purpose as the on-shore terminus for a fiber-optic cable connected to HUGO, the Hawaii Undersea Geo-observatory. The high-tech research apparatus was designed to monitor Loʻihi Seamount, Hawaii's active underwater volcano. However, a short in the 30-mile $600,000 cable donated by AT&T shut down the project in 1998.

For more privacy take Hwy 11 another 100ft east of the park entrance to a two-track road leading to an empty stretch of crashing waves and tide pools along Halekini Cove. Avoid the sand if you don't have 4WD.