Kekaha Kai State park

One of the most beautiful state parks to explore on the Big Island’s west coast, Kekaha Kai State Park is a real jewel. The scenic stretch of shoreline and beaches extends about 4.5 miles extending from Mahai’ula Bay to Kua bay with three stunning beaches to explore.

Kekaha Kai in Hawaiian means “the shoreline” and the Ala Kahakai means “the shoreline trail”. With this rugged and pristine shoreline, you can visit all three beach areas by driving to two of the beaches and parking and then hiking to the third beach park.

Experience Tranquil Beauty and Pristine Beaches at Kekaha Kai State Park

How to get to Kekaha Kai State Park

How to get to Kekaha Kai State Park

To get to Kekaha Kai State Park, also known as Kona Coast State Park, you can follow these directions from Kailua-Kona or an easy drive from Kona International Airport:

Start by heading north on Highway 19 (Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway) from Kailua-Kona.

Continue on Highway 19 for approximately 20 miles until you reach the intersection with Highway 270 (Kawaihae Road).

Turn left onto Highway 270 (Kawaihae Road) and continue for about 2.5 miles.

Look for signs indicating the entrance to Kekaha Kai State Park. Turn right onto the unpaved road leading to the park’s parking area.

Follow the dirt road for about 2 miles until you reach the main parking lot for the park.

There is also a paved road to Kua Bay on the north side of Kekaha Kai State park and you can make a left turn (across from the Veterans Cemetery)

Please note that the road to Kekaha Kai State Park is unpaved, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended due to the rough terrain. It’s also important to check the park’s operating hours, as they may vary depending on the season or any closures.

Kua Bay Maniniowali 6

Mahai’ula Beach

The first beach on the southern entrance of Kekaha Kai state park is Mahai’ula Beach which you can drive directly to on a not maintained and rough road to the parking area. What you will find there is a sandy beach with good swimming and snorkeling areas. Beyond the parking area are picnic tables are available, bathroom stalls, akaline ponds and shade trees offering good shade. There are no shower facilities or water available at the beach park so bring your own supplies.

Beyond the parking area is a trail that leads to a nice sandy beach area of Mahai’ula Beach and Makalawena beach you can reach further on a lava trail.

Kua Bay at Kekaha Kai State park

Kua Bay

Located on the northern end of Kekaha Kai State park, you can drive on a well maintained road all the way to the beach area and park on the roadside. Kua Bay has full amenities including bathrooms, showers, a few picnic tables and lifeguards on duty at the beach area.

One of the most popular beaches to visit here on the Kona side, Kua Bay is easy with nice sandy beach areas and gorgeous turquoise waters to swim or snorkel in.

There is a way to get to Makalawena beach around the cinder cone right next to Kua Bay. It is about 1.8 miles and skirting oceanside on a shoreline trail to the gate area that designates Makalawena beach.

Check out our post to visiting Kua Bay here for more images and inspiration.

Kekaha Kai State park at Kua Bay

Makalawena Beach Park

Makalawena Beach Park

Makalawena Beach, located within Makalawena/Kekaha Kai State Park on the Kona Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, is a stunning and secluded beach known for its pristine beauty.

To access Makalawena Beach, visitors can take a roughly 20 to 30-minute hike from the parking area at Kekaha Kai State Park. The trail may be a bit rugged and uneven, so wearing appropriate footwear is recommended.

Hike through Lava fields to Makalawena Beach

Hike through Lava fields to Makalawena Beach

Makalawena Beach is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, fine white sand, and picturesque surroundings. It is a remote and undeveloped beach, offering a serene and tranquil setting away from the crowds. The beach is encompassed by lava rock formations and framed by lush vegetation, providing a scenic backdrop.

Check out our post on visiting Makalawena Beach Park here for more images and information.

Tips to visiting Kekaha Kai State Park

Tips to visiting Kekaha Kai State Park

Plan Ahead: Before heading to the park, check the park’s operating hours, as they may vary throughout the year. It’s also a good idea to check for any closures, weather conditions, or special regulations that may be in place.

Bring Supplies: Be sure to bring sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water, as there is limited shade and it can get hot at the park. Pack snacks or a picnic lunch, as there are no food vendors within the park. Additionally, bring insect repellent and a first aid kit.

Wear Proper Footwear: The park has rocky terrain, so it’s recommended to wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Flip-flops or sandals may not provide enough protection and could be uncomfortable.

Pack Beach Essentials: Kekaha Kai State Park offers beautiful beaches. Don’t forget to bring beach towels, swimwear, snorkeling gear, and beach toys if desired. Remember to swim only in designated areas and be cautious of ocean conditions.

Respect the Environment: Kekaha Kai State Park is home to diverse ecosystems and delicate marine life. Help preserve the park’s natural beauty by staying on designated trails, refraining from littering, and not disturbing the wildlife or coral reefs while snorkeling.

Be Prepared for Limited Facilities: The park has minimal facilities, so it’s advisable to use restrooms and other facilities before entering the park. There are portable toilets available, but they might not be as well-maintained as traditional facilities.

Stay Safe: Pay attention to safety signs and warnings in the park. Keep a close eye on children, especially near the ocean. Be cautious of strong currents, waves, and slippery rocks.

Practice Leave No Trace: Make sure to pack out all trash and leave the park as pristine as you found it. Respect the environment and fellow visitors by keeping noise levels down and avoiding any disruptive activities.

Remember, Kekaha Kai State Park is a protected area, and by being a responsible visitor, you can help preserve its natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.

Details to visiting Kekaha Kai State Park

Details to visiting Kekaha Kai State Park

You can drive directly to the two beach parks at Kua Bay and Mahai’ula Bay straight to the parking lot area.

Kekaha Kai State Park is open 8am – 6:45pm every day.

Check out the official Kekaha Kai website here for more information to visiting.

Other places to visit around Kekaha Kai State Park

The beautiful Hapuna beach on the Kohala coast

Visiting Spencer Beach Park

Free of cheap things to do on the Big Island
Anaeho’o-malu Bay

Best beaches to visit in Hawaii

A family friendly visit to the Big Island

Best beaches in Kona

Conclusion to visiting Kekaha Kai State Park

Conclusion to visiting Kekaha Kai State Park

A visit to Kekaha Kai State Park is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of Hawaii’s natural wonders. From pristine sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters to lush coastal landscapes and rich marine life, the park offers a diverse range of experiences for nature enthusiasts.

Whether you choose to relax on the secluded beaches, hike along scenic trails, or engage in water activities like snorkeling and swimming, Kekaha Kai State Park promises moments of tranquility and adventure. Be sure to respect the park’s fragile ecosystems and adhere to conservation guidelines to preserve this remarkable place for future generations.

With its breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife, and a sense of serenity that permeates the air, Kekaha Kai State Park invites visitors to reconnect with nature and create cherished memories. So, pack your sunscreen, embrace the spirit of exploration, and let the beauty of Kekaha Kai State Park leave an indelible mark on your heart.

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.