Kua Bay in the Big Island: A scenic drive to Manini’owali Beach north of Kona

The official name for this gorgeous stretch of sand at Kehaka Kai State park is Manini’owali beach but more casually Kua Bay local favorite beach everyone loves. With easy access to drive down paved roads, Kua Bay is a short drive from the Kona Airport and downtown Kailua Kona area. What makes Kua Bay so special is the gorgeous white sandy beach and beautiful aquamarine ocean that is ringed with black lava rock edges that make it perfect for swimming, surfing and snorkeling if the waves are calmer in the early morning. There are also full public amenities and lifeguards which makes beach one of the most attractive beach areas to spend a day on the beach on the west side of the Big Island.

Kua Bay in the Big Island: A scenic drive to Manini’owali Beach

Kua Bay Maniniowali 1

Spending A fun beach day at Kua Bay aka Manini’owali Beach, Big Island

Once you drive down the scenic overlook you’ll notice immediately that Kua Bay is a striking beach surrounded with jagged black lava rock cliffs. When you climb down the 10 feet of lava rock areas into the soft sandy white beaches and aqua to deep blue ocean, it’s almost irresistible not to drop all your stuff and jump into the warm waters immediately.

Kehaka Kai State Park

As part of a chain of beaches that are part of the Kehaka Kai State Beach, Kua bay is breath taking and worth spending as much time as you can on the beach. Kua Bay/ Manini’owali beach is part of the string of beaches at Kahaka Kai State park which includes Makalawena beach and Mahaiʻula Bay. Called by locals as Pua Bay, this is the go do destination with easy access to the beach and full facilities on location.

Best time to visit Kua Bay

Kua Bay is very popular and crowded on weekends with families and visitors to the area so coming during the week days is better with less crowds. Come early in the morning to secure a parking spot or later in the afternoon when everyone is leaving and parking is easier. Sunsets are a great time to experience the beach areas but the upper gate does close around 7pm so make sure you are aware of the time so you are not stuck inside the beach area.

kua bay manini'owalli beach

Directions on how to get to Kua Bay

With less than a 15-minute drive from Kona airport, you can get to this stunning beach or make this your last beach time before leaving the island quickly and have a fantastic time. From Highway 19, make a right at the Manini’owali entrance / Kehaka Kai State Beach (located on the left side from the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. Drive slowly past the roadway with very high speed bumps down the hill to the parking lot area and park off street if the small parking area is filled up.

9 reasons to visit Kua Bay now

9 reasons to visit Kua Bay now

  1. The drive to reach Kua Bay with the dramatic coastline views and gorgeous aqua to blue ocean waters is really breathtaking. Stop along the top area to just enjoy and take a few shots and you’ll love the views from above
  2. As part of the Kehaka Kai state park it is well maintained with lifeguards on the beach
  3. The beach has fantastic facilities to include shower areas, restroom facilities, parking area and picnic areas with nice views of the beach areas
  4. A gorgeous white sandy beach that is broken up into three smaller sections
  5. Snorkeling is good along both rocky ends with the lava outcrops
  6. Surfing and boogie boarding is popular at the beach with nice sandy bottoms
  7. There are easy trails to take around the cliff areas with fantastic views back to the beach and coastal areas
  8. There is a nice trail hike leading from the cinder cone at Pu’u Kuili to the next beach down from Kua Bay at Makalawena beach or some other short beach trails along the lava cliffs on the north end of the beach.
  9. Marine life is always a good possibility with dolphins, sea turtles and even breaching whales in the winter time.

Amenities at Kua Bay

Kau Bay has full service amenities to include:

Small parking area or off street parking

Lifeguard station

Restroom and showering areas

picnic tables

More details to visiting Kua Bay

More details to visiting Kua Bay

For mor information on visiting with any beach updates or warnings, check out the official park website here.

The beach is very popular and busy on the weekends so aim to visit during the week days for less crowds and more space to find a good spot.

The beach area is exposed with no shady areas so bring your own cover from the intense sun at the beach.

Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, the beach areas are hot with the lava and beach reflecting a lot of sun rays and heat on the beach.

Winter months bring stronger waves and winds to the beach with strong waves and currents, summer months are calmer at Kua Bay.

For calmer waters visit in the morning before the winds typically pick up in the afternoon time frame

Sunsets at Kua Bay are spectacular and parking is fairly easy in the late afternoon to evening time frame, so spend some time in the late afternoon and you’ll enjoy sunsets at Kua Bay.

Sunsets at Kua Bay are spectacular

More reading of places to visit on the west side

An almost perfect beach at Makalawena beach

The beautiful Hapuna beach on the Kohala coast

Top things to do in Kona, Big Island

A snorkeling and cruise experience in Kona

Enjoy a beach day on a white sandy beach at Magic Sands Beach

Explore the farmers markets around Kona area now.

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Enjoy this post - Pin it for later Kua Bay

Have you been to Kua Bay?

Please share your thoughts and other recommendations in the comments below with your recommendations.

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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.