The best beach at Richardson Ocean Park in Hilo: beach, water fun and adventure in Hawaii (updated 2023)
Richardson Ocean Park is one of the fabulous string of beaches located in south Hilo and enjoying a beach day here is truly one of the simple pleasures to enjoy while on the island.
One of the most popular weekend hangout spots, Richardson Ocean Park for locals who knickname it “Richardson’s”, the park is family friendly with full facilities and lifeguard station in the beach areas. The beach is also a popular place for snorkeling, surfing and spotting marine life like green honu (native sea turtles) resting or eating along the rock areas of the beach.
Where is Richardson’s located?
Richardson’s is the last of a string of beaches in Hilo along Kalaniana’ole and one of the most popular because of the varied beach, snorkeling, surfing and picnic potluck gatherings the place is known for. It is the last parking lot area off the main road going towards the end of Hilo’s beach area. Locals call the park, Richardsons in short to identify the surrounding areas and lava rock ocean front.
Weekends here are packed so if you need more space and quiet time, visit during the weekend day at Richardson’s. The park contains several ponds that are part of a marine conservation area and are typically office limits to visitors to enter or collect things.
Interesting history of Richardson Ocean Park
The home still standing at Richardson’s Ocean Park used to be the personal home of Elsa and George Richardson who was the chief detective of the County of Hawaii. The property was gift to the Richardson’s from the Malo family that owed them a debt for saving the family from typhoid fever. The property was later gifted to the county and operating the Richardson Ocean Center today along with the beach area access.
Along this unique green and black sand beach you’ll find some fantastic marine life sheltering here including honu turtles, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal as well as migratory whales just outside the breakers areas of the beach.
Here’s a brief tour of the park area and other cool things to see here at Richardson’s Beach
Easy directions on how to get to Richardson Ocean Park
From downtown Hilo, drive down Kalaniana’ole Avenue and past the series of local beaches in the area including Carlsmith Beach Park, Onekahakaha Beach Park, and some of the smaller beach parks and lagoon areas of the south end of Hilo. Richardson is the last beach park with parking or also on street parking.
Address of the beach: 2355 Kalanianaole Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
Where to park at Richardson’s beach
With a relatively small parking lot that fills up early on the weekends, most people park on the main feeder road or on the side streets if it is very busy. Weekends are crowded and traffic and parking in the area is difficult because everyone wants to be at the beach. There is on street parking and some visitors park in the adjoining side streets in the neighborhood when it is extremely busy.
Best time to actually visit the beach park with less parking hassle would be to visit on the week days early in the morning. Overall the morning or late afternoon timeframe at the beach area have less crowds hanging out at Richardson’s and other coastal areas of the beach park.
Things to do and see at Richardson Ocean Park
Richardson’s is more than just a beach park, there are cool tidepools and lagoons to explore, marine life to check out, snorkeling around the cove area and even adventure sports you can do here.
There are rock areas and beach areas to explore along with small lagoons that have tropical fish and marine life that is cool to see along with sea turtles that regularly feed and rest in the area.
The bay area of Richardson’s is very popular for recreation to include kayaking, surfing, snorkeling and fishing in the areas that are not marine conservation areas.
The sands at Richardson’s an interesting mix of Green Olivine sand crystals and black lava sand which is unusual for this side of the island.
The snorkeling around the rocky outcrops in the shallow water areas of the beach are filled with tropical fish and coral and fun to explore.
There are picnic tables and grill stations located around the park for use.
You can walk through to the barrier rocks on the perimeter with a shallow lagoon that you can cross, this is typically a place you’ll find some green sea turtles along with tropical fish.
When it is whale season in winter time, you can spot whales just offshore the rocky barrier areas.
Here’s a view under the water of the coral, tropical fish and marine life at Richardson’s
Tips and facilities at Richardson Ocean Park
Weekends are the busy period for locals and families to hang out at Richardson’s or any of the Hilo Beaches, you should just visit during the weekdays if possible.
Parking is limited so go early in the morning or later afternoon time frame or look for street parking on the main drag.
There are picnic tables and barbeque grills so a picnic is always great here especially with all the fantastic views.
Restroom facilities and showers available.
Bring your snorkel gear or other outdoor toys here to play in the semi protected areas of the beach park.
There are lots of tropical fish to discover so please use reef protected sun screen when you go swimming or snorkeling in the waters.
Check with the lifeguard on duty if you notice anything strange or change of flags or the weather conditions on the beach area.
High tide conditions have more surf, rip tides and currents so be aware of conditions before you enter the water.
If you use Sunscreen in the water, make sure that you use only coral safe sunscreen to protect the local marine life in the water area.
Many of the rock areas and small lagoon areas have interesting tropical fish and coral and also green sea turtles that you can find. Do stay at a distance of approximately 20 feet from any sea turtle in the water or on the beach areas.
Check in with the lifeguard station to see if there are any problems with beach conditions when you visit and before you enter water.
Snorkeling is pretty amazing around Richardson’s, check out the highlights below
Must bring packing and essentials for the beach
You can’t go to the beach without some of these essentials to enjoying your beach time.
Cell phone water proof case – if you want to take some underwater pictures, get one of these easy and cheap water proof cases.
Cooler backpack – the perfect picnic and drinks carrier to the beach or any outdoor fun on the islands.
UFT 50 sun hat for men’s or women’s sizes – essential head protection wear at the beach and a sport look
Check out these other Hilo area posts and attractions
Explore one of the most scenic waterfalls in town at Rainbow Falls
Enjoy some fun at Coconut Island in Hilo Bay
Experience the aquamarine pools and lagoons at Carlsmith Beach Park
Go kayaking, Sup or water fun on family friendly Reeds Bay Beach Park
Enjoy some cool and fun Things to do around Hilo town
Check out the impressive Waterfalls of the Big Island
Explore the cool caves above Hilo at Kaumana Caves State Park
Visit Lili’uokalani Garden in Hilo – a beautiful Japanese garden that is ocean front on the Hilo Bay.
Why Visit Volcanoes National Park – because the volcano is active with lava eruptions in the crater
Visit Volcano Village close to the national Park
Have you been to Richardson Ocean Park aka Richardson’s beach?
Please share your thoughts and other recommendations in the comments below with your recommendations.
Conclusion to visiting Richardson Ocean Park in Hilo
For beach time in Hilo, a visit to Richardson Ocean Park in Hilo promises a serene and picturesque experience. With its tranquil beaches, lush coastal scenery, and opportunities for relaxation and leisure, this park offers a glimpse of Hawaii’s natural beauty at its finest. Whether you’re sunbathing, picnicking, or simply enjoying the breathtaking views, Richardson Ocean Park is a must-visit destination for those seeking a peaceful escape in Hilo.
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