This beach, located in the Kekaha Kai State Park (formerly Kona Coast State park), is a true Hawaiian gem, and is unvisited by most locals and visitors, due to the effort required reach it. Many fine beaches are easier to access, but, on most week days, you’ll most likely share this beach (actually a series of 3 small bays, separated by rocky areas) with less than a handful of other folks. This is an incredible spot if you long for solitude while visiting the Big Island’s popular, tourist-packed "Gold Coast".
The sand is a fairly fine salt and pepper blend of white coral bits and well-worn black bits. The ocean is usually very calm, so this is a fantastic spot for both swimming and snorkeling. The water is a dreamy tropical turquoise blue with loads of shade trees as a backdrop. Shade is always a welcomed sight on the hot Kona Coast. Behind the trees is a brackish, fresh-water pool, perfect for cleaning off the sand and salt after an ocean swim. Be sure to take a dip before your hike back to your car, and don’t dry off. This should assure that you remain cool during the 10 to 15 minute trip.
Makalawena Beach has no life guards, no toilet facilities or services of any kind, other then one picnic table. Be sure to tote plenty of cold water with you since there is no potable water available in this section of the park.
Written By: Jonathan Botticelli
Take route 19 north out of Kailua-Kona. Approximately 2 ½ miles past the Kona Airport, just past mile marker 89 (if you see mile marker 88 you’ve gone too far), turn left onto the unpaved, unmarked access road. If you feel adventurous, you can drive one and one half miles down the very bumpy and pot-holed road to it’s end at a locked gate. Otherwise, park directly off Highway 19 and walk the access road. At the locked gate, follow the road to the beach. At the beach you will find the coastal trail. Proceed north, walking for about 10 minutes. You’ll know you have arrived at Makalawena Beach when you see the sand dunes to your right and the inviting ocean to your left.