Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mauna Kea: Big Island's Best Swimming Beach

Fine white imported sand gently slopes into the warm sea on this protected crescent beach.  Easily the best swimming beach on the island of Hawai'i.  (Kua Bay on a calm day is number two).  Apart from the tourists who pay over $400 a night to stay at the Mauna Kea Resort, few people know about this public access paradise. 

It's tucked between two more famous beaches (Hapuna and Spenser) on the Kohala Coast, about 40 minutes north of Kailua-Kona.  The reason this beach is not a famous is that there is limited parking, about 30 spots, located inside the grounds of a fancy resort.  You have to drive through a guard shack and the pretty Mauna Kea golf course to the end of a hotel road to get here.  

Take the public access trial a short way to one of the most ideal swimming spots in Hawai'i.  The small bay is protected by rocks so it is calm with no surf.  The sand is fine, white powder - no lava, no pebbles - perfect. No surf means clear water and good snorkeling conditions too. 

The Mauna Kea Hotel is an expensive, beautiful resort with impressive accommodations. A screwdriver from the bar will set you back $12. The hot tub is turned up super hot at night.

Bring a beach umbrella, a few beach chairs, a blanket or sheet, and your picnic lunch. This is one of the most awesome beaches I've been to. 

The ugly: unfortunately it's 40 minutes from Kailua-Kona and sometimes a little too windy.  Kids will love it here though. The crowd consists of older, mostly rich caucasian folk.  It is best to arrive before 10am to claim a coveted parking pass. 


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