COVID-19 has substantially impacted events across the state of Hawaii. Necessitated by Department of Health guidelines, large community events have been cancelled. The Big Island may not have ho’olaule’a or fireworks this year, but there is plenty of fun to be had at our newly opened beaches and local parks!
A quintessential activity celebrating the fourth of July is a family cookout. Hibachi, propane stoves and grills, and fires completely self contained within a vessel are allowed unless prohibited (indicated by signage) at Hawaii County Beaches and State Beach Parks. Open fires are not permitted on Hawaii County beaches or State Beach Parks. Built in grilling facilities are open for use at most beaches and are first come first served, but large pavilions are currently closed to the public.
Here are some of the best West Hawaii beach choices for a family barbecue or picnic:
Old Airport Beach Park & Recreation Area, Old A (Kailua Kona)
The Old Airport Recreation Area in Kailua Kona is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. This coarse white sand beach is ideal for sunbathing, picnicking, and barbecuing. There are small, shallow entry points to get in the water, making this an ideal keiki beach. Be careful, the water beyond the lava rocks is open ocean and there are no lifeguards at this beach.
Facilities include abundant parking, two restroom buildings, freshwater showers, and a paved walking path. There are three built in barbecue grills, located adjacent to the pavilion buildings. There is a large baseball field, soccer field, and keiki playground located within a short drive from the beach.
Hapuna Beach Park (Waikoloa Resort Area)
Hapuna Beach Park is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hapuna Beach Park is often on the Top 10 World’s Best Beaches list, and it’s easy to see why. At over half a mile long and more than 200 feet wide, this stretch of soft white sand is arguably the most popular West Hawaii beach. Hapuna Beach offers space to stretch out with pop up tents and beach chairs. The beach pavilions are closed, but the detached, built-in barbecue grills were available at the time of this writing. Due to its lack of rocks, Hapuna Beach is ideal for bodysurfing during high surf. The rocky edges to the north and south offer the best snorkeling, but can be dangerous during high surf or low tide.
Facilities include fully paved parking, ADA accessible parking and ramp access, three restroom facilities, freshwater showers and life guards. Hawaii residents are not assessed a parking fee. Visitors are charged a fee of $10 per car to park, collected at a small guard shack.
Wawaloli Beach, OTEC beach (North Kona)
Gate open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Located within NELHA directly South of the Kona airport, Wawaloli beach is a white sand beach with shallow, well protected ocean pools ideal for families with small children. There are many tide pools to explore to look for sea creatures. The water beyond the lava rock shore is hazardous and not recommended for swimming. Shore fishing off of the rocks is a popular activity at this beach. Facilities include picnic tables, barbecue grills, freshwater showers, and restrooms.
Kohanaiki Beach Park (Kailua Kona)
Kohanaiki Beach Park is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Kohanaiki Beach Park is tucked away behind the Kohanaiki private subdivision. You will need to enter through a guard shack to get to the beach. While the beach is comprised of white sand and coral rocks, entrance to the water is shallow and rocky. There are no lifeguards here, so exercise caution in the water during high surf. Kohanaiki Beach is one of the easiest to access for good shore fishing, found to the northern and southern flanks. The beach is ADA accessible, with close parking stalls and paved walkways to facilities. Facilities here include restrooms, freshwater showers, and potable water. You will need to bring your own barbecue, as the camping area is currently closed without a permit.
Spencer Beach Park (Kawaihae)
Spencer Beach Park is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Spencer Beach Park is a cozy white sand beach located directly South of the Kawaihae Harbor. Spencer Beach is equipped to cater to the entire family, with easy access to the water and ADA parking with a fully paved ramp to the picnic areas. The northern part of the beach is popular for shore fishing, and the southern part is great for snorkeling. A lifeguard is posted at the beach. Facilities include restrooms, freshwater showers, and lots of picnic tables. You will need to bring your own barbecue grill, as the built in grills are temporarily unavailable due to the campsite closure.
Ulu La’au, Waimea Nature Park (Waimea/Kamuela)
Ulu La’au is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Ulu La’au, meaning “Garden of Trees,” is a 10 acre nature park maintained by the Waimea Outdoor Circle. The park features picnic areas with picnic tables, benches, garden paths, and a greenhouse. Nature trails take you past 36 garden beds featuring native Hawaiian plants. There is plenty of grass to spread out and run around on. You can even bring your fuzzy family members, as dogs on a leash are welcome at this park. Grilling of any kind is not allowed, so this is a picnic only spot.
Keokea Beach Park (Hawi/Kapaau)
Gate open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Keokea Beach Park in Hawi is easy to miss, as it is located down a long, winding road. The swimming at this beach is limited to a narrow, shallow strip of water protected by a rocky breakwater. The sandy part of the beach is very small, but the picnic areas boast several large picnic tables and lots of shade. Freshwater showers and restrooms are available. The two small pavilions offer built in barbecues.
Manuka State Wayside (South Kona, near HOVE)
Gate open daily from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Manuka State Wayside offers a mauka portion and a beach access point. Manuka has built in fireplaces and grills, but as of the time of this writing the grills and pavilions are unavailable. Picnic tables are offered, and you are allowed to bring a hibachi grill or portable stove for use in the picnic area. The mauka portion of Manuka State Wayside features a 2 mile nature hike through an arboretum and natural Hawaiian rainforest. Facilities of the mauka part of Manuka include restrooms (no potable water), picnic tables, and paved parking. The beach portion of Manuka features a salt-and-pepper coarse sand beach and well-preserved petroglyphs. There are no facilities at this beach, so come prepared with plenty of water and supplies.
Enjoy the holiday weekend, and stay safe out there, Big Islanders!