HAWAII — North Kona Coast

When you are travelling north along the Queen Ka´ahumanu Highway (Highway 19) from Kailua-Kona you will see many barren lava fields that look very much like lunar landscapes. If you look inland you will see the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. There are some beautiful beaches along this coastline but many are only accessible by 4-wheel drive or by hiking to them.


Traveller's Tip

Highway 19 is a relatively flat and straight road that it is easy to speed along but just beware that it is a speed trap and it is not always possible to spot the police so keep to the speed limit.

The sights found here are:
Honokohau Harbour
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
Honokohau Beach
Wawaloli Beach
Pine Trees
Onizuka Space Center
Kekaha Kai State Park
Kiholo Bay

Honokohau Harbour

Honokohau Harbour
This is where most of the fishing boats come in and it is a great place to see the catches of the charter fishing boats such as marlin and yellowfin tuna being weighed.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
This area was important to the native Hawaiians before the European settlers came. On the northern end of the coast is Kaloko Fishpond and just inland from Honokohau Beach is Aimakapa Fishpond which is the largest pond on the Kona Coast and is a wildlife habitat especially for endangered waterbirds. The park remains relatively undeveloped and there are few facilities available within the park but there is a visitor’s centre — Hale Ho´okipa found around a kilometre north of the entrance to Honokohau Harbour where you can get information.

For information about this park visit the website at: http://www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm

Traveller's Tip

It is better to visit this park when the weather is cooler either in the early morning or the late afternoon as it can be unbearable in the middle of a hot day.
Honokohau Beach

Honokohau Beach
This beach is found just north of the harbour and used to be a nudist beach but this isn’t the case any longer since it came under the control of the national park. There is a low lava shelf at the water’s edge and the ocean bottom is shallow and rocky. An offshore fringing reef shelters the beach from strong surf and currents which makes it a good place for swimming and snorkelling. At the northern end of the beach you can follow the trail across a lava field to a brackish-water pool. This pool is known as the Queen’s Bath and it is sometimes used by people to rinse off after they have had a swim in the ocean.

Wawaloli Beach

Wawaloli Beach
This beach isn’t good for swimming but it is great for exploring the tide pools caused by the rocky lava found here. There are facilities here as well.

Pine Trees

Pine Trees
This beach is found a few kilometres south of Wawaloli Beach and to get here you will need a 4WD. Take the road that leads to the Natural Energy Laboratory which is found off Highway 19 and turn left where the Energy Lab access road comes to a t-intersection. This is a very popular beach for surfers but it is too rocky and inaccessible for swimmers.

Traveller's Tip

This beach was named Pine Trees not because you will find pine trees here but because someone thought the trees near the mangroves were pine trees and the name just stuck.

Onizuka Space Center
This small museum is found opposite the rental car booths at Kona Airport. The museum is a tribute to the Big Island-born astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who died in the 1986 Challenger space-shuttle disaster. Displays include a real moon rock, a NASA spacesuit and scale models of spacecraft.
For information about this museum visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiimuseums.org/mc/ishawaii_astronaut.htm

Kekaha Kai State Park

Kekaha Kai State Park
This is a 1600 acre state park with beautiful beaches that are very secluded mainly due to the fact they are hard to get to. The largest and easiest to reach is Mahai´ula Beach. This is a good swimming and snorkelling beach during summer but when the surf is high during the winter months it is only really suitable for surfers. It can be accessed by a normal car but the going does get rough in places. Most of the other beaches found in this park are inaccessible except by a 4WD or by hiking to them. The other beaches found here are Kua Bay which is just beautiful and Makalawena and Makole´a Beaches. These beaches are worth the effort because of the crystal clear waters and abundant sea life found there but the condition of the road out to them can be rough.

Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay
On the way up the coast on Highway 19 at the number 82 marker you will come to a lookout that gives a lovely view over Kiholo Bay. This beautiful bay with the rocky lava island in the middle cannot be accessed by car. If you want to visit you will have to hike there and it will probably take you around a half an hour. At the southern end of the bay is a spring-fed pond called Luahinewai and in front of this is a great black sand beach. When the sea is calm it is good for swimming and snorkelling. There are some beautiful private homes found here as well. The freshwater pond called Queens’s Bath is found further south along the coast. It is a lava tube that is filled with water from a spring.