Travel north of Kailua-Kona along Highway 19 and you will find the most beautiful beaches on the Big Island. Beautiful people gravitate to beautiful beaches, so you will also find big beautiful resorts.
Even if you don’t stay at a resort, you can walk through their luxurious lobbies, eat at their restaurants, and enjoy their sandy beaches. For example, the Hilton has its own salt water lagoon that is calm even when the open ocean is stormy.
You may have heard your kids can swim with the dolphins in Hawaii, and that is true. The Hilton Waikoloa Village hosts Dolphin Quest. For $125 per half hour you child can get in the lagoon with the dolphins. The staff video tapes the experience and seems to work hard at making sure the kids and the dolphins have fun.
Where are the white sand beaches? The typical white sand beaches and turquoise waters of Hawaii are along the Kohala Coast. While we were there in October, the water was calm enough for little kids to play in, in the morning. The bigger kids were enjoying boogie boarding. During other times of the year you can surf.
The white sand comes from the coral that lies just off shore. That means the snorkeling is also wonderful. The Maniniowali Beach is shown here. It isn’t big, but the white sand contrasts wonderfully with the black lava surrounding it.
Highway 19 runs along the northwest coast of the big island connecting one resort to another. Once you drive north of Kona, there are miles and miles of lava fields. Use a guide book to get directions to the many little, beautiful beaches that separate the lava fields from the ocean. This area has some of the best snorkeling on the island. This is also where you will find fine, white sand beaches.
You can’t go wrong snorkeling anywhere in the area. If one spot doesn’t seem to be too fishy, just move up or down the road a mile or so until you find more action. The coral in this area is better than just south of Kona.
Some of the beaches have restrooms, showers, and paved parking lots, but many of them are nothing more than a dirt road or path to the beach. Some of them are next to or part of luxury resorts. Only those near resorts have any niceties like food or gear rental. Be prepared and bring both with you.
Spencer Beach is at the north end of highway 19, along the coast. It is not as pretty as some of the beaches to the south of it, but it is a nice place for kids to swim. With reservations, you can camp right on the beach.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park is just north of Kona at the north end of the Honokohau Boat harbor. The park includes historical buildings, palm tree lined beaches and the Aiopio tide pools. The surf is calm and the park is secluded.
There is no fee to enter the park. There are two entrances, one at the north end of the harbor and the other is off highway 19. We found many green sea turtles munching on sea weed in the bay.
The tide pools on the north west coast of the Big Island are very interesting and full of life. They are little nurseries for the greater ocean. They contain some of the same sea life that you can see while snorkeling as well as baby tropical fish. This is where we saw a blue moiré eel.