About Haena Beach (Shipman Beach) on Hilo & East Island, Hawaii
Ha’ena Beach is located in a remote area south of Hilo. The beach is open to the public, but it’s surrounded by private land so you can’t drive there. The only access is a 2.9 mile one-way hike on the Puna Historic Trail (aka Old Puna Trail). Haena Beach is also known as Shipman Beach for the Shipman Estate property that surrounds it.
The hike to Haena Beach follows a relatively flat wide trail that was used in historic times for traveling between coastal towns. In more recent times, this trail was converted to a road (Government Road) and remained open to 4×4 vehicles for years, but now it’s just for pedestrian use. The surface is a mix of lava rocks and dirt that can be very muddy after rains, and it rains here often. Most of the trail is in dense vegetation that feels like a tropical jungle (which it is). According to state rules, bikes aren’t allowed on this trail, but dogs are as long as they are on a leash the entire time. Note that camping is prohibited so plan your day hike accordingly.
When you get to the end of your hike you’ll discover a beautiful scene. The sandy beach is a small spot at the back of the cove which has a shoreline made up mostly of lava rock. The cove is protected from waves by a reef so it’s popular for swimming, but there can be a strong rip current due to the shape of the cove. Be careful during your stay and don’t go in the water if there are big waves in the area. People have drowned here recently.
At Haena Beach you might find sea turtles, protected birds like the nene (Hawaiian goose), or the endangered Hawaiian monk seal on the shore. If you do, give them lots of space. You might also come across historic sites on your hike. If you see any structures or rock walls, don’t disturb them. A WWII era bunker is also next to the trail if you look around. Don’t leave the trail or venture inland from the beach as all the land around it is private.
The trailhead for Puna Trail is located at the north end of Beach Road in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision. To get there from the Hilo area head south on Highway 130 and then turn left on Kaloli Drive. That road descends for just over four miles to an intersection with Beach Road. Turn left there and you’ll drive into the trailhead parking lot in short distance. A sign at the trailhead has a map and information about the beach.
The parking lot closes at 5pm so park outside the gate if there’s any chance you won’t get back in time to move your car. Some people stay late at this beach, but note that it gets dark early due to the sun setting on the other side of the island and the dense vegetation.
Note that if you don’t have time to hike all the way to Shipman Beach, there’s a trail that goes straight to the shoreline from the parking lot in about one-third of a mile. There is no sandy beach there, but it’s much quicker than the long hike.
- Kaloli Dr & Beach Rd
Keaau, HI 96749
- Park Name
- Puna Historic Trail, Kea'au Ranch, Shipman Estate
- Other Names
- Ha'ena Beach, Keaau Beach, Kalele, Paki Bay, Kipaepae
- Pet Details
- Dogs allowed on leash
- Free parking at trailhead
- Hiking, Sightseeing, Fishing, Wildlife Watching
- Trails, Interpretive Signs, Archeological Sites, Military Structure, Stream
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