About Hakalau Beach Park on Hilo & East Island, Hawaii
Hakalau Beach Park has a mostly rocky shoreline at the mouth of Hakalau Stream north of Hilo. Since the road has been closed permanently to cars, the park doesn’t get used as much by locals who would typically gather in the evenings and on the weekends to barbecue and play in the waves. The park is still open, but now visitors must walk the road or a steep trail from the parking area on the bluff above.
In general the shoreline here is pretty rocky and has driftwood strewn about. A sand bar sometimes forms at the mouth of the stream, but it might not be accessible from the main part of the park. Where the ocean waves hit the calm stream water, the waves roll in and can create conditions for expert boogie boarding. Keiki (kids) can play in the calmer water inside the river mouth. Note that outside the river mouth the current can be strong so use caution (and fins) if you plan to swim there.
An historic Highway 19 bridge has tall steel towers that cast shadows over the beach and park. The Hakalau Bridge (circa 1911) is a converted railroad trestle and spans 722 feet at about 260 feet over the stream. Leftover foundations and concrete walls from an old sugar mill still remain next to the stream. Pro-level graffiti artists have created artworks on several walls. Hakalau Sugar Mill, which was originally built in 1890, shut down in 1974 and the remaining main structure was demolished in 1979. The 3.2 acre property in the gulch became a county park in 2009.
Access to Hakalau Beach Park is easiest with a 2/3 mile walk down the old park road. This route can be wet when the stream crosses the last bridge so bring water shoes or plan to go barefoot if this happens. The other option for beach access is hiking down a steep trail which begins near the gate blocking the road. The trail has steps in places, but it’s still steep and slippery. We don’t recommend this option for folks that aren’t comfortable with tricky hiking conditions.
To find this hidden park, drive north from Hilo on the Hawaii Belt Road (Hwy 19) and turn right following signs to Hakalau just after mile marker 15. This road is a section of Old Mamalahoa Highway which dead-ends at the gate and parking area for Hakalau Beach Park (no park signs anywhere). On the way you’ll pass by the Hakalau Plantation Company buildings.
- 29-2306 Old Mamalahoa Hwy
Hakalau, HI 96710
- Park Name
- Hakalau Bay Beach Park
- Other Names
- Hakalau Bay, Hakalau Stream
- Pet Details
- Dogs are typically not allowed at county parks, but no county park signs remain
- Free parking
- Picnicking, Bodyboarding, Swimming
- Bridge, Stream, Historic Buildings, Picnic Tables, Covered Pavilion
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