About Kawa Bay Beach on Kau & South Island, Hawaii
Kawa Bay Beach and 234 acres of land behind it are now public property. The state and Hawaii County came together to purchase it for three main reasons – 1) it’s a beautiful place, 2) it’s chock full of archaeological sites, and 3) it has flora and fauna habitats worth protecting. Fortunately, the county now manages this little-known spot and the public gets to keep using it as long as we don’t abuse it.
If the waves are calm, swimming and snorkeling is possible at Kawa Bay, just watch for currents and don’t get out too far without fins. When the waves are up, local surfers will be out in the bay. SCUBA divers commonly enter the water here too.
There are many historical structures all around Kawa Bay including some that were built right behind the beach. This site was inhabited many years ago because of Kawa Springs, a source of freshwater, which is near the beach. A huge heiau (ceremonial temple) called Ke’eku Heiau is located up high on the adjacent lava flow east of the beach. If you visit this structure, don’t enter it, just take photos from outside and be careful not to disturb anything and that goes for all the structures at Kawa. Also if you visit the anchialine freshwater springs, don’t enter them as they are home to shrimp and birds.
Getting to Kawa Bay requires hiking one of two rough roads, both of which are about mid-way between mile markers 58 and 59 on Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy 11). Both have bright yellow gates with huge boulders on both sides and are about a half-mile long from the highway to the beach. Parking spaces are available along the highway shoulder outside both gates. The road closer to MM58 (the eastern road) is more direct to the main beach on the bay. This gate is always closed so it requires hiking on a road of dirt and lava rocks. The gate at the western entrance is usually open so you could drive it, but it’s very rutted and overgrown. That road ends on the western side of the pond, which is difficult to cross at the outflow to the ocean without getting wet. Hiking the eastern route to the beach is recommended.
Beach hours are posted as 6am to 6pm. Dogs and camping are not allowed at Kawa Bay Beach.
- 95-4667 Hawaiʻi Belt Rd
Naalehu, HI 96772
- Other Names
- Kawa Spring, Hanai, Pohakuahalulu, Hilea Gulch
- State, County
- Pet Details
- No dogs allowed
- Free parking along the highway
- Hiking, Sightseeing, Photography, Fishing, Surfing, Scuba Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling
- Historical Sites, Trails, Toilets, Tide Pools, Stream, Driftwood, Picnic Tables
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