About Makalawena Beach on Kona & West Island, Hawaii
Makalawena Beach is one of those harder to reach beaches on the Big Island, but unlike most of the others, this one gets talked about by out of state visitors. The reason is because this is a truly special beach. It’s worth a walk of about a mile across a dry lava field on loose sharp rocks that absorb heat from the sun. Folks will bring all they need for the day to stay a long time and enjoy this amazing location.
Swimming is good here except during periods of rough surf. Snorkeling is decent on the north and south sides of Puu Alii Bay where Makalawena Beach is located. The sand is here is soft and white, and there are beautiful (and rare) dunes behind the beach. Shade trees make Makalawena just that much easier to enjoy for a full day.
The best way to get to Makalawena is to walk north on a rugged lava trail from Mahai’ula Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park. It’s a one-third mile to Mahai’ula from the parking area so it’s about 1.1 miles total from your car to Makalawena if you choose that route. It feels like way more than a mile, especially the first time you do it.
The road into Kekaha Kai State Park is a rough one but usually it’s drivable with two-wheel-drive vehicles (see our map for where to park and start your hike). The other way to get to Makalawena is by driving to Awake’e Bay, but you’ll need a lifted 4×4 rig to pull that off (even a standard rental Jeep Wrangler could get stuck on the Awakee road). The walk from Awakee is much shorter, but the drive is teeth-jarringly brutal. If you walk from the main part of Kekaha Kai State Park, don’t get trapped in when they lock the car gate at the end of the day. Try to be out of the park by 6:30 as they close the gates at 7 pm.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
- Park Name
- Kekaha Kai State Park
- Other Names
- Puu Alii Bay, Pu'u Ali'i Beach
- Pet Details
- No dogs allowed in the park
- Free parking, no entrance fees
- Swimming, Bodyboarding, Hiking, Sunbathing, Snorkeling
- Dunes, Trails, Anchialine Ponds, Picnic Tables
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