About Mauna Kea Beach (Kaunaoa Beach) on Kona & West Island, Hawaii
Kaunaoa Beach is much better known as Mauna Kea Beach. It’s considered one of the top two beaches on the Kona side of the island (Hapuna Beach being the other one).
Mauna Kea Beach is popular with families since there’s a ton of space for towels and sandcastles and the waves are fun to play in. Surfers might be riding waves over the shallow reef at the north end of the beach when conditions are right (higher surf). On mild surf days you’ll see boogie-boarders catching the relatively safer waves everywhere else. When this area has a high surf warning the lifeguards can close the beach, but more often the waves are great for kids (and adults) to play in.
At the north end of the beach the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel stands tall and although the beach chairs and lawns are reserved for resort guests, the restaurant behind the beach is open to the public. This is a great place to get lunch and drinks.
The snorkeling is good at the north end along the edges of the reef (outside of the surfing area) and at the south end. Both areas have coral reefs and plentiful fish. Swimming is great at Mauna Kea Beach, but you should be aware that rip currents can develop so use fins if you have them or don’t go too far out.
The Ala Kahakai Trail runs along the shore north and south of the beach for exploring the resort and getting some exercise.
The public parking lot for Mauna Kea Beach is at the end of Mauna Kea Beach Drive near their golf course clubhouse. To get a spot, show up early in the morning and ask for a parking pass at the entrance gate. On sunny days if you wait until 10 a.m. you probably won’t get a pass. This beach is definitely worth the effort to arrive much earlier. From the parking lot a paved path descends for about one-quarter mile to the beach.
- 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr
Waimea, HI 96743
- Other Names
- Kauna'oa Beach
- Pet Details
- No dogs allowed at the beach
- Free parking (get a pass at entrance gate)
- Sunbathing, Swimming, Snorkeling, Surfing, Walking
- Restrooms, Showers
3.6 miles away
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