About Kiholo Bay & Wainanalii Pond on Kona & West Island, Hawaii
Kiholo Bay is not a sandy beach destination, however, it should be on your Big Island bucket list. This gorgeous little bay is home to many turtles and several places to discover. The highlight of the bay is the northern part where a small spit protects a cove where sea turtles tend to congregate. This “turtle cove” is officially known as Wainanali’i Pond. The pond’s shore and a small island in the cove often has resting turtles too. Do not get near the turtles as they swim or rest on the beach. Just take pictures from a safe distance and admire their tranquility.
On the way to this cove there’s a beach made up of smooth small lava rocks. It has a stone-lined water channel that connects the ocean to fishponds and you might see fish or turtles going through it. The ponds are private so don’t go to them, but you can see them through the palm trees behind the beach.
Near the parking area for Kiholo Bay there’s also a lava cave filled with water that they call the Kiholo Queen’s Bath. It’s a great place to stop at or even get into and swim around. Inside it is dark and cold but let your eyes adjust and you’ll want to hang out for a while.
You can snorkel at Wainanalii Pond, but it’s not the best. Much of the area around the cove and the small island is very shallow. Also cold freshwater seeps in and mixes with the saltwater making the water cloudy (not to mention the shockingly cold spots in the water as you swim around). We recommend leaving the bulky snorkeling gear and just bringing a backpack full of things for a picnic. Swimming in the waters of this protected cove is still very refreshing, just look out for turtles. Hike along the lava behind the cove to get to the far reaches of it and get away from other people who are visiting Kiholo on the same day as you.
There are two ways to get to Kiholo Bay. One is to drive one mile on the rough road just south of the Kiholo Scenic Overlook near mile marker 82. The last part of that road is kind of tough in a normal car so park wherever you are comfortable. Note when the state park gate closes so you don’t get locked in at the end of the day. After you get onto the beach near the end of this road it’s about a mile of walking on the rocky beach past interesting homes to reach the turtle cove. This route is known as the Kiholo Huehue Trail.
Another option for getting to that cove is a more direct hike from a parking area along Highway 19 just south of mile marker 81. From there a trail goes south before turning towards the ocean. At 1/2 mile the trail connects to a driveway with a private gate on the right. Go down the driveway to the left and look for a path that goes towards the ocean (and doesn’t have a sign discouraging you to walk on it). From the spot where you reach the beach it is a short walk to your right (north) to the pebbly beach and the fishpond channel. Go a little farther along the shore over lava rock to reach the turtle cove. Wear sturdy shoes for the hike no matter which way you choose.
- 71-2000 Queen Kaahumanu Hwy
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
- Park Name
- Kiholo State Park Reserve, Kiholo Bay Fisheries Management Area
- Other Names
- Wainanalii Pond, Kiholo Huehue Trail
- Pet Details
- No dogs allowed in park
- Free parking, fees for camping
- Hiking, Swimming, Sightseeing, Fishing
- Campground, Restrooms, Anchialine Ponds, Trails, Historical Sites, Sea Turtles
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