We went to quite a few beaches while on the Big Island, but one stood above all the rest – Manini’owali Beach in Kua Bay. If you’re looking for an instagram-perfect white sand beach that’s perfect for swimming and has the most amazing turquoise water, this is the beach that you want!
One note Manini’owali Beach is CLOSED on Wednesdays. We actually drove out to this beach on a Wednesday and were flummoxed by the closed gate – especially since your basic googling doesn’t turn up this not so fun fact. So to repeat, Manini’owali Beach is closed on Wednesdays. Don’t get your hopes crushed like we did.
Like I said in my post on Hawaii breweries, Greyson and I had basically an extra day before our red eye flight on Thursday, so we headed back to Manini’owali, car packed to the gills with all of our luggage. Manini’owali Beach is north of the Kona Airport, and about 25 minutes north of the town of Kona, depending on traffic. The road out to this beach is also paved and safe for rental cars, which isn’t true for all of the beaches in the area. We got there around 11 am on a Thursday and didn’t have much trouble finding parking, but I think we got there as the early crowd was leaving. I imagine this place would be packed on a weekend. Also, the parking isn’t visible from the beach, so we were a little nervous about leaving our stuff (including computers/cameras) in the car. From the research we did, this beach seems pretty safe as far as car break ins go, and we didn’t see broken glass or anything. Our stuff was fine, but leave valuables in your car at your own risk.
The pictures I saw ahead of time made Manini’owali Beach looked amazing, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up to high. When I got my first glimpse of the beach, though, I literally gasped. It is like a cartoon drawing of a Hawaiian beach. After changing in the public (very clean) bathrooms, I beelined straight for the sand. Growing up in Washington and Oregon, I know that sandy ocean beaches are a luxury that I do not take for granted. This sand is perfect for hanging out – soft and not filled with bugs!
We sunscreened up using Think Sport (Thinksport) and Alba (Alba Botanica ) which don’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate – the coral harming sunscreen ingredients, and hung out on the beach for a bit. I only lasted a few minutes before heading into the perfect looking water, and it felt just as good as it looked. The temperature was perfect, the swell was gentle, and there were no rocks or urchins to worry about.
We floated around, playing in the gentle waves. We even saw a sea turtle lazily swimming by! I could have stayed at Manini’owali Beach forever, but we did have to get out eventually. I can’t use enough superlatives to describe how awesome this beach is, so you’ll just have to visit it yourself.
While Manini’owali Beach was far and away my favorite, we went to quite a few beaches on the west side of the Big Island, and here are my recommendations. For a sandy beach right in Kailua-Kona, Magic Sands Beach is great. We swam around and did a little snorkeling, but it’s not ideal for that. For snorkeling in the Kona area, we had better luck just a few minutes south at Kahalu’u Beach Park. It’s murky close to shore where most people hang out, but Greyson and I found some live coral and interesting fish further out towards the breakwater and the water is much clearer out there. Wear booties and watch for urchins though! If you want to get out of Kailua-Kona and do some body surfing or boogie boarding, Hapuna Beach Park towards the north end of the island is a good option. This beach is huge and has a ton of parking, so it could be a good option on a busier weekend when the smaller beaches are more crowded.
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