Makalawena Beach, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Visitors are rewarded with miles of empty, white-sand beaches, coves, tide pools, and shade. Since you can’t get there by car, the experience is that much more satisfying.

Along Puu Alii Bay on the Big Island, your dreams of visiting a secluded tropical beach with gleaming sands and pristine surf can come true. Makalawea Beach, located at the northern end of the Kona Coast, is one of the best beaches in all of Hawaii, and it is only accessible on foot.

Makalawena Kalaoa HI USA

Makalawena, Kalaoa

Makalawena Beach, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Makalawena tucked away on the Kohala coast, is peaceful and out of the way. Since you can’t get there by car, the experience is much more satisfying. After navigating a rough, mile-long road and a 20-minute trek across the lava, visitors are rewarded with a picture-perfect scene featuring miles of empty, white-sand beaches, coves, tide pools, and shade.

A wonderful place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a day at the beach with wonderful scenery and tranquillity is Makalawena, which is a wonderful place. Bring a towel, water, sunscreen, and maybe even a picnic lunch, and just sit back and take in the place’s unparalleled sense of peace.

Overview of Makalawena Beach

Numerous people are curious as to whether or not driving is permitted here. As for “can,” the answer is obviously “yes.” Should you drive here? The answer is a resounding no. Even if you rent a Jeep, you’ll likely total it on the lava rock fields the locals can navigate while blindfolded. It’s a lot more convenient to park and walk.

It’s another 20 minutes or so of walking on the lava rock trail before you reach the sandy Makalawena Beach. Due to its isolation, this beach is rarely visited by anyone, making it the epitome of the “perfect hidden Hawaiian beach” in the eyes of many. Keep in mind that if anyone is around, they could be completely undressed. True, there are times when this area becomes a nudist beach.

Makalawena Beach Hawaii 19 Kailua Kona HI USA

Makalawena Beach, Hawaii ,19 Kailua Kona

Like many other hidden beaches, this one has no amenities. It’s a 30-minute hike back to your car and then another 30-minute hike (or a 5-minute drive) to Ka’elehuluhulu Beach, where you’ll find restrooms. When the ocean is calm, swimming here is pleasant; however, keep in mind that you are very far from assistance. You can still enjoy your time here, even if swimming isn’t your thing.

Access To Makalawena Beach

There are two different routes you can take to get to Makalawena Beach. The most convenient route is to take the car to Kekaha Kai Beach, walk north from that parking lot and approach Makalawena Beach from its southern end. Your journey will begin on Highway 19, and between miles 90 and 91, you will make a turn that will take you toward the ocean. A sign directing you to Kekaha Kai Sate Park will be in your view.

This road is unpaved for the most part, but it is passable by just about any vehicle. Simply proceed at your own pace. It should take about five minutes to drive to the end of this road, where there are likely parked cars on both sides. Find a place to park and start unloading your belongings. Remember that you will be transporting everything for approximately twenty to thirty minutes, and pack accordingly.

Kua Bay Kalaoa HI USA

Kua Bay, Kalaoa

You will walk north from this parking area, through a gate, and along the path towards the trees that are a couple of hundred yards ahead and on your left. These trees make up the Kekaha Kai Beach in the background. But you won’t be travelling to that location today. Today, you are fighting the temptation to simply take a break at this picture-perfect spot to achieve the greater reward of experiencing the seclusion and unspoiled beauty of Makalawena.

You will follow the path until it brings you to the northernmost tip of Kekaha Kai Beach. From there, you will continue following the path as it winds through the lava field for approximately twenty more minutes before reaching the dunes. You need not be concerned; this is not a mirage; you have arrived. Simply proceed in the direction of the sea at this point.

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Driving is the alternative mode of transportation to reach Makalawena Beach. A true 4WD vehicle (with adequate ground clearance) and competent driving skills are essential for this journey. If you choose this detour, you’ll leave State Route 19 at a point just past the halfway point between miles 88 and 89. You’ll have a hard time spotting the beginning of this road. It is the only other road between these two mileage markers and is located less than a quarter mile south of the paved road that leads to Kua Bay.

If you’re following this road and encounter a fork, take the fork to the left, and you’ll get where you need to go. Leaving the lava rock, you’ll feel like you’re on safari in the middle of Africa. Keep going until you reach the ocean, and then you can follow the “road” (I use that term loosely) along the rocky shoreline. After a while, you’ll reach a parking lot strewn with white coral and black lava rock. You can only go so far down this road before you reach a gate. Be mindful of where other vehicles enter and exit, and park accordingly.

Makalawena Kalaoa HI USA2

Makalawena, Kalaoa, USA


Makalawena is like a postcard from the real world, with its emerald palms, white sand, and black lava rock contrasting beautifully with the azure sky and clear water. Most of the time, the water is calm and pleasant for a dip after the ascent. Surf can be dangerous, so it’s smart to assess the situation before diving in. Snorkelling and scuba diving enthusiasts frequent this area. Octopus and shellfish are their claims to fame.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Can you swim at Makalawena Beach?

The swimming at Makalawena Beach is great when the water is calm, with excellent snorkeling along the lava rock outcroppings that run along the multiple coves. Makalawena Beach is part of Puu Alii Bay, and this entire area is very rich in marine life. Bodyboarding, swimming, and snorkeling are common activities here.

Are there bathrooms at Makalawena Beach?

Amenities: In the parking area there are portable toilets, BBQs, picnic tables, and trash cans. At Makalawena Beach (a 40 minute hike away), there are no facilities.

Can you drive to Makalawena Beach?

One of the ways that people get to Makalawena Beach is by driving. But it’s off-road driving and this is one of the roads on the Big Island that requires a 4-wheel drive. And there will be bumpy parts. But you might find it to be a fun ride in your jeep car rental that’s right along the ocean for a part of the drive!

Resources To Help You Plan Your Next Adventure

What to Pack: To help you get started on packing, here are essential travel gear for your trip.

Travel Insurance: If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip we would recommend, which fits to all kind of adventure.

Flight Tickets: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Accommodation: Trivago or are the ultimate go-to platforms to search for amazing hostels and hotels at an affordable price.

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