A rugged hike surrounded by dried lava and sand dunes to one of the best beaches on Hawai'i.


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For one of the best beach hikes on the island without the crowds, head out to Makalawena Beach.

This flat coastline hike takes you across a sandy route with dried lava rocks to one side and shimmering ocean on the other side, ending at the tranquil and pristine white sand Makalawena Beach — one of the only beaches on the island not accessible by car. There are two trailheads that give you the option of hiking a total of either 2.2 miles or four miles.

The route here is the South Trail 2.2-mile round-trip hike, as the views from this trail are unmatchable.

To reach this trailhead, take Highway 19 north of Kailua-Kona, and turn down the road to Mahai’ula Bay between mile markers 90 and 91.

From here, head north towards Mahai’ula Bay.

What starts as a well-maintained path surrounded by dry, black lava fields quickly turns into a walk among white sand dunes that are covered by green pōhuehue, beach morning glories.

The stark contrast of white sand, blue ocean, black lava rocks, and green pōhuehue is simply stunning to see.

Before you change into your swimming suit for a dip in the ocean, once you’re on Makalawena Beach head down a small trail at the northern edge of the dunes to see an idyllic brackish pond surrounded by coconut trees — a little oasis in this arid part of Hawai'i.

Then, spend as long as your heart desires relaxing on the uncrowded beach before heading back the same way you came.

The only creatures that might get in your way are honu (green sea turtles), which are known to visit the beach relatively regularly.

Keep a good distance from them, though, so as not to disturb them.