“A Tale of Three Beaches”
I knew when coming to the Big Island that it wasn’t known for its beaches – more for the activities, adventure, volcanoes, etc. I knew that there wasn’t a beach in front of our hotel and that would be the case with most of the hotels on this island. When you come to Kona, you need to be prepared to explore and find the best spots on the island and you definitely need to have a car. Being prepared for all of that, we have set out on a quest to find some of the best beaches this week.
Beach 1: Kahaluu Beach Park. This is the closest beach to our hotel. It is about a 15 min walk or 3 minute drive down Alii Drive. It got almost 5 stars on a review site and was reported to be one of the best snorkeling sites on the island when it comes to quantity and variety of fish. We were told it was a lot of lava rocks, but there were sandy ways to enter the water. Reality: This is a very small rocky, black sand beach. There were TONS of snorkelers here, so I assume the snorkeling was very good. However, the “sandy” paths to enter the water were very rocky and hard on the feet and there were a lot of sea urchins. You shouldn’t come without proper water shoes and it was very dangerous and slippery for little guys and old guys. I would come if you are an experienced snorkeler but not with little kids. We stayed all of 5 minutes, packed up and went back to the pool.
Beach 2: Spencer Beach Park. After the disappointment of Kahaluu, I called in the experts. Our friends who have been here with their kids numerous times. I asked them what a few of their favourite beach spots were for kids. On their recommendation, we decided to drive the hour or so to Spencer Beach Park up on the Kohala Coast. There was a bit of traffic as we made our way through Kona, but after that it was smooth sailing and an interesting drive through lots of lava fields. I think I was most surprised by the number of wild goats! We arrived at Spencer Beach Park early around 930am and it was a beautiful spot. It’s a calm bay, good for kids to go in the water and there was snorkeling in the rocks on either end of the beach and the reef a bit further out. There were two sets of bathroom facilities – one on either end – plus tennis courts and camping areas. It wasn’t very busy or crowded and was a pretty and safe beach. I felt it was well worth the drive and we enjoyed our couple of hours there. On a recommendation from the same friends, we also tried Kohala Burger and Taco – a 4 minute drive from Spencer Beach Park. It was a friendly little spot that had takeout as well as a few picnic tables to dine in. The food was wonderful and all the burgers are homemade. For burgers, chicken, fries and onion rings for five of us, it was about $60, which isn’t too bad for island dining prices. We didn’t try their tacos, but it was Taco Tuesday and we could have gotten 2 tacos, fries and a drink for $6 which is a really good deal. If you are headed up towards North Kohala, give this place a try!
Beach 3: Magic Sands. On our drive back from Spencer Beach Park, we took Alii Road along the coast, instead of the highway. We saw the beachfront/touristy part of Kona for the first time and we also noted a nice little beach near our hotel (about 1 mile further than Kahaluu). It was called Magic Sands Beach and we decided to give it a try the following day. I read online that the shorebreak could be dangerous and to use caution in the water. We arrived at Magic Sands early as parking is really limited. It was another beautiful, sunny day and although there was lots of room when we arrived, the beach started to fill up quickly. There is a lifeguard on duty all the time and it’s a good thing as the waves were big and they constantly kept reminding people to watch their kids in the water and be careful of the shorebreak. It was very easy to get tumbled around a bit and you need to keep your kids near and hang on to the little guys at all times. The white sand is like sugar and the water is clear and blue. It is a very pretty little bay and probably one of the best beach spots in the Kona area. There are basic bathroom facilities on one end. We liked this little beach spot and because it’s so close and convenient, I’m sure we will be back.