With Mahai'ula Beach, Ka'elehuluhulu Beach, and Manini'ōwali Beach along its shores, Kekaha Kai State Park has more than its fair share of beautiful sand. Even among these spots, however, Makalawena Beach stands out for its sheer size and aesthetic appeal. Waves here can be great for boogie boarding, and the gentle slope of the beach makes swimming a breeze when the conditions are right. Take a stroll along the waterline and enjoy the silky texture of the fine white sand, and you'll agree that this is a special spot.
At just shy of a half mile long, Makalawena Beach has a few sections. The southern crescent has the longest portion of continuous sand and slightly mellower waves; beyond the point to the north you'll find some bigger surf, a freshwater pool, and on weekends, more of a local vibe. This is a large beach that requires some work to access, however, so visitors are likely to find it less crowded than other beaches in the park.
Most people reach Makalawena using a trail that leaves from the north end of Mahai'ula Beach, which itself requires a short walk from the parking area. From Mahai'ula Beach you'll continue north beyond the Magoon house, through a grove of palm trees, and onto a trail that leads straight through the lava flow that Hualālai pushed out in 1801. The half-mile walk is over lava rubble, so sandals may not be the best choice here. Add to this distance the walk from the car to the north end of Mahai'ula Beach and you're looking at a mile to hike in. Ditch the beach chairs and opt for lighter belongings, but be sure to bring all of the sun protection and water you'll need for the day; there are no amenities at Makalawena Beach.
Those with rugged four-wheel drive vehicles and fortitude may find the access road coming in form the north an option, but this only gets you closer to the beach...you'll still have to walk. And because the road is so rough, you'll be spending just as much time getting there.
While this area is remote, all of the the protections of Kekaha Kai State Park still hold: Pets, alcohol, smoking, and yes, even camping and beach fires are prohibited here. The park hours are officially 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are no trash receptacles, so plan to carry out what you carry in, grab any litter you see, and leave no trace. This is an absolutely beautiful spot, and it won't stay that way unless we all take steps to protect it. Also, be aware that some visitors may opt to go nude at Makalawena, though there are plenty that wear bathing suits as well.