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Mauna Kea Beach

Big Island, Hawai'i

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Mauna Kea Beach

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  • The parking area for the public beach is at the end of Mauna Kea Beach Drive.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Beachgoers walk about a quarter of a mile to reach the beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Beachgoers walk about a quarter of a mile to reach the beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • The public access runs through the resort grounds.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach from the south end.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • The south end of the beach is more for the public; the north end is predominantly hotel guests.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • The Ala Kahakai National Scenic Trail runs south from the beach toward Hapuna Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • The Ala Kahakai National Scenic Trail runs south from the beach toward Hapuna Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Golf greens abut the south end of the beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach from the south end.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • - Mauna Kea Beach
  • - Mauna Kea Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • The waves close to shore can be good for boogie boarding.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • A Hawaiian canoe built to resemble historic models gives tours of the area.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Outrigger canoes at Mauna Kea Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach from the north end with the hotel on the left.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • A short wave breaks off of the north point.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Sunset from Mauna Kea Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
  • Sunset from Mauna Kea Beach.- Mauna Kea Beach
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Fine white sand. Broad crescent beach. Restrooms and showers. Family-friendly water.
Cons: 
Limited parking.
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Region:
Big Island, HI
Congestion: 
High
Location type: 
Sandy beach
Parking Pass: 
Mauna Kea Beach Pass
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

Mauna Kea Beach is consistently regarded as one of the Big Island's top beaches, and it's hard to argue otherwise. Fine white sand, turquoise waters, fun but not abusive surf conditions, restrooms and showers, shade opportunities beneath the trees...the list goes on and on. About the only thing that might keep this from living at the top of your list of dream beaches would be the undeniable presence of the resort; if the resort culture makes you uncomfortable, find another beach or stick to the south end, where the public and locals have a great time. 

This is a great beach for families as the restrooms and showers are close, the sand is fine, and the surf conditions are generally friendly. Always be careful, however; the surf can and does rough people up from time to time. Lifeguards are on duty at the north end for guests, so if you are swimming at the south end you are on your own. Bring a boogie board to surf close to shore or a paddleboard or surfboard to surf the wave that breaks off of the north point.

As popular as this beach is, you can probably guess that parking is an issue. Visitors access the beach through the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel entrance gate, and a limited number (30) of free passes are allocated every day. Arrive early for the best chances of getting one, or aim to show up late and take advantage of some turnover. From the parking area it is a five-minute walk downhill to the beach. If you show up and can't get a pass for Mauna Kea Beach, ask if you can get one for nearby Mau'umae Beach a little farther north. If both are out, don't give up; head back south for the equally impressive Hāpuna Beach.

A quick warning: While surf conditions are usually friendly and fun at Mauna Kea, the ocean always has a right to change those circumstances. Waves here can and do lift people up and slam them down again with great force when conditions are whipped up. It can be tough to respect rough surf conditions when you are on vacation and have a limited time to spend in the water, but staying out is much better than getting injured. Remember, there are no lifeguards here to bail you out of a bad choice.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(24 within a 30 mile radius)

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