Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
55.00 ft (16.76 m)
Trail type
1.30 mi (2.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

A short but hidden and very often passed right by hike on the Big Island's southeastern Ka'u shore is the walk to Kawa Bay. This 550 acre protected space lies nearly hidden, marked by a lone yellow gate along the road and a shoulder wide enough for a couple vehicles to park.

The land is of spiritual and cultural significance, along with being the nesting area for the endangered Hawaiian hawksbill turtle. At the end of the half mile double track trail is the bay, a popular surfing spot beside a rocky and black sand shore. A short walk to the south leads to an estuary fed by cold freshwater Kawa Spring. 

There are numerous structure remains along the hike and throughout the area. Ke‘ekū Heiau, one of the largest heiau in the area, lies here. This area also plays a role in the island's history, including being the beach that Nu'uanupa'ahu, a Ka'u chief, learned to surf at.

Having had access contested for years by neighboring landowners, this area has ultimately become protected by the Trust for Public Land, ensuring public access to the beach and cultural areas.

A visit to Kawa Bay makes for a great short hike that most island visitors tend to pass right by. Please be respectful of the area and its history and cultural significance.

There is an outhouse near the entrance gate, however there are no other amenities or water at this hike. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Street Parking

Open Year-round



Cultural site


Limited parking

Trailhead Elevation

55.00 ft (16.76 m)

Highest point

55.00 ft (16.76 m)


Native artifacts
Geologically significant
Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Historically significant

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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