Overview of James Kealoha Beach Park
Located two miles south of Hilo in a series of well known beach parks, is James Kealoha Beach Park. It is just northeast of Carlsmith Beach Park on the east side of the Big Island. The park is nicknamed “4-mile” by locals, but it’s official name comes from James Kealoha, who was the first Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii and a well-respected Big Island legislative leader.
James Kealoha Beach Park does not have a traditional sandy beach area, but is celebrated for its popular water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and fishing. The eastern side of the bay is a sheltered lagoon where the reef and lava rock barrier break the ocean current, providing a good swimming and snorkeling area. The middle and west side of the bay is open to the ocean and allows in waves for surfing and boogie boarding. During higher surf, the rip current can be quite strong in the surfing area so be cautious.
Snorkeling is best along the reef areas where you can see many species of fish dancing along the coral. Close to the shore, cold freshwater springs bubble up from below, making a good environment for sea life and turtles like to frequent this area. There is a stairway entry into the water however, swimming can also be accessed along the shore.
Beach Park Features
On the weekends, this park can get busy with many local families and visitors coming out to enjoy the bay, but the swimming area is large and pretty spread out. The grassy park area has several barbecue grills and picnic tables, some shade and a shower and restroom. Overall, this park offers the necessary conveniences to enjoy a day at the beach with the family. Local shave ice and various food trucks visit the beach park regularly, offering concessions.
Located offshore you will see an island often utilized by the Boy Scouts aptly named Scout Island, or Mahikea Island. Mahikea refers to the drupe shell snails found in shallow, rock-strewn areas, commonly eaten by the ancient Hawaiians. The 1946 Aleutian Island Tsunami, shortened Scout Island but it still remains today as an interesting islet to explore.
James Kealoha Beach Park is located at the intersection of Kalanianaole Avenue and Keaukaha Road.