Mahaiula Beach Overview
Within Kona Coast’s Kekaha Kai State Park, there are three beaches to enjoy: Makalawena Beach, Maniniowali Beach (Kua Bay) and Mahaiula Beach. Peppered with black and white sands, sheltered tide pools, and beautiful seascapes along turquoise waters, these three beaches are each unique with individual traits.
The crested cove at Mahaiula Beach makes for a fun day swimming and wading in the calmer protected bay. Mahaiula Beach has a nice section of white sand on the north end with shaded space for picnics and relaxation. To the south, the beach has more of a lava rock shoreline. The rockier south end of the beach offers barbecue grills and picnic tables to enjoy a beach side meal.
As is true with virtually the entire Kona-Kohala coastline of the Big Island, the water at Mahaiula Beach is stunningly clear, shimmering blue, and inviting, with good swimming and excellent snorkeling. There’s lots of space for sunbathing and water conditions to enjoy multiple water activities. Beachgoers might even spot Hydrofoil Surfers navigating the swells in Mahaiula Bay’s distant waters.
Ocean entry from the shore is fairly steep in spots so be aware and proceed with caution when swimming, particularly with small children as the sudden change in the water’s depth can catch unsuspecting keiki (children) and even an adult off guard. Also, when the wind picks up, the water gets choppy and swells can get rough in a hurry. With no lifeguard on duty, be aware of changing water conditions.
Mahaiula Bay History
This bay also has an interesting history. In the late 1800’s there was a small fishing village along Mahaiula Bay accessible only by foot trails and canoe. John Kaelemakule was raised along Mahaiula’s shores where he learned how to fish and canoe. His achievement as a fisherman and businessman funded construction of a home as well as the purchase of 40+/- acres along Mahailua Bay. Resting along the sand, you will see the historic, red plantation style bungalow with an inviting lanai built in 1880.
When John Kaelemakule died in 1936, the Magoon Family purchased the property for $1,000. Having Hawaiian ancestry, the Magoons had a vast amount of land holdings in the Hawaiian Islands. In the 1960’s an extension was added to the home with a kitchen connecting to the original structure. The Magoons kept the land until 1993, when it became property of the state of Hawaii. The home was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 2014.
The walking trail to Makalawena Beach starts just past this historic landmark on the north end of the bay.
Directions and Access to Mahaiula Bay
Plan on arriving early as parking fills up pretty quickly, especially on the weekend. Kekaha Kai State Park is just a couple of miles north of the Kona airport. Access to Mahaiula Bay is between mile markers 90 and 91 on Highway 19. The lava road to the shoreline is rough so take it slow, especially if you are driving a car and not a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The end of the road is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the highway. Continue on foot to your right (north) for 5 minutes to the beach.
This access road is the same for Makalawena Beach. If you arrive early in the morning, it could give you enough time to spend time on both Mahaiula and Makalawena beaches on the same day, making for only one round-trip drive down this rough access. It is hot along the Kona-Kohala coastline, so make sure you pack plenty of fresh water, reef-safe sunscreen, a hat or better yet an umbrella with you to enjoy a long sunburn-free day at the beach.
Mahaiula Beach Hours
Daily 8 AM-7 PM
No Fresh Water
Mahaiula Beach Location
Hawaii 19 (between mile markers 90 and 91)
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740