Along the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii, the Hilo district is renowned for its beach parks, featuring sheltered swimming areas and tide pools. Located less than 1-mile northeast from Carlsmith Beach Park and a mere 3-miles south from downtown Hilo, you will find another unique recreational area called Onekahakaha Beach Park.
Onekahakaha in Hawaiian means “drawing pictures sand” and was named by Hawaii County, who turned it into a 13 acre beach park in 1930. Prior to this, it was referred to as Machida Beach after the property owner Tomozo Machida, you will notice the road to the parking lot still bears his name today.
Onekahakaha Beach Park is a great family spot offering a large shallow, white-sand bottomed pool protected by a lava rock seawall. The park also has permitted pavilion picnic areas, restrooms, parking and showers with abundant area to spread out and enjoy a relaxing day. The area is also a favorite spot for Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, so you may see them lounging in the shallows or feeding in the pool.
The protected waters and shallow depth of this tide pool makes it especially attractive to families looking for a day at the beach with plenty of amenities and a lifeguard. Because of the family friendly setting, this beach park can become crowded at prime times, weekends and holidays so arrive early if you want to stake out a good spot, or give it a shot on a weekday when it tends to be a little less busy.
North of the main pond is a second large pond and some tide pools further out with deeper and rockier spots and sea urchins along the bottom, so watch where you step. This area can also be subject to dangerous tides and a persistent rip-current, so it is not recommended for children (adults should be cautious here too). Although lifeguards are on duty year-round, during high surf, offshore currents beyond Onekahakaha Beach’s breakwater become extremely dangerous.
Picnic Pavilions with electricity
Take Kamehameha Ave south, at the intersection with Banyan Dr, continue forward onto what becomes Kalanianaole Ave and drive 2 miles along the coast. Turn makai (toward the sea) on Onekahakaha Road, which will take you to the parking lot.