Mauna Kea beach is another beach often ranked as the top in the US (second only to Hapuna Beach which is also found on the Big Island).  It’s super soft white sand, clear blue waters and palm tree shaded picnic areas are everything you could want in a beach in Hawaii.  The beach extends 1/4 of a mile long and offers exquisite swimming conditions and even boogie boarding when the waters are calm.

Snorkeling is another attraction to this beach.  On the south side of the swimming area (left when looking at the waters) there is a reef of rocks.  The fish are attracted to this area as the waters are not so turbulent.  You can expect some quality snorkeling there but don’t venture out too far if the waters are strong.

Along the beach the resort has placed beach chairs and such.  In general these are reserved for the guests of the Mauna Kea Resort so it’s best not to use them unless you are staying at the hotel.

One important fact to know about this beach is that there is limited parking–only 40 spots.  So it’s best to arrive there prior to 10 am.  If for some reason you do not get there in time, you can always park at Hapuna beach and make the trek over.  There’s a rough 1 mile trail on the northern end of Hapuna.  If you choose this option you may want to limit the gear you carry!

Unlike some of the other beaches where you cross through a resort to get there, the restaurant called the Hau Tree is open to the public.   This makes it possible to be there without having to pack your lunch in.


Why You Might Choose Mauna Kea Beach for the Day

  • The beach is more protected so on windy days you don’t get sand blowing in your face
  • Because of the limited parking it limits the number of people, making the beach uncrowded
  • You can walk out in the water a ways and it remains somewhat shallow, meaning it’s especially great for kids, with options for more advanced swimmers to go into the deeper waters


You will find the access to the beach at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel at mile marker 68 on the belt road.  It’s approximately 32 miles north of Kona. 

If you can’t get in via the standard parking, Hapuna Beach is a mile south and has a 1-mile trail that you can access Mauna Kea Beach if you’re willing to make the walk.


  • Parking–Limited to 40 spots
  • Restrooms and showers
  • No picnic tables or such
  • Short walk to beach




Lifeguards:  No
Waves:  Can be calm or strong

Handicapped Accessibility

Yes, up to the beach.  At which point you will need some kind of mobility device to help you with the beach.