Hāpuna Beach to Puakō Bay
Round Trip Mileage: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 100’
This enjoyable hike visits two world-class beaches and ends at gorgeous Puakō Bay. This hike begins at Hāpuna Beach, routinely rated among the best beaches in the entire world with 1/3 mile of sublime white sand. Next up is Waialea Beach, another white sandy gem. Waialea Beach is also known as Beach 69 because its parking area is adjacent to utility pole #69. The hike continues down to Ohai Point, a vantage upon Puakō Bay.
This hike traverses along a lot of private property and development, so it’s not the choice for a real nature experience. However, it is a great way to hike along the developed Kohala coast and visit two of the best beaches on the Big Island.
Trailhead: On Hwy. 19 near mile marker 70, find the signed access road to Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area. Drive 1/4 mile makai (toward the ocean) and park in the large parking area. There is a $5 fee for visitors, but parking is free for residents of Hawai’i. Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area is open from 7am to 8pm daily. It has water, restrooms, showers, camping, and lifeguards.
Gear: Standard hiking gear. The trail is rough, so sturdy shoes are appropriate. Bring plenty of water and sun protection.
Hike: Walk down the hill from the parking area to Hāpuna Beach. Turn south and hike to the back corner of the beach and look sharp for the beginning of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. The trail climbs briefly through vegetation and then drops you into an open grassland area inland and above the ocean. At this point, there are several four-wheel drive roads that travel toward the ocean. Some have fantastic vantage points on Hāpuna. Continue along the trail following ahu (cairns). This part of the trail can be unbearably hot. As you near Waialea Bay, the trail cuts between several homes and then descends to lovely Waialea Beach (Beach 69). Follow Waialea Beach, backed by homes, and find the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail by following signs. It turns away from the beach for a short section and then enters a neighborhood along a concrete ramp. Walk down the road and regain the trail. Quickly find a small beach and bay and then continue on to Puakō Boat Ramp. Cross the road and regain the trail. Cross a broad, lava ringed bay and end at Ohai Point, a great vantage upon Puakō Bay. It’s not possible to keep hiking due to private property. If you want to visit Puakō Bay, walk back to Puakō Boat Ramp and use roads to find public access.