Keawaiki Bay to ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay
Round Trip Mileage: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 85'
Keawaiki is a starkly beautiful South Kohala bay with a lone palm tree on its rocky shore. ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay is a very popular destination with many hotels, shops, and great beach access. This hike is a loop that begins at Keawaiki, travels along the coast to ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay, and then returns to the trailhead via the ancient King's Highway trail. It's also possible to start at ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay for this loop. This hike passes several beautiful beaches, bays, brackish anchialine pools, and even passes a few ki'i pōhaku (petroglyphs) and ancient sites.
Keawaiki Bay and its parking area have no services. ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay public parking is open from 7am - 8pm. It has public showers and restrooms.
Big Island Hikes has a shorter hike that just travels to Keawaiki Bay. See Keawaiki.
Trailhead #1: Mile Marker 79 TH: Travel Hwy. 19 north of Kailua-Kona to ¾ of a mile between Mile Markers 78 and 79, closer to 79. It's just a pull-off near the highway. Do not attempt to drive the road or block the gate near the trailhead – this is private property. Be careful pulling back out into traffic.
Trailhead #2:ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay TH: From Hwy 19, look for signs for both ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay and Waikoloa Beach Drive. Follow Waikoloa Beach Drive past the Queen’s Shops on your left and turn left onto Pae Wa’a for public beach parking. This trailhead is open from 7am to 8pm, and gates are locked at night.
Gear: This hike travels over unforgiving 'aʻā lava and rocky shorelines that can shred inappropriate footwear. Wear sturdy boots. Bring lots of water and sunscreen.
Hike: From the MM79 trailhead (TH1) locate a rough four-wheel drive road heading makai (toward the sea). This is a public access, but it skirts private property. After about a tenth of a mile, notice the ramrod-straight King’s Highway trail that you will use to return later. The King’s Highway was an ancient trail built by hand that traverses this entire part of the island. Walk the road through rough ʻaʻā lava for a little over a half mile, always staying to the north of the posted Private Property. Halfway to the beach, a smaller trail will divert from the 4WD road. This is the public access. Arrive at Keawaiki Bay and its lone palm tree. Follow the contour of the bay past the palm tree and across a short promontory and arrive at Pueo Bay, which has nice swimming in clear waters. From the center of Pueo Bay, locate a faint trail near the back of the beach near a big boulder. This trail leads toward the patches of green you can see offshore. These oases are brackish fresh-and-saltwater pools. The first pools you’ll come to are the Golden Pools of Keawaiki. The gold is a unique algae growing on the ʻaʻā lava pools. Please don’t touch or swim in these pools to preserve this unique ecosystem. If you continue back toward the highway along the trail, you'll find another freshwater pool among some ancient Hawaiian structures. Keep out of the pools and don't touch any ancient sites. After you’re done visiting these unique ecosystems among the ʻaʻā destruction, hike back toward Pueo Bay. Once back at Pueo, continue northward toward Weliweli Point, a promontory with a great vantage both north and south along the Kohala Coast. You're hiking a section of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, which is a 175 mile corridor and trail network of cultural and historical significance. Past Weliweli Point, skirt private property near the beach and come around another promontory. From here, you should see another lone palm tree up the coast – this is your next point of reference for a great brackish lava pool. Continue to hike north along the coast toward Akahu Kaimu Bay, where you will find this other lone palm tree. From the lone palm, hike back from the beach to find a large, freshwater-fed lava pool where you can have a nice, cool dip. It’s deep enough to swim. Refreshed, hike back to Akahu Kaimu Bay and continue northward toward ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay. There is a grove of trees in this stretch of the hike that is overgrown on the beach. At high tide, you’ll have to walk in the ocean past this grove of trees. Next you'll find the beautiful black and white sand Kapalaoa Beach. Despite being within a mile from ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay, Kapalaoa Beach is often shockingly empty. This mile or so of beach has many small bays and inlets that provide for great swimming and snorkeling. As you approach ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay, look closely at the polished lava rocks along the shore for petroglyphs. There are often green sea turtles resting in the tidepools. ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay has two ancient fishponds ringed with palm trees for excellent sunset photos. Once you reach a restaurant and hotel called the Lava Lava Beach Club, walk west and find the parking area for ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay, Trailhead #2. Walk to the southwest corner of the parking area and find a gravel road that travels southeast and then southwest to the King's Highway Trail. The King's Highway will transport you straight as an arrow back to Trailhead #1 at MM79.
It's obviously possible to do this loop in the other direction. The King's Highway Trail is inland and out of the seabreeze, so it can get very hot mid-day. It's also possible to park at ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay (Trailhead #2) and begin the loop there.