Kekaha Kai State Park
Round Trip Mileage: 0.4 or 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 175'
Pu'u Ku'ili is an old cinder cone that is an obvious landmark as you drive Hwy. 19 north of Kona. Although it is only 342 above sea level, it is far higher than all the land around it, giving a commanding view over all of Kekaha Kai State Park and the Kona-Kohala Coast in general. It's an easy place to get for sunrise or sunset for a jaw-dropping experience. You can hike to the top from either the north or the south. Neither is much of a commitment. Take a look at our page for Kekaha Kai State Park if you're looking for a longer hike or for other destinations in the area.
Kekaha Kai State Park is a large and relatively undeveloped beach park north of Kailua-Kona. Formerly known as Kona Coast State Park, the name Kekaha Kai comes from the Hawaiian phrase ke kaha kai, meaning "the shore line." This region has some of the best beaches on the island. Kekaha Kai State Park is open 8am - 7pm every day except Wednesdays.
Trailhead #1: Take Hwy. 19 north of Kailua-Kona and Kona International Airport. The paved road to Kua bay is between mile markers 88 and 89, closer to mile marker 88. Follow this paved road for about a half mile until you pass Pu'u Ku'ili to your right. Just on the other side of the Pu'u, look sharp on the left to spot a small parking area with some gravel. Or, simply continue down the paved road to Kua Bay parking area and walk the road.
Trailhead #2: Take Hwy. 19 north of Kailua-Kona and Kona International Airport. The dirt road to Makalawena Beach is located just south of the paved road to Kua Bay, between mile markers 88 and 89. 2WD vehicles can park just off of the highway before the road begins to get rough.
Gear: Standard hiking gear. The trail is rough, so sturdy shoes or boots are appropriate. Bring plenty of water and sun protection.
From the North (Trailhead #1): From the small gravel parking area, try to find a faint trail through coastal forest and access the western ridge of the summit side of Pu'u Ku'ili. There is a faint trail going up the dry Pu'u directly to the summit. It is only 0.2 mile from the parking area with 175' of elevation gain.
From the South (Trailhead #2): From wherever you parked along the 4WD road to Makalawena Beach, look sharp for a faint trail departing from the 4WD road before it begins to head southwest toward Makalawena beach. Follow this faint trail as it skirts around the western side of Pu'u Ku'ili. When this faint, loose trail starts to head for a saddle between the two summits of the Pu'u, find another faint trail that heads for the higher 342 foot summit. Enjoy the views. This hike is 1.4 miles round-trip if you park just off the highway and 155 feet of elevation gain.