Hapuna Beach Park, sitting on the northwest coast of The Big Island, is one of Hawaii's gems. Simply drive north on Highway 19 from Kona, take a left at Hapuna Beach Road and you're there. You'll have to pay a small parking fee, but $5 is a small price for this spectacular beach.
The west coast of the Big Island is perhaps the most reliable place in all of Hawaii for a sunny day. After all, Kona sits right in the middle of this dry and hot area, and Kona translates to leeward. The sailing term means the “side of the island least likely to see a storm.” You can count on blue skies, plenty of sun and warm temperatures during your visit to Hapuna Beach Park.
The beach park itself is an oasis in a field of black volcanic rocks. You'll walk through the cooling shade of palm trees before you emerge on the half-mile white sand beach, and unbelievably blue water await just beyond.
Feel free to throw down your beach towel under the shade of trees at the back of the sand. You want to limit your direct sun exposure during your Hawaiian vacation. The shade will also allow you to put your sunscreen on effectively. You want to apply your first layer of 30+ SPF sunscreen in the shade 15 minutes before exposure to the sun. And you want to re-apply in the shade every two hours.
Hapuna Beach Park features plenty of amenities. So much so, that you won't ever feel the need to leave this wonderful area. You'll find bathrooms, showers, barbecues, food vendors and gear rental huts. You can rock up to Hapuna Beach Park, rent snorkel gear, boogie boards, kayaks, paddle boards and anything else you might need for a fun day on the beach.
And you'll need that snorkel gear for the crystal clear waters of Hapuna Beach. Novice snorkelers like to congregate at the north end of the beach where there's a shallow cove. But experienced snorkelers head to the south end of the beach underneath the cliffs for the small coral reef and abundant tropical fish.
Locals like to jump from the cliffs at the south end of the beach, but this is not recommended for tourists. Only attempt the jump if you are fit, the water at Hapuna is calm and locals have demonstrated that it is safe. And you'll need to be confident in your swimming ability for when you hit the water.
The sandy bottom of Hapuna Beach gently slopes into the ocean. This makes the beach perfect for a safe swim. If there are waves, they are perfect for boogie boarding and body surfing. The waves at Hapuna will not break short, so you don't have to worry too much about injury.
And this picturesque beach is perfectly situated to watch a sunset off the west coast. You can watch as the sun dips into the water to create warm oranges and reds. Then, as the night draws near, the sky turns a soft purple as the stars begin to peak through the haze of the day. And the beach is bookended by two rocky outcroppings. These outcroppings make for a dramatic black silhouette against the soft colors of the sunset, and they are capable of giving your social media-worthy picture some scale. Everyone looking at the pic, no matter how small the screen, will understand the grandeur of Hapuna, The Big Island and Hawaii herself.