Kuki'o Beach

Follow the soft white sands north of Kikaua Beach and you’ll end up strolling along the rocky shoreline of Kukio Beach. This semi-private little stretch of sand is perfect for a romantic sunset walk, but it’s not a very good swimming beach. You’ll find abundant lava rocks underfoot as you enter the water. Water shoes are recommended if you plan on wading out into the bay.

You’re likely to find resting sea turtles along the warm white sands of Kukio Beach. Remember -- it is illegal to touch sea turtles in the state of Hawaii, and law enforcement officers are eager to enforce the rule. Take your selfie from a distance to avoid a costly ticket. Plus, the oils in your skin can degrade the turtle’s shell which will weaken its defenses and may lower its life expectancy. 

You’ll find a small break in the rocks on the south end of the beach. This is the best spot for entering and exiting the water, but the rocky shore still makes for poor swimming and snorkeling. Only venture into the water if you have sturdy water shoes and you want to leave the crowded waters of Kikaua behind.

Kukio Beach features great fishing, so don’t be surprised if you find a few locals casting a line into the water. In the winter, when the waves get high, you might also find some surfers and boogie boarders. But you should leave those activities to the experienced locals. If you want to ride the waves, then it’s best to find safer water.

Kukio Beach is perfect for a picnic. The beach is lined with palm, mesquite, ironwood and kiawe trees to give the sand plenty of shade. And with poor swimming, you won’t find many people on this beach. You might even be able to get a sunset all to yourself.

Finding this beach is a bit of a hassle because you have to go through the Hualalai Four Seasons Hotel. If you’re stopped by security, just tell them that you want to head on down to the beach. They’ll be happy to give you a day parking pass and show you where to park. Even the security guards live Aloha on the islands.

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Price: Free
Kailua-Kona, Big Island