Mahukona Beach 

Mahukona Beach is not your typical Hawaiian paradise. You won’t find white sand, swaying palms or soft sunsets here. Instead, you’ll be greeted by an otherworldly scene of abandoned antique mill equipment, a dilapidated pier and underwater ruins. Mahukona Beach has a rustic charm, and it’s not to be missed during a visit to The Big Island.

Make sure to bring a snorkel, an underwater camera and some sturdy water shoes when you visit this unique destination. This shutdown commercial harbor was once operated by the Kohala Sugar Company. The company ended operations all the way back in 1956, but its antiquated equipment has simply been abandoned here. 

You’ll find rusting mill equipment along the rock wall that serves as the perimeter of the harbor. This evidence of an enterprising pass makes for a great photo, but it’s nothing compared to what you’ll find underwater. Just take your time getting into the water because there is no sandy beach to be found.

Near the dilapidated pier, you’ll find a stairway of sorts that leads you down into the clear water of the harbor. The natural “stairway” is made up of lava rock, so you don’t have to worry about any sudden drop-offs. You simply have to worry about the sharp, craggy and unforgiving lava rocks. Make sure to wear water shoes or sandals to save yourself from a few scratches.

The water in the harbor is stunningly clear which makes Mahukona Beach perfect for snorkeling. You’ll immediately be surrounded by colorful reefs and tropical fish, but you’ll want to explore the area a bit. You’ll find a shipwreck as well as rusting underwater machinery tucked in between the reefs. It makes for a surreal picture that is definitely worthy of sharing on social media.

There is no lifeguard at this “beach.” In fact, it’s not even a beach. This leaves your safety up to you. The water here is generally good for swimming and snorkeling, but it can be rather unsafe during the winter time. You can always check surf reports online, but, if you have any doubts about entering the lava rock-fringed water, you should stay out. The underwater treasures aren’t going anywhere, and you can see them another day.

This funky little beach park is nestled on the northwest shore of The Big Island. Drive north on Highway 19 out of Kona before turning left onto Highway 270 at Waikui. Drive another 11.5 miles before turning left onto Mahukona Beach Park just after passing Lapakahi State Historical Park.

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Price range: Free
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Waimea, Big Island