Richardson’s Beach Park, also known as Richardson’s Ocean Park, sits just east of the Hilo Airport. It’s a quick drive, and this beach park is perfect for a young family. The park features tide pools that are perfect for exploring with small children, and the tide pools keep the keiki away from the open ocean.
There’s a small black sand beach that lets you into the water gradually, and lava rocks have formed around the beach to create a protected cove. The beach park makes for the perfect family excursion, but you’ll need to take at least one precaution. Black sand, despite all of its ethereal beauty, is actually quite rough underfoot. It is made up of lava rock that has been smashed, torn and shattered to pieces by the surf, and many of the pieces have sharp edges. Make sure to bring sandals, or, better yet, water shoes down to the beach park to protect your feet.
You’ll also want to bring your snorkel mask. Snorkeling is the most popular activity at Richardson Beach Park, and you’ll discover why as soon as you dip underwater. There are a myriad of tropical fish waiting in the shallows of the beach’s fringing reef, and the protected bay makes for calm snorkeling conditions.
Calm conditions are important for two reasons. The first, and most obvious, is your safety. You don’t want to be thrown into the reef or the lava rock by the current. Secondly, calm conditions lead to clear water. Currents and waves can kick up sand to make the water murky, and your snorkeling experience less than spectacular.
You’ll also notice a little tingle when you dip into the water. Richardson Beach Park is surrounded by freshwater springs that bubble up underneath the ocean. The springs mix cold water with the warm ocean water, and you might just swim through a cold pocket to get some goosebumps. It adds to the beach’s sensory theater.
Surrounding the beach, you’ll find tide pools and even some freshwater pools fed by springs. Out beyond the protection of the bay, you’ll find plenty of waves that are worthy of a good surfing session, but you shouldn’t venture out there unless you have a lot of surfing experience.
You’ll also find plenty of shade at the beach park which makes it even more perfect for young families. The entire beach park is fringed with tall, shady trees, and you want to be out of direct sun exposure during high noon between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. It’s the perfect time to pull the crew out of the water for a picnic lunch.
To get to Richardson Beach Park, simply drive east out of Hilo on Kalanaina’ole Avenue past Carlsmith Beach Park, also known as Four Mile Beach Park. You’ll find the well signposted Richardson Beach Park near the end of the road past the airport.