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by Donald B. MacGowan

Aerial View of Kiholo Bay, Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Aerial View of Kiholo Bay, Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Whether you visit the Big Island for a few days, a couple weeks or a few months, you want to make the most of your time in Paradise. With such a wide variety of natural and commercial attractions, it is natural for the visitor to get a little overwhelmed in the “Option Overload” and not be able to make a balanced and informed decision on what they want to do and how best to spend their time.

Sunset View of Haleakala on Maui From Kiholo Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Sunset View of Haleakala on Maui From Kiholo Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Even choosing which beach you want to spend time or where you want to hike can be an exercise in confusion and conflicting advice.  Clearly, visitors to Hawaii could use help making quality decisions about how best to spend their time.

All that remains of a mile-long fishpond that was destroyed by flowing lava are these gorgeous, turquoise brackish ponds: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

All that remains of a mile-long fishpond that was destroyed by flowing lava are these gorgeous, turquoise brackish ponds: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Tour Guide Hawaii is excited and proud to announce the release of their new GPS/WiFi enabled App for iPhone and iPod that helps you navigate your trip to Hawaii with hours of informative, location-aware video and information. Although our video guide will lead you to dozens of unusual, untamed and unspoiled spots, let’s look at one, hidden but gorgeous, beach hike you would otherwise not find if you did not have Tour Guide Hawaii’s new App.

Kiholo Bay on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kiholo Bay on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kiholo Bay Beach Hike

Snorkeling, country music history ancient fish ponds and medical science…what more could anyone ask for? One of West Hawaii’s best kept secret is gorgeous, amazing Kiholo Bay, those heavenly, turquoise waters and swaying palms you can’t quite glimpse clearly from the overlook at mile marker 82 on the Hawaii Belt Road.

The View of Kiholo Bay From the Hawaii Belt Road: Photo  by Donald B. MacGowan

The View of Kiholo Bay From the Hawaii Belt Road: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Dirt road into Kiholo Bay, just south of the 82 mile marker on the Hawaii Belt Road: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Dirt road into Kiholo Bay, just south of the 82 mile marker on the Hawaii Belt Road: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

This remarkable, beautiful and sadly popular area is accessed in two ways; first, by a gravel road going ocean-ward from the highway immediately south of the Overlook pullout at mile marker 82. This road is only open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but accesses the south end of the bay, a pebbly beach terminated in austere a’a flows to the south. The round house on the beach was built by country and western singer Loretta Lynn, but was condemned and taken by the State when it created the beach park. Swimming and boogie boarding here are excellent in low to moderate surf, but beware of current and surginess; if the surf is high, do not go in.

Kiholo Bay, Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kiholo Bay, Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A trail south below the big mansion on the headland leads about three quarters of a mile to a tiny black sand beach with an amazing coral garden. This little beach is my favorite snorkeling secret on the island.

The road south from Kiholo Bay dead ends at an elaborate mansion; from there a trail can be taken around the headland to a remarkable black sand cove that provide gorgeous, if exposed, snorkeling: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The road south from Kiholo Bay dead ends at an elaborate mansion; from there a trail can be taken around the headland to a remarkable black sand cove that provide gorgeous, if exposed, snorkeling: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A 4WD road/trail continues north along the black pebble beach and cliffs to Kiholo Bay proper. This part of the Kiholo Area can also be accessed via a trail (used to be a dirt road) that leaves the parking lot immediately south of mile marker 81. Along the 4WD trail, on the mauka (uphill) side, is a freshwater spring and pond in a lava tube (Keanalele Water-hole), a great place to rinse off after swimming or hiking along the beach. Please rinse off excess suncream in the ocean before enjoying this refreshing pool.

Keanalele Water-hole, a freshwater Queen's Basth in a lava tube, near Kiholo Bay, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Keanalele Water-hole, a freshwater Queen's Basth in a lava tube, near Kiholo Bay, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Also along this portion of the beach are a number of mansions, most notably the Bali House (oh, you’ll know it when you see it) and the home of Earl Bakken, the billionaire inventor of the pace maker. Believe the no trespassing signs you see here. On clear days, views of Mauna Kea from this part of the beach are stunning.

There are some amazing multi-million dollar mansions along the beach; believe the "no-trespassing" signs: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

There are some amazing multi-million dollar mansions along the beach; believe the "no-trespassing" signs: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Just north of Kiholo Bay is a beautiful, turquoise brackish lagoon, all that remains of a 2-mile long fishpond erected by Kamehameha the Great around 1810, which was destroyed by the Mauna Kea lava flow of 1859. The water can be a might cloudy for snorkeling, but it’s full of turtles and, on calm days, has one amazing attribute. If wind is not driving surge-mixing of these ponds, lighter, fresh water from springs will float on top of the heavier salt water. This fresh/salt water interface produces a refractive lens that creates interesting and amazing optical tricks for the snorkeler.

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, or Honu, Suns Herself at Kiholo Bay on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, or Honu, Suns Herself at Kiholo Bay on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Full of turtles, beautiful to swim and a wonderful place to learn to surf, Kiholo Bay proper has it all. In addition, the sweat required to reach it has the added bonus of weeding out the undesirables. Please remember not to approach or harass the turtles. Dolphin (and humpback whale in season) frequent this bay—it is also illegal (and stupid) to harass them. Be careful to pack out everything you packed in, and help the environment by picking up that other guy’s litter, as well.

The Brackish Lagoons of Kiholo Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGown

The Brackish Lagoons of Kiholo Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

As of this writing, camping is not being allowed at Kiholo Bay, although many people do camp here…be advised that the road is locked at night and you will not be able to leave.

A relaxed lifestyle is enjoyed by the few, but extremely wealthy, residents of Kiholo Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A relaxed lifestyle is enjoyed by the few, but extremely wealthy, residents of Kiholo Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

The View of Mauna Kea From Kiholo Bay, Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The View of Mauna Kea From Kiholo Bay, Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

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One Comment

  1. I viewed this beautiful bay and the Wiananali i Pond from the air as we left the Big Island over 30 years ago when my wife and I first visited the Big Island. We recently met up with two other couples from our past and enjoyed 10 days on the island. The day before we left I and my wife took the road to Kiholo Bay and then hiked the beach to a spot past he houses where we stopped, enjoyed a small picnic lunch and I proceeded on to experience the pond. The wind was blowing at about 25knotts, the trees were waving yet the surface of the pond was placid. I swam across the pond. The water seemed noticably cooler than the rest of the bay. What a treat to have the experience!

    I would love to go back and buy or even rent one of the houses or a lot on the Kiholo Bay.

    This is truely one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.


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