There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.
Awesome, Sumptuous Hapuna Beach
Always rated in the Top 10 of American beaches, Hapuna Beach with it’s crystalline turquoise waters is the premiere beach destination on the Island of Hawai’i. A half-mile long, wide arc of phenomenal coral sand, it has everything one dreams of in a Hawai’ian beach: abundant sun, surf, clean, clear and quiet snorkeling water, palm-tree shade and well-maintained facilities.
North of Kailua Kona along the Kohala Coast, the turnoff to Hapuna Beach is immediately south of the 69 Mile Marker on Highway 19. Follow the signs down to the end of the road, turn left and then right to parking. Parking is impossible after 10 a.m. on weekends and not much better on weekdays. Get there early!
The center of the beach is for wave play and boogie boarding, the north and south coves are quieter, for snorkeling or gentle floating. There is a small coral garden leading to amazing underwater topography and a large reef around the point on the south end of the beach.
Although most of the shore is relatively free of currents, only experienced snorkelers who are strong swimmers will want to snorkel around the south end of Hapuna, past a sea arch and to the reef and cove of Waialea Beach (Beach 69)—a long, but rewarding swim with some of the most incredible underwater vistas available to the snorkeler in the word.
As with all Kohala Beaches, it tends to get windy in the afternoon and there is generally a cloud cover by 2. Don’t fret; go take a hike around the rocks on the south side of the beach to the sea arch, take a nap in the shady grass fields, cook a big barbecue lunch—just be sure to stay here until sunset. I’m not joking. The sunset from Hapuna Beach, with Haleakala on Maui glowing golden-purple in the sea, is by itself worth the price of first class airfare to Hawaii. Do not forget your camera.
Within the park exist several pavilions, barbecues, picnic tables, restrooms, showers and a small vendor with some food and beach supplies. Don’t use the restrooms by the upper parking lot nor the ones on the south side of of the beach. Trust me. There are small camping cabins for rent behind the parking lot available for $30 a night. If you rent one, be prepared to thoroughly swab it out before you occupy it. Lifeguards are on duty sometimes, even though the sign on the north lifeguard tower says “No Lifeguard on Duty”.
Although most patrons must walk about 100 yards down a path from the parking lot, Handicapped Parking exists right on the beach. If you arrive with a lot of gear, it is permissible to drive to the handicapped lot, unload your gear (and leave a person to watch it) then go park in the regular parking.
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All media copyright 2010 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.