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Tag Archives: anaehoomalu

by Donnie MacGowan

69 West Side Beaches 1_edited-1

Waialea Beach (Beach 69) Is a Hidden Gem That Is Just Waiting For You To Explore: 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 balanced and informed decisions on what they want to do and how best to spend their time.

Even choosing the beach you want to spend time on…which beach?  How do you find the right beach for your particular needs?  Are you going just to relax and sunbathe somewhere near your hotel?  Or is the trip to snorkel, boogie board or to explore?  Do you want a beach that’s alive with fun people or one hidden, secluded and empty?  Do you want a beach near your resort or one that’s at the end of a day of delicious wandering?

Kua Bay Sunbathers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay Sunbathers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Ranked in order, with the best on top, are our picks of the best beaches on the Island of Hawaii—we tried to choose beaches with a range of attributes and interesting features, rather than beaches that are all very similar.  Ranking these beaches is an onerous task since each is a gem and we’ve had to leave off many that are equally fine for their own reasons.  This list at least provides an excellent starting point for deciding where you want to spend you beach time.

Hapuna Beach: A mile long, 200 meters wide and with warm, calm, crystal clear-turquoise waters, always one of the top-ranked beaches internationally, Hapuna is clearly the “Alpha Beach” on the island.  Sometimes crowded, this beach is usually fairly empty until about 11 a.m.  A great beach for sunbathing, it has only fair boogie boarding and rather passe snorkeling.

Hapuna Beach from the south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hapuna Beach from the south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Anaeho’omalu Bay: A long crescent of sugary sand backed by swaying palm trees; snorkel, sail, paddle boat and kayak rentals on the beach and interesting hikes both north and south, make Anaeho’omalu is a great place to spend the day for any family.  Anaeho’omalu is one of the most sought-after sunset images to photograph in the state of Hawaii. Although spectacular for its scenery and beach social scene, the water at Anaeho’omalu is a bit cloudy for ideal snorkeling.

The Justly Famous Anaeho'omalu Beach is a Long Crescent of Gorgeous Sand: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Justly Famous Anaeho'omalu Beach is a Long Crescent of Gorgeous Sand: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach: The large, beautiful beach with acres of jet black sand, backed by a jungle of palm trees and with clear waters stuffed with endangered green sea turtles make Punalu’u not just one of the loveliest beaches in the world, but also one of the most interesting.  Although a little cold due to near-shore springs, the clear waters and black sand bottom at Punalu’u offer fabulous and unique snorkeling.  Madly crazy rip tides and strong currents out near the surf zone make Punalu’u a dangerous place for beginning boogie boarders.  There are numerous historic and pre-contact ruins in the area that make this a great place for exploration.

Bradford MacGowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach: Photo By Donnie MacGowan

Bradford MacGowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach: Photo By Donnie MacGowan

Waialea Beach: Another lonely crescent of sugar sand which is relatively unknown, even by many locals, Waialea is generally uncrowded, lovely beyond description, and has a wild underwater features to tempt even the most jaded snorkeler.  Fine snorkel exploring, hiking and scrambling both north and south of the beach yield secret treasures of small coves, private inlets, sea arches and wild underwater topography.

Happy Bathers Relax in the Warm, Crystaline Waters of Waialea Bay: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Happy Bathers Relax in the Warm, Crystalline Waters of Waialea Bay: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Makalawena Beach: Perhaps the loveliest beach in Polynesia, Makalawena is the perfect sand crescent beach backed by palms and iron wood trees and with morning-glory-draped sand dunes.  A easy mile hike in from Kekaha Kai State Park keeps this beach uncrowded. Snorkeling here is better than perfect, camping here is so wonderful we don’t know why it’s not actually mandatory.  The coastline hike a few miles north from Makalawena to Kua Bay along the ancient, paved Ala Ali’i (Trail of Kings) is one of the finest, most rewarding shoreline hikes on the island.

Long, Lonely and Wholly Wonderful Makalawena Beach in Kekahai State Park: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Long, Lonely and Wholly Wonderful Makalawena Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Mahana Green Sand Beach (South Point): One of a handful of true green sand beaches in the world, the Mahana Green Sand Beach near South Point is not to be missed.  Beautiful, haunting, intriguing. Although the hike is 2 ¼ miles each way, the trail is relatively flat and easily followed. Snorkeling here, due to the green sand and vibrant water color is delightfully weird—be sure to purchase an inexpensive, disposable underwater camera.  Scenery is best viewed early morning and afternoon, although afternoons tend to be quite windy.  Swimming is safe in the protected bowl of the bay, but strong, relentless currents in the open ocean call for extreme caution beyond the bay.

Mahana Green Sand Beach in the Afternoon: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Mahana Green Sand Beach in the Afternoon: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kua Bay: One of Hawaii County’s newest beach parks, Kua Bay is a true gem of a beach—although somewhat small, it is a lovely setting with warm waters perfect for snorkeling, boogie boarding or just relaxing in. In recent years, Kua Bay has become Kona’s leading “social beach” with scores of young visitors and locals coming to chill in the sand and sun every day.  Snorkeling is superb on both the north and south ends near the rocks, boogie boarding is great when the surf is up…like all Hawaii’s beaches, Kua can become hazardous in times of high surf.

Kua Bay from the north: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay from the north: Photo by Donald MacGowan

For more information about traveling to Hawaii in general and exploring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com. Information about the author can be found here.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan.

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By Donnie MacGowan

The Men of Tour Guide--Everett Maynard and Frank Burgess: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Men of Tour Guide--Everett Maynard and Frank Burgess: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

On Friday, in observance of the first day of Spring (or perhaps in simple surrender to an early bout of Spring Fever), the Men of Tour Guide decided to ditch the office and go do some field work in Kohala (he means they loaded up the Rav 4 and went on a Road Trip). You can read a site-by-site description of this road trip here.

Before the morning sun had even cleared Hualalai Volcano, we headed north on Highway 19, the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. Waiting for the first blush of spring warmth of the day to arrive, we passed through Kailua Kona, drove by Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park and past Kekahakai State Bach Park hoping to find some early morning light on Anaeho’omalu Bay, near the Hilton Waikoloa Resort.

Anaeho'omalu Bay from the south: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Anaeho'omalu Bay from the south: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Anaeho’omalu (or “A-Bay” as the locals call it) is a stunningly long, perfect crescent of coral sand and is an iconic Hawaii Sunset Photo site. Being there early in the morning, the beach was welcoming in its emptiness.

Anaeho'omalu Bay From The North: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Anaeho'omalu Bay From The North: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Heading back into the now bright morning sunlight, both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, topped with snow, were soaring up in to the spring air.  Although we wanted to capture some video and still photos of the snowy peaks, we pressed on to our next destination, Waialea Beach (or Beach 69, named after the number on the telephone pole at the parking lot).

Anaeho'omalu Bay From The North: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Waialea Beach From The South: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Everett on Waialea Beach, looking south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Everett on Waialea Beach, looking south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Waialea is a more interesting beach than Anaeho’omalu, with clearer water for snorkeling, fewer people and lots of rocks and cliffs to explore.

Leaving Waialea, we took some time to shoot the big, snow-covered volcanoes–our pictures do not do justice to the majesty and uniqueness of snow clad peaks on a tropical island.

Mauna Kea From Pu'u Kohola; note observatories on the summit,almost 14,000 feet above: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Mauna Kea From Pu'u Kohola; note observatories on the summit,almost 14,000 feet above: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Mauna Loa From Kohola: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Mauna Loa From Kohola: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Our next stop was at Hapuna Beach–widely regarded as the finest beach o the island of Hawaii.

Hapuna Beach from the south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hapuna Beach from the south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The beach is over a mile long and the water here is turquoise and very clear. Except at either end where there are rocks, however, the snorkeling is disappointing, as there are few fish (they don’t live over sand–nothing to eat).

Hapuna, Hawai'i's busiest and most popular beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hapuna, Hawai'i's busiest and most popular beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

But for a restful day sunbathing, swimming and just enjoying the water, you cannot beat Hapuna…

Our next stop was at Pu’u Kohola, but we didn’t take any pictures–we just used the restrooms at the National Park. You can see a short video about the temples and the park here. From Pu’u Kohola we went to Lapakahi State Historic Park, the site of a 600 year old Hawaiian Fishing village…again, we didn’t take pictures, but you can see a short video about it here (that’s also me playing ukulele, guitar, bass and tambourine in a early attempt of mine at recording and stacking several tracks of music…).

We pressed on up the Kohala Coast, seeing many Humpback Whales–because they were a ways out to sea, we only got very marginal pictures of them.

Kohala, a Humpback Whale from shore: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kohala, a Humpback Whale from shore: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Next we drove into the Hawi-Kapa’au Twin City Metro Area to visit Everett’s friend Richard and take some photos.

King Kamehameha Statue, Kapa'au: Photo by Donald MacGowan

King Kamehameha Statue, Kapa'au: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Hawi Fisherman's Trophies: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Hawi Fisherman's Trophies: Photo by Donald MacGowan

We next drove out to the end of the road to look at Pololu Valley, and although we didn’t need the photos, we couldn’t help taking some.

The Head of Pololu Canyon on Kohola Mountain: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Head of Pololu Canyon on Kohola Mountain: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Pololu Canyon and Beach: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Pololu Canyon and Beach: Photo by Donald MacGowan

From Pololu Valley we drove out to Keokea State Park–the nearest public restrooms–to eat lunch and there was this incredible surfer dude riding wild waves in very shallow water and not 30 feet from the rock sea wall–seeming very dangerous, his rides were both skillful and beautiful to watch.

Keokea Park and a Very Brave Surfer Dude: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Keokea Park and a Very Brave Surfer Dude: Photo by Donald MacGowan

The next leg of our drive took us up Kohala Mountain on the Kohala Mountain Road…this is actually the place we really needed some photo coverage (it’s usually raining) and we had just stunning weather and views.

Kohala Mountain Road: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kohala Mountain Road: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kohala Mountain Road boulder and field: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kohala Mountain Road boulder and field: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

We drove down the mountain through the cow pastures, decided to skirt Waimea town and headed to the coast where we checked in at Kua Bay to see what was cookin’.

Kohala Mountain Road Sentinels: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kohala Mountain Road Sentinels: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay from the north: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay from the north: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay is a lovely, but tiny, dot of white sand caught in a crescent-shaped pocket along the rough, raw lava coastline of North Kona. It wasn’t quite time to light the barbecues when we got there, but we definitely found “what’s cookin'”

Kua Bay Sunbathers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay Sunbathers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

As the locals say: “Lucky we live Hawaii”, eh?

A fully described scenic drive with road log for this trip is available; please go here.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, please visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.