One simple pleasure of exploring Hawaii Island’s sunny, lava-drenched west side is discovering a precious nugget like Mahaiula Beach, also known as Kekaha Kai State Park. Make it past the bumpy – but negotiable – semi-paved lava road and you’ll find yourself in an oasis of beauty and variety. The ten minute foot trail to the right of the parking lot will lead you to a sloping, golden sand beach complete with coconut trees, lapping surf and comfortable shady coves for the first-come, first-served. Most of what you’re craving in a half or full-day coastal excursion can be found here: pleasant water, fascinating terrain,
and plenty of coveted personal space. [Note to fellow waveriders: surfing here can be dynamite in the winter.] At the north end of the beach is an abandoned red house once owned by a prominent part-Hawaiian family, before the land was eventually sold to the state.
Also abound are freshwater springs that flow to the surface to form occasional ponds. Walk around a bit and you might see a drove of kao (goats) quietly minding their business on the jagged aa outcroppings. For a heartier stroll, you can continue on a lava footpath leading north to Makalawena, an even more magical and isolated beach. You could also walk south, past the point to Kaelehuluhulu (also called “Second Beach”), where the 1801 Huehue (Hualalai) flow has reformed the coastline and speckled the sand with black granules of lava.
The park is open from 9-8 daily, except for Wednesdays. There are portable toilets and picnic tables, but bring water. No lifeguard services, either. The entrance is marked by a sign between the 90 and 91 mile markers on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway north of Kailua-Kona. Some say the airplanes buzzing overhead are a distraction, but you decide.
About the Author
Charles Bohannan is the Editor of Wordful, an unconventional blog about writing, creativity and publishing. He resides in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii with his wife and 4 children.