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Ke-awa-iki Beach

big island/kailua kona

Highway 19, between mile marker 79 & 78,
Kailua-Kona, 96740

Tide Pools, Lava Rock


Hours of Operation:

Tide Pools, Lava Rock

Ke-awa-iki Beach

The Big Island's Black Sand Beach

Ke-awa-iki Beach, a hidden gem on the western coast of the island, remains a well-kept secret due to its challenging access, ensuring it is never crowded. This unique black sand and gravel-fringed bay is a true treasure, known to only a few on the island. To reach this secluded paradise, you embark on a 15-minute walk along a lava road for half the journey and a rugged 'a‘a trail to the right of the fence for the other half.

The bay's southern area offers clear waters, providing excellent snorkeling opportunities when the sea is calm. However, be cautious of underwater currents. A little shade and the occasional swing hanging from a tree make it a pleasant spot to relax. The best snorkeling experience can often be found at the bay's center.

If you continue walking past the southern edge of the bay, you'll discover numerous tide pools on an older, smoother pahoehoe lava shelf during low tide. Be sure to wear water shoes when exploring this area. Beyond these tide pools, you'll come across salt deposits formed from evaporated seawater, attracting goats from the inland dry scrub who visit to lick the salt from the rocks.

On the right (northern) side of Ke-awa-iki Bay, you'll find Pueo Bay, characterized by black pebbles and suitable for calm-day swimming. Freshwater springs offshore create subtle disturbances in the water, noticeable as underwater distortions. This bay is typically deserted, offering a serene escape. Note that there's no shade here, as it's backed by an 'a‘a field.

For those with a penchant for extended strolls, you can walk past Weliweli Point and follow an inland lava road that eventually loops back to the highway. Mauka of Pueo Bay, you'll encounter some exquisite golden pools.

Both of these charming beaches were formed in 1859 when 'a‘a lava from Mauna Loa flowed down and met the ocean, resulting in black sand. While the eruption covered only half of the bay, there are traces of white sand remaining at the southern end, illustrating the slow, natural redistribution of newer black sand. The entire area has a desolate yet enchanting ambiance, making it one of the lesser-known beaches on the west side of the island.

One aspect that slightly mars this pristine environment is the Brown Estate, located in the central part of the beach, with its intimidating barbed wire fence, giving the area an unwelcoming atmosphere. The estate once belonged to Francis I‘i Brown, a highly influential and beloved Hawaiian businessman in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, the transformation of his estate into a historical landmark has somewhat diminished its charm. The estate offers limited tours lasting a few hours, but only on the third Tuesday of every month, creating some inconvenience. Ke-awa-iki Beach is located 20 miles north of Kailua-Kona, shortly after mile marker 79, providing a serene escape from the crowds.

Ke-awa-iki BeachThe Big Island's Black Sand BeachKe-awa-iki Beach, a hidden gem on the western coast ....

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