Mahai Ula Beach Secluded and rarely crowded, Mahai Ula Beach is a hidden gem accessible via a winding, rugged road. While the road can be quite bumpy, most vehicles can handle the journey with caution.
Nestled amidst a landscape dotted with trees, this stunning white sand beach offers ample shade. The waters here are typically calm, making it an ideal spot for swimming. However, it’s worth noting that the water becomes deep quite close to the shoreline, which might catch young or inexperienced swimmers off guard.
Mahai Ula Beach is a treasure trove of natural wonders. If you bring snorkelling gear, you’ll encounter a myriad of colourful fish and the occasional graceful sea turtle. As you relax on the shore, you can watch planes taking off and landing at the nearby Kona airport. Keep an eye out for herds of goats meandering through the lava fields behind the Mahai Ula Beach. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a group of Hawaiian monk seals basking in the warm sun.
Mahai Ula Beach Information
Nestled on the picturesque Big Island, Mahai’ula Beach is a tranquil and relatively undiscovered gem, boasting a sprawling crescent-shaped shoreline adorned with fine golden sands. This captivating beach is the southernmost of three stunning havens that together constitute the Kekaha Kai State Park in Hawaii. Mahai’ula is a hidden paradise, tucked away from the bustling tourist crowds, offering a serene escape.
With its vast expanse of coastline, Mahai’ula Beach ensures that everyone can find their own perfect spot to unwind. Whether you prefer a cosy spot in the sand or seek refuge under the shade of the lush trees at the top of the dunes, Mahai Ula Beach has something to offer every visitor.
Much like the entire Kona-Kohala coast of the Big Island, Mahai’ula Beach boasts crystal-clear, shimmering blue waters that are simply mesmerizing. Mahai’ula Bay generally enjoys a calm and inviting disposition, making it a splendid place for a refreshing swim.
At the northern end of the Mahai Ula Beach, a small grove of swaying coconut palms adds a touch of tropical charm. From here, a trail beckons adventurous souls, leading across a rugged field of a’a lava to the enchanting Makalawena Beach. Although the 20-minute walk can be hot and arid, the payoff is truly worth it when you reach the pristine white dunes that grace the shores of Makalawena.
Wild goats are often seen roaming through the lava fields behind the beach, lending a sense of wilderness to the landscape. A short distance to the south of Mahai’ula, you’ll discover a delightful beach park replete with picnic tables and breathtaking ocean vistas. This area is most easily accessed by continuing straight from the parking area, as described in the directions below.
Caution is advised when swimming at Mahai’ula Beach, particularly with small children, as the water depth can quickly change just off the shoreline due to its steep entry. Additionally, when the winds pick up, the water can become choppy, and waves can grow unexpectedly large.
Apart from basking in the sun and enjoying the pristine sand, kids and adults alike might find delight in watching jets as they make their landing approach at the nearby Kona airport.
How to Reach Mahai’ula Beach
Kekaha Kai State Park lies just a few miles north of the Kona airport. Access to Mahai’ula Bay can be found at the southern end of the park, located between mile markers 90 and 91 on Highway 19. The road leading to the shoreline is rugged, and filled with bumps and ruts, so it’s wise to proceed with caution, especially if you’re driving a car rather than a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The end of the road is approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the highway. From there, continue on foot to your right (north) for 5-10 minutes until you reach the Mahai Ula Beach.
This access road also leads to Makalawena Beach, making it a convenient choice to plan a visit to both beaches on the same trip and avoid the return drive on the challenging road. Maniniowali Beach (Kua Bay), another part of Kekaha Kai State Park, is located 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north of Mahai’ula.
Mahaiula Beach Overview
Situated within the Kona Coast’s Kekaha Kai State Park, there are three distinct beaches to explore: Makalawena Beach, Maniniowali Beach (Kua Bay), and Mahaiula Beach. Each of these beaches possesses its own unique charm, featuring a blend of black and white sands, secluded tide pools, and stunning seascapes set against the backdrop of the turquoise waters of the Pacific.
The picturesque Mahaiula Beach offers a splendid cove for swimming and wading in its calm and protected bay. The northern end boasts a beautiful stretch of white sand, complete with shaded spots ideal for picnics and relaxation. Heading south, you’ll find a rockier shoreline adorned with lava rocks. This portion of the beach provides barbecue grills and picnic tables, perfect for enjoying a meal by the ocean.
As with much of the Kona-Kohala coastline on the Big Island, the waters at Mahai’ula Beach are incredibly clear, displaying a shimmering blue allure. Swimming and snorkelling opportunities abound, and the expansive beachfront offers ample space for sunbathing and various water activities. Keep an eye out for Hydrofoil Surfers gracefully navigating the swells in the distant waters of Mahaiula Bay.
While the beach’s ocean entry is steep in certain areas, it’s essential to exercise caution, especially when swimming with small children, as the abrupt changes in water depth can catch even the most cautious off guard. Moreover, when the winds pick up, the water conditions can become choppy, and the swells may grow rapidly. Since there are no lifeguards on duty, it’s crucial to stay aware of any shifts in water conditions.
Mahaiula Bay History
Mahaiula Bay also boasts a fascinating history. In the late 1800s, a small fishing village thrived along the shores of Mahaiula Bay, accessible only via foot trails and canoes. It was in this coastal environment that John Kaelemakule was raised, learning the art of fishing and canoeing. His success as a fisherman and entrepreneur enabled him to build a home and acquire approximately 40 acres of land along Mahailua Bay. Today, you can still see the historic, red plantation-style bungalow, complete with an inviting lanai, which was constructed in 1880.
Upon John Kaelemakule’s passing in 1936, the Magoon Family acquired the property for $1,000. With Hawaiian ancestry, the Magoons possessed extensive land holdings throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In the 1960s, an extension was added to the home, connecting a kitchen to the original structure. The Magoon family retained ownership of the land until 1993 when it became the property of the state of Hawaii. In 2014, the home was honoured by being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Directions and Access to Mahaiula Bay:
For those planning a visit to Mahaiula Beach, it’s advisable to arrive early as parking can fill up quickly, particularly on weekends. Kekaha Kai State Park is located just a few miles north of the Kona airport. Access to Mahaiula Bay can be found between mile markers 90 and 91 on Highway 19. The road leading to the shoreline is quite rugged, so it’s essential to drive slowly, especially if you’re in a standard car rather than a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The end of the road is approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the highway. From there, continue on foot to the right (north) for about 5 minutes until you reach the beach.
This access road is shared with Makalawena Beach. Arriving early in the morning allows ample time to explore both Mahaiula and Makalawena beaches on the same day, sparing you the return drive along the challenging road. Given the warm climate along the Kona-Kohala coastline, it’s advisable to pack plenty of fresh water, reef-safe sunscreen, and sun protection, such as a hat or umbrella, to ensure a comfortable and sunburn-free day at the beach.
Hours for use at Mahaiula Beach: Every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Beach Facilities: Restrooms Picnic Area No Fresh Water Mahaiula Beach
Location: (between mile markers 90 and 91) Hawaii 19 96740 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Enjoy your visit to the peaceful Mahai’ula Beach, where the natural beauty of Hawaii comes through.