The Big Island doesn’t have an overabundance of great swimming strands — although at last count she had about 80 beaches. The swimming beaches she does have, though, are doozies or at least quite unusual. Around the island, you’ll have a choice between white or golden sand, black or green, and salt and pepper. Here on the Kona Coast, which boasts the Big Island’s top three swimming beaches, they’re perfect golden crescents.
Hapuna Beach, at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resory, Mauna Kea area. A whopping half mile long and quite wide, this golden crescent is one of the best in the entire state for swimming and snorkeling — in summer! In winter, the gradual slope of the bay gives way to waves that can pester the shoreline. Lava outcroppings cap the north and south edges; the northern boundary has a little cove with tide pools. Given this beach’s preeminent stature, it’s always surprising that it isn’t more overrun.
Mauna Kea Beach (aka Kaunaoa Beach), at the Mauna Kea area. Nothing, not even an upscale resort located on its edge, can take away from the splendor of this near-perfect beach. The white crescent is generally calm for swimming year-round and attracts manta rays in the evening (thanks to hotel floodlights that draw the gentle creatures) and sea turtles by day. It’s bookended by lava-rock promontories, which attract colorful fish.
‘Anaeho‘omalu Beach (aka A-Bay), at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. The best Waikoloa area beach (and one of the Big Island’s top three) offers great swimming, snorkeling, lots of water activity rentals, and lots of palm trees. It rarely gets more picture-perfect. A-Bay has the added bonus of being surrounded by ancient fishponds and petroglyphs. At the southern end, snorkelers can watch endangered sea turtles.