Over 600,000 years ago, the youngest—and last of the eight Hawaiian islands—formed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as a result of volcanic activity. Today, the island of Hawaii, or Big Island as it’s commonly referred to, is primarily known for its active volcanoes, ancient Hawaiian sites and lush rainforests.
And, of course, we cannot forget its varied coastline. From the clear shallow blue waters perfect for snorkeling at Kapalaoa Beach to the idyllic black sands of Punalu’u Beach, the Big Island beaches make up some of Hawaii’s top Instagrammable beaches.
Here are five of the best family-friendly beaches the Big Island has to offer. Get ready for a fun adventure and be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen.
Old Kona Airport State Park
From a former airport landing strip to a laid-back family-friendly locale, the Old Kona Airport park has something to offer every member of your family, no matter how small. Begin your day with the little ones by exploring the marine life in the tide pools or surfing and snorkeling the northern section of the quiet beach. And with a wide variety of kid-friendly amenities, including picnic tables, showers, and several recreation fields, you can spend the afternoon picnicking on fresh poke, Hawaiian-style macaroni salad, and musubis from the local grocery store.
Onekahakaha Beach Park
After a morning spent chasing waterfalls on the east side of the Big Island, head to Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo for an afternoon of fun in the warm Hawaiian sun. Even though it lacks a white sand beach area, Onekahakaha is still considered to be one of the most family-friendly Big Island beaches located in Hilo. Because in addition to having lifeguards on duty, the shallow clear blue waters protected by breakwaters makes for a safe swimming and snorkeling adventure for the little ones.
La’aloa Beach Park
Popular among the locals for its small, smooth waves, this Kailua-Kona beach is ideal for swimming in the area’s turquoise blue waters as well as teaching the young ones how to bodyboard and bodysurf for the first time. In the winter, the white sands disappear overnight thanks to the tidal shifts, earning its alternate moniker "Magic Sands" Beach.
One of the best beaches for activities for kids on the Big Island, Anaehoomalu Bay, or 'A Bay' as the locals call it, is the place to go on the island if you want to spend the day kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. This bustling white-sand beach is also home to two fish ponds providing a glimpse into life in ancient Hawaii. And, for the outdoor enthusiasts in the family, a casual hiking trail at the south end of the beach takes you past tide pools, basking sea turtles, and petroglyph-carved lava rock to Kapalaoa Beach, a near-empty cove with clear azure blue waters that are perfect for snorkeling.
Perhaps one of the most iconic of all Big Island beaches, Punalu’u, is known for its charcoal black sand, a result of the island’s constant volcanic activity. While the rough waters may not be suitable for swimming, the beach offers one of the more popular activities for kids on the big island: turtle watching. A federally protected species, the Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu in Hawaiian) love to bask in the sun on the shores—just be sure not to touch or feed them while you observe these gentle marine animals.
Are you and your family heading to the Big Island? Find the perfect vacation condo for your lifestyle here.