From beaches and bays close to Kailua Town, to hidden gems and secret spots throughout the leeward district of the Big Island, Kona, Hawaii, offers myriad opportunities to explore the many unparalleled geological attractions unique to the largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking to remote spots to view marine mammals like sea turtles and spinner dolphins, ancient ponds formed by lava flows and sandy beach coves that are often deserted with nary a tourist in sight.
Soak in an Ancient Queens' Bath
Fed by brackish water from the mountain slopes, queens' baths are natural pools that occur in shoreline lava fields on the Big Island. One of the finest examples is located just one mile north of Keahole International Airport in Kona, at Makalawena Beach. To get there, hike for 20 minutes from Kekaha Kai beach parking lot (which can be accessed from Queen Kaahuman Highway at mile marker 90) across a rough lava trail. Surrounded by coco palms, the queen's bath is located behind the sandy dunes approaching the main beach.
Float with Turtles
In Kona, green sea turtles frequent shorelines reefs and beaches, none more prolific than Keei Beach in South Kona. Located just south of Kealakekua Bay, one mile down Puuhonua Beach Road, Keei Beach can be reached by hiking or driving down a remote dirt road that hugs the shoreline. Dozens of turtles can be seen floating on top of the shallow water, which can be easily traversed if you float just above the reef on the water's surface. Remember, it is illegal to touch or harass green turtles, so enjoy them from a distance.
Hike to a Remote Beach
One of the few black sand beaches in Kona, Honomolino is also one of the most remote. Located a short hike from Milolii Village off Highway 11 at mile marker 89 in South Kona, Honomolino Bay presents generally calm waters, a secret white-sand cove, plentiful coconut groves and pods of spinner dolphins that frequent the area.
Kayak Keauhou Bay
Located at the south end of Ali'i Drive in Keauhou-Kona just south Kailua Town, Keauhou Bay is a small boat harbor that offers plentiful parking along King Kamehameha III Drive, and easy access into the water from a sandy bay. Home of the Keauhou Canoe Club, the bay also presents picnic areas, public restrooms and outdoor showers.