The Honeymoon Files: Big Island Beaches

We spent much of our honeymoon doing what anyone does in Hawaii - hanging out on beaches.  An inner flap at the back of our guidebook (The Big Island Revealed) had a list of the fifteen best beaches on the Big Island.  I think in the beginning, we thought we might make it to at least a good portion of them.  But we only got to five.  One of those was the Kapoho Tide Pools, which I talked about yesterday in the snorkeling post, but which I'm not mentioning here because it's not really a beach in any normal sense of the word.

So why did we only get to five?  Well, for starters, the Big Island is... big.  We did a lot of driving to get around, and at some point, we had to accept that we simply didn't have the daylight hours to spend a meaningful amount of time at each of the beaches.  Also, my darling wife is a bit of a boogie boarding fanatic, so once we found an excellent boogie boarding spot close to our resort, we kept returning there.  Even so, I'm not sure we would have made it to some of those other beaches since they were a lot further away, and some of them required a long hike in, adding to the time element.

But we were completely pleased with the beaches we did hang out on, so here they are.

Kahalu'u Beach Park

You might remember Kahalu'u Beach Park from yesterday's snorkeling post.  It's where we saw most of the turtles on the trip and where all of my underwater turtle photos came from.  But it also has a small beach and we hung out on the sand for a bit both times we snorkeled.

While it's an excellent spot for snorkeling, it's the least inviting for beach-lounging of any of the beaches we visited.  The sand is a little less fine, and it's very close to the highway, so there's a lot of noise from the road.   And because of all the reefs out in the water, you don't get that view of the waves hitting the sand that I really love.

But it was a fine place to enjoy lunch or read a bit while we dried off from a turtle rendezvous.

That's our little beach set-up.  We didn't originally have an umbrella, but we made our 89th trip to a store for supplies to grab one after my unfortunate sunburn debacle.

We spent a shocking amount of time at big box stores on the Big Island.  In fact, we visited Walmart, K-mart, and Target - some of them more than once.  We went originally our first day there to get boogie boards, sunscreen, and some snorkel gear for me.  Navah already had her own snorkel gear, and buying some for me ended up being much more cost-effective than renting either for the whole time we were there or at each place we snorkeled.

We kept joking that we couldn't go a day without going shopping because then we had to go for aloe and an umbrella, and then neosporin and bandaids after Navah cut herself on some rocks, and then for some sunglasses, and then to pick up the second book of The Hunger Games series.  You know, the essentials.

Magic Sands Beach

Magic Sands was our prime boogie boarding spot.  We visited on our first beach day after snorkeling at the Kahalu'u Beach Park.  They're about a five-minute drive away from each other, so it was an easy pairing.

The beach is just a short strip of sand, and it gets its name because during the winter, all the sand that's there now will be washed out to sea, leaving only lava rocks.  When summer rolls around, the ocean will deposit it all back there again. Pretty amazing.

Also amazing - the size of the waves here.

Navah taught me about boogie boarding early on in our relationship, and I'm so glad she did.  When you've got good waves, it's such a thrill!  And I love just hanging out in the water with the board, chatting and waiting for the next ride in.

The waves at Magic Sands were incredible.  I knew we'd come back after the first day because we had such an amazing time.  In fact, we came back twice. The second time we were there right after high tide on a weekend, and there were so many people in the water and the waves were so high, we were actually a little afraid to go in.  The locals have no such fear, and people are boogie boarding in such cramped quarters that there are bound to be collisions.  And there were.

We were involved in some of them.

On that second afternoon, we left after I got pummeled particularly badly by a wave I misjudged and did somersaults underwater with someone else.  I never figured out who it was, but if you tangled my legs up with theirs, I'm sure I'd recognize them.  As soon as I tried to stand up, I was brought down again. Once I made it out of the water, my head felt a little woozy in a way that worried me, so we headed home for the day.

But I was totally fine, and we ended our afternoon there again the next day.  It was the perfect pre-dinner activity.  Just an hour or so riding the waves, then showers, and off to eat.

One final note about Magic Sands Beach - on one occasion, we were riding the waves with a turtle!  There was a big guy - the biggest I saw on the trip - just floating around, coming in and out with the waves, making his way across the beach.  It actually hit Navah in the leg with its flipper!

Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach, named one of the best beaches in the nation, is where we did most of our lounging.  The water's fairly calm, so boogie boarding isn't that great.  What you want to do mostly is either hang out in it or just sit staring at it.  The colors are exquisite.  And the sand is so fine and beautiful.

The first day we were there, they were having some sort of crazy wind that whipped you raw with sand, so we arranged ourselves pretty far back from the water and in a little rock cove where we were protected from the blowing sand and there was a tree for shade.  Or so we thought - that's the day I got terribly sunburned.

We ended up going twice because Mauna Kea Beach, another on the best beaches list, is close by but has only thirty parking spots.  When we tried to go, they were all full (and there's an attendant, so we couldn't just randomly park anywhere), so we headed back over to Hapuna.  With no wind, we sat right up close to the water and had a wonderful afternoon.

Kua Bay

Kua Bay was another beauty.  We spent an afternoon lounging here and even did a little snorkeling.  I didn't mention it in the snorkeling post because it's less of a snorkeling area and more of a beach-lounging area.  The snorkeling's pretty limited, but I did see a turtle and followed it around for a bit.  But I didn't bring my underwater camera with me out there, so no photos. 

Mostly we just lounged and read our books here and floated in the water. It was more of a local hangout than Hapuna Beach, with some folks chatting on cell phones, radios playing, and families having barbeques. 

One of the cool things about Kua Bay is the drive going in.  It really shows how desolate the landscape looks.  And then all the sudden, you're somewhere ridiculously beautiful.

Waipio Valley Black Sand Beach

The day we hiked down into Waipio Valley is a whole other post because that place was magnificient.  But I'm including the black sand beach here since it's gorgeous.  I'd never been to a black sand beach, and I'll admit that I was a little disappointed when we walked up because someone had told me that it sparkled like diamonds.  And to me, it looked basically like dirt.

But then when we walked in some more and got to the part where the tide had come in, and the sand was wet and glistening.  Maybe not like diamonds, but it was certainly beautiful.

We hadn't brought anything for swimming because our guidebook mentioned that the surf was generally too rough for that here.  It's possible we could have stepped in and waded around a bit, but we opted just to enjoy the beauty of it and our smallness against that vast ocean.

I'm hoping one day we'll travel to another Hawaiian Island, and I'm guessing we'll see gorgeous beaches there, but I'll be surprised if they top these. 

But then maybe that's just the honeymoon talking...


If you'd like to catch up on The Honeymoon Files:

The Honeymoon Files: The Big Island
The Honeymoon Files: Snorkeling on the Big Island