Makalawena Beach

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In a Nutshell

Makalawena Beach is gorgeous with white silk sand and you’ll have it pretty much all to yourself! Makalawena Beach is a true Big Island hidden gem.  Tourists, as well as locals, venture to other beaches due to the strenuous trek to this beach: 1.5 miles on the desert side of the island! I recommend doing the hike at night, camp overnight, and enjoy the beach in the morning.

Be Aware: I was recently informed that this beach is known for being a “nude beach.”  However, when I was there, I did not see anyone without a bathing suit.



How to Find It

Drive about 2.5 miles north of Kona International Airport and around milemarker 89, you’ll see an unpaved road and, pretty close off the main highway, a gate.  Park at the gate and walk in [the gate will be closed at night].  If you have a four-wheel-drive and feel adventurous, you may want to try and drive in – but be aware that the road is extremely rough! The road forks, but just keep to the left at any intersection and you’ll pop out at a perfect spot for camping.


Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

The Hike In

Walking in is probably what “most” people do [although hardly anyone knows about this gem].  Walking in at night, during a full moon, is the best – night so it’s cool and full moon so you can see.  It’s about a 30 minute or so walk, which isn’t bad in the cool of darkness, but walking through the desert land in the day time feels like hell.  Bring lots of water!!

Where to Camp

If you follow the unpaved road and keep to the left, you’ll come to a perfect spot for camping… a clearing in the trees and in a spot that is not on private property.  If you want to walk a ways down the beach, you’ll be forced to walk across private property.  There is a guy that sleeps in a trailer and keeps an eye on the private beach – you’re not allowed to cross this beach at night but in the day time it’s allowed.




Hike in at night – preferably during a full moon so that you have better lighting.  Camp in the spot right outside of the private property, eat dinner, have fun, and enjoy the starry sky.  In the morning, walk across the tiny private beach to the amazing Makalawena Beach to enjoy silky white sand with NO tourists and kids kicking sand on you.  Jump in the water before you walk back so that you’re nice and cool.  Trust me, you’ll dry in about five minutes.  The desert air is hot and dry and it’s about a 30 minute walk.  Remember to not drink all the water the night before!  Save some water for the walk back!

What to Bring

bathing suit (although, apparently, this is optional here), towel, tent, lots of water, food, a flashlight, and whatever else you may need for a night and a day.

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Read about
how I found out about Makalawena Beach!  I didn’t know about the beach at all and wasn’t planning on staying there until fate took a fortuitous turn!


  1. I don’t see any mention anywhere that this is partly a nude beach. It would have been handy information before I hiked my 12 and 10 year old there. I found out later that this is common knowledge locally and if you ask for directions people automatically assume you are a nudist. we are not. To each his own but a little heads up would have been nice.

    1. Mark,
      Sorry for the lack of heads up – I was unaware that this is a “nude beach.” When I was there, everyone was wearing bathing suits (as was I, for I am not a nudist either). I’ll put a disclaimer in this article – thanks for the information! :)

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