The Big Island, Hawaii; Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail (Hapuna Beach to Mauna Kea Beach)


In my previous post The Big Island, Hawaii; Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail (King’s Trail & petroglyphs, Waikoloa), I wrote about the volcanic King’s Trail, which forms part of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

The Ala Kahakai is actually a 175 mile trail network, formed 20 years ago to help protect the areas of cultural significance and delicate ecosystems around the island, and is accessible from various sections within the four National Parks.  You can read about the trail on the NPS website here

To experience a completely different part of the trail, we left the black volcanic landscape behind, and headed to the beautiful white sandy Hapuna beach, on the North West of the Big Island. Following the rugged coastline North to Mauna Kea Beach, this is an easy hike with some spectacular views, if you can tear yourself away from your beach chair!

During the lockdown on the Big Island, the beaches were closed for several weeks.  I’ve written about our experience of lockdown in Hawaii in my previous posts.

The beaches slowly started to re-open towards the end of May.  This was initially for “exercise” only, and no sunbathing.  As this didn’t seem to be particularly enforceable, and for the most part, people were “social distancing”, sunbathing and swimming were soon reinstated as “safe” activities.

After being largely confined to our small corner of paradise (Waikoloa Beach resort), it was very refreshing to walk onto the soft white sand, and be close to the ocean again.  I feel the happiest and most relaxed on a beautiful beach!

Hapuna is one of my favourite beaches in the area, and is apparently world-renowned for it’s white sands and crystal waters.

There are good facilities at the beach park, with showers, toilets and picnic areas (as of May 2020, the picnic areas were still closed due to Covid-19)

Hapuna Beach to Mauna Kea Beach

Distance: Around 2.4 miles out and back.

Difficulty: Easy, but some uneven, rocky ground.  Sturdy footwear preferable


At the Northern end of the beach, where the sand ends, it’s a little scramble up the hill to the trailhead, to the left of the Westin resort. 

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Keeping the ocean on your left, you can’t really go wrong, as long as you heed the warning signs to keep away from the edge, where it may be unsafe.  A couple of times, the correct route will lead you more uphill, away from the coast.

As you continue along the black, rocky coastline, there are other places where it’s safe to walk down to the water and explore the colourful stone beaches

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The trail will take you past some stunning prime real estate on your right, with completely unspoiled oceanfront views.. from the infinity pool, of course.  An absolute dream location (if you have $10m or more to spare!).

Turning back to the water, take in the panoramic ocean vistas as you head towards the Mauna Kea Beach resort, where you double back and re-trace your steps, around the golf course.

Beautiful views towards Puako on the way back to Hapuna Beach
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The approach to Hapuna Beach & Bay.  The clear water looks very inviting after hiking in the afternoon heat!

The Big Island may be world famous for its volcanoes, but it has a lot more to offer, including some spectacular beaches and coastline, especially on the West side. If you have time during your visit to head to the Hapuna Beach area, I would highly recommend taking the time to walk this short trail, which will give you a unique perspective on this wildly beautiful island. 

At the time of writing, Hawaii has extended its quarantine rules through to September 2020, and travel restrictions remain in place.

We are all hoping that travel starts to become more accessible again, and that we can continue our adventures once it is safe to do so. 

In the meantime, If you’ve enjoyed this post, do let me know, and please feel free to follow me using the buttons below.  You can also follow my Instagram and Twitter feed to see what other adventures I’m up to!

travel safe and Mahalo!



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