Kua bay on the Big Island

Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay)

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Manini’owali Beach is the secluded and small white sand beach at Kua Bay. The water in the bay is crystal clear and the beach is more difficult to reach than other nearby white sand beaches. This makes Kua Bay according to us a strong competitor for the title of “best white sand beach” on the Big Island!

The beach at Kua Bay

Manini’owali beach is mostly made out of soft white sand. Kua bay can get good (big!) waves in the winter but is great for snorkeling if the water is calm. Wildlife sightings (turtles and an occasional dolphin) are normal in the water of the bay.

kua bay big island hawaii beach
The white sand at Kua Bay consists mostly of shells and bits of coral, with some pieces of black lava rock

There is almost no shade at the beach, and beach access is somewhat tricky because you have to clamber down ~10 ft of lava rocks to get to the sandy part of the beach. Bring your own drinks and food since you cannot buy anything at the beach, and make sure to leave nothing behind but footprints.

Showers and toilets are available at the parking lot, ~100 meters from the beach access.

White sand beach at Kua Bay
This is what the beach at Kua Bay looks like as you approach on the access road.

Best time to visit Kua bay

Kua bay is a popular destination in the weekend for locals and tourists, so the best time to visit is during weekdays.

Sunsets at Kua bay are spectacular, so if your itinerary has enough room for a late beach visit this is certainly something we recommend.

Kua Bay
Kua Bay is a small beach with good surf in the winter and snorkeling in the summer

Directions to Kua Bay

Kua Bay is part of the Kakaha Kai state park. You can find Manini’owali beach just north of the Kona airport. Take the second exit to the left, 4.6 miles  or 7.5 km after passing the Kona airport. The exit you are looking for is opposite the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery, which is better signposted than the beach.

You reach the park entrance almost directly (~0.1 miles) after you make the left turn.

Kua Bay entrance
Kua Bay is part of the Kakaha Kai state park just north of the Kona airport. This is what the park entrance looks like.

Finally, the parking lot at the bay is small so make sure to arrive early on weekends.

Beaches close to Kua Bay

Kua bay lies midway Kona (King Kam beach at ali’i drive) and the paradise-like white sand beaches (see e.g. beach 69Hapuna beach and Mauna Kea beach) at the Kohala coast.

For a list of all beaches on the Big Island see our map of Big Island beaches.