Manini’owali Beach is a secluded and small white sand beach at Kua Bay, just north of Kona. 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 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.
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 (although there may be a food truck at the parking lot), and make sure to leave nothing behind but footprints.
Starting July 2019 there will be a life guard at the beach, showers and toilets are available at the parking lot.
What is the 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. There is little shelter from the sun and in general we like to go early to avoid the midday sun (and crowds).
Sunsets at Kua bay are spectacular, so if your itinerary has enough room for a late beach visit this is certainly something we recommend. Keep an eye on the time though because the access road to the beach closes at 7PM. Sunset times in spring and summer are typically after 7 pm (see sunset times throughout the year for Hawaii here) so our “see the sunset” advice is best taken during fall and winter.
Directions to Kua Bay
Kua Bay is part of the Kekaha 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. The parking lot at the bay is small so make sure to arrive early on weekends or count on a 5 minute walk to the beach.
More beaches close to Kua Bay
Kua bay lies midway between Kona (where you can find e.g. King Kam beach at Ali’i drive) and the paradise-like white sand beaches at the Kohala coast (see e.g. beach 69, Hapuna beach and Mauna Kea beach).
For a list of all beaches on the Big Island see our map of Big Island beaches.