Beach Color in Hawaii and Beaches Quality in Kona

I’m planning a trip and have read your q&a on doing so. My question that I can’t seem to figure out is, on what island/beach will I find the ocean water to be that crystal blue/green so clear that you can see through. I know it may sound silly but that’s what I’m looking for, I prefer white sandy beaches with that aqua turquoise color. I’ve done some searches on “what color is the ocean in hawaii” etc but haven’t found what I’m looking for.

I’d like to visit waterfalls, do some snorkeling, visit a volcano (not the highest priority) I’m thinking that I’ll take two weeks. I’m traveling with a friend who is providing me with free airline passes to get there, he said something about going to the big island first, then on to kona, he’ll be with me the first few days and then he’ll be leaving me on my own. I’d like a place to relax, enjoy the water, snorkel, do some sight seeing.

Ok, that crystal blue-green you are looking for, I think that comes from a play of the sunlight through the water, and only happens with very shallow, long, open beaches (meaning not coves) where the bottom is all white sand.

Hawaii is not the best place for these types of beaches, in my opinion, because of how quickly the water becomes deep almost everywhere.

You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of it when the sun is right on most any island, for example, look at the second to the last picture here on Kauanoa beach on the big island – and the last picture of Abay on the big island here – and look at the last couple pictures of Kailua beach on Oahu here – and then a pic of anini beach on Kauai here.

Now, although I have two examples on the Big Island, the Big Island will really be the hardest island to see something like this on – only beaches on the west side would even have a chance.

Here’s one more thing to kind of get you thinking. See my pictures here from a boat tour we did in the Kealakekua Bay. Notice the difference in the colors of the water in the pictures. we were in 50 to 75 foot deep, perfectly clear water, and all those pics were taken within 10 minutes and 20 feet or so of each other – to this day I don’t know why the extremem difference in the color of the water.

The beaches right in Kona are interesting, but not spectacular. The little beach to the left of the Kailua pier sometimes has the pretty green color, but it’s not a beach to hang out on – more like a tiny strip of sand that sometimes gets swallowed by the ocean when the tide is high. Kids like it.

There’s a few more beaches along Alii Drive like Magic Sands and Kahaluu, but none of them will wow you that much. Kahaluu has lots of turtles which is cool.

Many places on the west side of the Big Island, which will be up north of Kona 15-30 miles, will make you happy.
… hmm, rereading I see you are going to be at the Marriott – if so, that would possibly be the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, which is on the West side and right on Anaehoomalu Bay (or A-Bay) and you willl probably like it, especially if you can make a trip to the Hapuna beach and maybe even the Kauanaoa Beach.

anyway, have an awesome time! Lisa

Kona to Hilo Bus Schedule

I will be visiting Hawaii later this month and will be travelling to the Big Island. I have two nights accommodation booked in Kona and then two nights in Hilo. I very much want to experience everything that both towns have to offer including diving with the Manta Rays and seeing active lava flow. I will be travelling on my own and I have heard that car hire in Hawaii is very expensive when you take all the extras into consideration. I was thinking of taking the bus from Kona to Hilo but I am not sure where I would need to catch it from. I will be staying at the Keauhou Beach Resort, would appreciate your advice on what would be the best option.

Hi Robyn, the hele on bus schedule is here: – as you can see, the bus stops at the Sheraton Keauhou at 6:20 am, every day but sunday. The Sheraton Keauhou is just down the road from the Keauhou beach resort – maybe 15 minutes or so walk. If I were you, as soon as you check in, I would tell the front desk your plans to take the bus and see what they suggest – maybe they could even call the sheraton keauhou and find out exactly where the bus picks up at over there.

Hilo and Kona and Honolulu Cruise Port of Call Help

I’ve come across your website while researching our trip (boyfriend and I). We are planning a cruise in September and wanted to know how accessible shuttle services are from the ports.

1. Hilo cruise ports to Akaka falls. Should we take a taxi or is there a shuttle, what are the costs?
2. Honolulu port to HNL international airport. We want to be at the airport by 630-7am, how much would a taxi cost, I see that the airport is fairly close by.
3. In Kona we plan to follow your advice and visit Kahaluu Beach, is this difficult to get to? How much would a jet ski/ boat be?

We were just wondering how close attractions are from the ports, and what to expect if we took cabs or if public transit was easy/reliable (we don’t want to miss our departure at each ports).

Honolulu port to the airport would be about $20 to $30.

Hilo to Akaka falls, you probably will need to take a taxi, although sometimes shuttles are offered. You may have to wait till your are on the ship or even till you get off at port to know about the shuttle. Taxi is $3.20 a mile, so it could cost you $64 one way. Many times the taxis are vans, so if you could fit three couples in a van you could split it three ways.

In Kona, Kahaluu Beach is around the 5 mm, while the cruise ship is around the 0 mm, so that will be much more reasonable by taxi. – less than $20 one way.

Jet ski is $100 something for the hour but it’s just on a circular track. To rent a boat is going to be $370+ for a half day. Renting a scooter or bikes is easy too and not too much money.

Each port is different, and each port will have a different amount of resources trying to help you see what you want to see. Hilo and Kona are generally the hardest to figure out because the island is so big and in Hilo not as many tourists come in, so there’s not as many companies catering to them.

Don’t worry, I’m sure it will all come together nicely for you and you’ll have a great time 🙂 Lisa

Big Island MWR Army and Air Force Facilities

I stumbled upon your site while Googling military vacations on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am familiar with the military beaches and cottages on Oahu as I lived there for several years. I’ve also been to the one at Kiluea (she means Kilauea Military Camp or KMC) on the Big Island.

I have received an invitation to the Big Island in January. However, the location is unfamiliar to me. There is supposed to be cottages and/or tent camping on the BI at Bellows AFB. Is there such a place? I know Bellows on Oahu very well. Can you please tell me what military beaches/accommodations are available on the Big Island? I searched for it on the net, but came up empty. My friend may have her info wrong!

As far as I know there is no Bellows on the Big Island. There is a Bradshaw Army Airfield on Saddle road, and nearby there is Mauna Kea State park, where you can do tent camping or cottage camping. That is probably what she is thinking of. KMC is the only other Military MWR facility I know of on the Big Island, and there are no military beaches. There is not currently a large military presence on the Big Island. good luck! Have fun! Lisa

Turtle Watching and Marine Biology in Hawaii

Hey, just found your website because i was watching one of your videos on youtube, i’m a 17 year old biology and geography student from england and i’m hoping to become a marine biologist who specialises in sea turtles. and i want to come to hawaii in summer 2010, to get some great diving experiance, and to see alot of sea turtles and other marine life in their natural habitats. it seems like you know alot about hawaii, and you seem better then all my local travel reps and i was wondering which island would be best to stay at? where are sea turtles most common? and what good marine experiances are out there? your help would really help me to achieve my lifetime ambition thanks

I know there are marine biology programs at our local colleges here – have you contacted anyone at UH Hilo or UH Manoa?

Well, there are turtles on every island and you can see them easily anywhere in Hawaii – really. go down to the beach and there they are – just about any beach with rocks around somewhere. I think I will suggest the Big Island for you though, because the big island has many opportunites to see many turtles. There’s a little pool to the left of Onekehakaha beach where they come in to sleep at night and I’ve seen 12 or more at a time there. You can almost always see them at punaluu and kahaluu beaches.

Look into the big island – Hilo or Kona, I think it’s what you are looking for. Aloha! Lisa

i have just contacted both colleges that you told me about and i’m waiting for a reply id love to move over to hawaii and go to university their. but i dont quite understand how my qualifications will transfer into credits. i was wondering if their are any conservation scemes i can book myself on for the summer of 2010? preferably sea turtle ones. and if you know any good diving schools where i can get a qualification in diving? thankyou, been a great help. Aloha !

you’re welcome!

why don’t you look into positions at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I know they have summer intern positions and they have seasonal openings. I also have heard that they sometimes hike out into the backcountry and camp on the beach to protect the turtles that come in to lay their eggs.

As for diving schools, there are tons. I wouldn’t look into this until you get here since you don’t know exactly where you’ll be.

Kona-Kohala Remote and Secret Beaches, Big Island Hawaii

I will be traveling to the West side of the Big Island slightly north of Kona this coming January. Do you recommend any remote less crowded beaches to go too?

I have hiked from Hwy 19 to a couple of secluded beaches off of the beaten path. Is this safe to do?

It is 100% safe to do., in my opinion. People do it all the time. There is very little person on person crime here.

You could go to Maumae Beach through the Mauna Kea Beach hotel. The entrance station guard will give you a map. It’s a beautiful beach. There is Kiholo Bay and Beach 69 or Waialea Beach. the trailhead is by the 71 mile marker. Also try Makalawena, which you walk to from a trail at Kona Coast state Park. about 20 minutes.

Have a great time!

Beach 69 Video

Big Island Secrets and Remote Nature Activities

I’m travelling to the Big Island in a week, staying in Koana. On your advise, I’m sticking to one island for my first visit. I’m not the late night party type, and enjoy the nature side of the land. The Big Island sounded more like me. I want to see the volcano, attend a Luau, go to the green, and black beach (Jeep already reserved), and I’m looking at the ATV (Riding the Rim) ride. I like the remote, out of the norm for tourist places. I was reading about the lava tubes that are filled with fresh water. Sounded incredible. With what I have described, please offer some advise, and maybe a few secrets about the Big Island.

well, your trip sounds like one I would love. 🙂 the green sand beach is awesome – if you keep driving past the beach you’ll find all sorts of neat nooks and crannies and coves. We used to go camping down there a lot.

I haven’t done the riding the rim tour but it looks like fun – if you wanted to drop me a line and let me know how you liked it I would love that.

How about a manta ray night dive or snorkel? I haven’t done this but people rave about it.

Or renting a boat: we just did this and really had a good time. If you don’t rent a boat you should consider a boat tour to Kealakekua Bay or renting a kayak and going out in the bay. The snorkeling is amazing and frequently you see large dolphin pods.

You know, I don’t know what’s a secret and what’s not anymore so I found a page that professes to tell secrets 🙂 it all looks good to me. 🙂

If you really like nature you should head up to saddle road or even the mauna kea visitor center on a clear night: – the expanse of stars practically on top of you is amazing. Like nothing I’ve ever seen anywhere else. When I drive over the saddle at night I always have to stop and take it in for a bit.

As for the lava tubes filled with fresh water – I’ve never heard of that. Where are they? – this vacationer wrote back and sent me a link – it’s Queens Bath at Kiholo Bay. According to Hawaii the Big Island Revealed there are several of these around the island (anyplace that is a good place to bathe ends up being called Queens’ Bath).
I know you are going to have an AWESOME time!

Big Island Itinerary


  • Fri PM leave Oakland 3:30pm
    EVE arrive Hilo 7:05; drive to Honaka’a
    Hotel Hotel Honaka’a
  • Sat AM Mamane Bakery; HAWAIIAN MACADAMIA PLANTATION, INC., Waipi’o Valley; drive down Valley Rd, Kahuahine Falls & Waiulili Falls
    PM take Rt 19 west to Kawaihae; Pu’ukohola Heiau; Hapuna Beach swimming and snorkeling; Malama Petrograph Trail
    EVE check in at hotel and relax (die) or go to ukulele entertainers, Kings Shops at the Waikoloa Resort. Call (808) 886-8811
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Sun AM Hulihe’e Palace; Mokuaikauna Church; Cloud Forest
    PM Kahalu’u Beach, snorkeling
    EVE open
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Mon AM snorkeling/whalewatching
    PM open
    EVE open
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Tues AM Keauhou Sea Cave Adventure (kayaking/snorkeling)
    PM open
    EVE open
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Wed AM check out; Captain Cook; Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden; Holualoa Kona Coffee Company tour; Ho’okena, Green Sand Beach; Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
    PM continue drive to Volcanos National Park
    EVE open
    Hotel Volcano Cabins
  • Thurs AM Visitor Center, Jagger Museum, Crater Rim Drive, walk Devastation Trail and Thurston Lava Tube walk
    PM Chain of Craters Road
    EVE picnic lunch at End of Chain of Craters Road
    Hotel Volcano Cabins
  • Fri AM check out, leave park 5:30am, depart Hilo Airport 8:30am
    PM arrive Chicago
  • is this reasonable? I’m I getting at the good stuff or did I miss alot?

    It looks good to me – let me talk about a few things here:

    To drive down in Waipio Valley you need a four wheel drive. It’s not an easy drive. Have you found directions to the falls? Doing all this plus swimming at Hapuna beach will be quite a packed day.

    You’ll need a 4 wheel drive to get to the green sand beach too unless you plan on hiking a couple of miles each way.

    Don’t stress if you aren’t at the Hilo airport 2 hours before you fly out. ATA is the only airlines that goes to the mainland from Hilo. We just flew that flight to Oakland last week. We left our house at 7 am, got there at 7:15, and had NO problems. There were no lines – nothing. That’s just how the Hilo airport is usually. I’m not saying to plan to get there with only 1 hour and 15 minutes to spare like we did, but don’t stress about it.

    I think you covered about as much as possible in the time you have. Cool.

    Have fun! Lisa

    Flight departure to Kona, Big Island of Hawaii


    Flight departure to Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

  • Drive: for 3 to 4hrs to the Town of Volcano (See map) and stop at supermarket for groceries for the Bungalow
  • Check-in: Kate’s Bungalow Address: 19-4039 Hapu Ln, Volcano Ph: (877) 967-7990
  • Evening: At leisure (Pack lunches for tomorrow’s Volcano National Park excursion)
  • Tuesday

  • Morning: Hawaii Volcano National Park
  • Visit: The Visitor Center and obtain information about Volcano and the latest info and location of lava flow also ask about directions in and around the park. (There are two scenic drives with a wealth of volcano views An 11-mile drive, called Crater Rim, passes by many rising steam vents)
  • Visit: Steam Sulphur Banks Vents, Kilauea Overlook, Jaggar Museum, Halemaumau Crater, Devastation Trail (45min hike)
  • Afternoon: Thurston Lava Tube (20min hike), Kilauea Iki Overlook, Kilauea Iki Trail (Little Kilauea), Hilina Pali Overlook, Holei Sea Arch (end of road where lava flowed)
  • Evening: Return to see the lava flow after dark, (take a flashlight, water bottle, and jacket)
  • Wednesday

  • Morning: (Check-out) Wake up early and drive to Hilo Airport (1hour drive-See map to Hilo Airport)
  • Tour: (1010hrs) Blue Hawaiian Helicopter (Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls Tour) #1963497799 Ph: (800) 786-2583
  • Afternoon/Lunch: Lunch at Kuhio Grille 111 East Puainako Street, #A106, Hilo (Located at Prince Kuhio Shopping Plaza)
  • Drive: Richardson Beach Park (walk around and take a look at the black sand beach and scenery), Rainbow Falls State Park (at the edge of Hilo town and view the falls), North to scenic drive detour at Onomea Bay along the Hamakua Coast,
  • Visit: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens and Onomea Bay Trail (Stop at What’s Shakin Smoothie Stand near the Botanical Gardens for refreshments)
  • Drive: north to Akaka Falls State Park (Hike short trail-loop and view Kahuna Falls and Akaka Falls)
  • Drive: North to the Waipio Valley Overlook,
  • Drive: from Waimea, descending down to Kona
  • Check-in: Surf & Racquet Club Address: 78-6800 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona Ph: (808) 331-8878
  • Evening: At Leisure
  • Morning: At Leisure
  • Afternoon/Evening: (1320hrs) Mauna Kea Summit Adventures Tour (tour pick-up: Buns in the Sun 75-5675 Palani RD) Ph: (808) 322-2366
  • regarding the Big Island – which way are you driving to Volcano? The southern route or the northern route? The southern route may be your best bet, and it should only take 2 to 2.5 hours unless you stop a lot, which you may.

    And groceries? There are no major grocery stores along the southern route. It’d be best to stop in Kona. There is one in Naalehu but it’s small with very high prices.

    There’s a lot of things to do in Kona – go to Kahaluu Beach to snorkel and see turtles. Go to the Puuhonua National Park – I think your pass from the Volcanoes National Park might get you in. Check with them. Go on the Fairwinds boat tour – go on a glass bottom boat and or the atlantis submarine.

    related: Multiple island itinerary

    How to Best See the Volcano from Oahu

    Thanks 🙂 The volcano is on the Big Island, so the first thing you will need to do is get a flight to the big island – or you could look around for a tour company that would do an island tour for you, like this one.

    However, you are correct that right now the best viewing is from the air. You might just want to catch an inter-island flight to the Hilo airport and just walk over to the helicopter and small plane departures and take one of them, like Hilo Wings.

    If you do take a helicopter or small plane tour, here’s some pics of what you may see: my friend was up just last week and took these pictures.

    Now, as for the park being closed – everything is currently open except for some pretty advanced hiking trails near the current flow. The closures only lasted for a short time after the earthquakes around mid-June. There’s lot’s of interesting stuff to see and a huge crater that is easy to get to, but the flowing lava is only visible from the air right now. Check the absolute latest information with the National Park or my volcano blog.

    Have fun! Lisa

    First, what a great website! I find the information very interesting. My wife and I are planning a trip to Oahu next week and wanted to include a tour of the Volcanoes National Park. With all the current activity going on and based on their website, it appears that a good portion of the park is closed. We were really hoping to see some neat things, including lava, etc. With these developments, does it make more sense to tour from the air instead of the ground? If we still elected to tour from the ground, what is still open that would be worth seeing?

    Ocean Views and Access in Hawaiian Paradise Park

    November 17, 2006 by · 2 Comments
    Filed under: Big Island, Big Island Areas 

    At the bottom of Hawaiian Paradise Park, Beach Road and Paradise Ala Kai run along the ocean. There is no beach in Hawaiian Paradise Park, it is all mostly 30 foot cliffs. The views are very beautiful – sunrise especially. Sunset is on the other side of the island, so you can’t see it, but the sky and ever-present clouds are still beautiful colors at sunset.

    Here’s some ocean-related activities in Paradise Park:

    If you went down Makuu and took a right at the dead end and parked where the road stops you could see the ocean and find some tide pools but I wouldn’t get in the ocean there – the waves are too big. We sometimes go in the tidepools. If you went down Makuu and took a left at Beach Road and parked your car at the boulders where the road is closed this is a great area to take an evening or morning walk on the dirt road or past and around this whole area. I’ve been walking or riding my bike here for 10 years – I see whales and dolphins and gorgeous sunsets (you can’t see the sun, but the colors are still amazing when the winds are right). The sunrises are probably phenomenal but I don’t get up till 7:30 🙂 . You can also get to this area by going down Paradise and taking a right on Beach Road and parking anywhere.

    You also could go down Makuu and take a right on Beach Road and go in for about a 1/2 mile. You’ll see big concrete poles cemented into the ground at the head of what looks like a very long driveway, blocking any vehicle access in. You could park your car (I see people do it, but I would be uncomfortable because I would be afraid someone would break in – we ride bikes down here to avoid leaving cars at the top) and walk in. At the end of the ‘driveway’ there are fantastic tide pools big enough to swim in if the ocean is calm. One of them is over 10 feet deep and there are tons of fish in them. However, if the ocean isn’t calm this is a very dangerous place – the waves come right up over the rocks and drag you across them if you are in the way.

    About Hawaiian Paradise Park on the Big Island

    November 17, 2006 by · 6 Comments
    Filed under: Big Island, Big Island Areas 

    Hawaiian Paradise Park is a quiet, large, residential subdivision in Puna, sometimes shortened to HPP. It is located makai (ocean-side) of Highway 130 somewhere before the 3 and just past the 6 mile markers on Highway 130. The main roads of Hawaiian Paradise Park are Shower Drive, Kaloli Drive, Paradise Drive, and Makuu Drive, in that order if you are driving South (from Keaau towards Pahoa). Directly across the Highway is the subdivision of Orchidland Estates.

    Kaloli, Paradise, and Makuu all run over three miles to the ocean and are paved. Most of the crossroads are currently red cinder. The top-most crossroad is 32nd Street, and the bottom most complete road is 1st Street. The drive from the highway to the ocean is over 3 miles. The crossroads between Paradise and Makuu and Kaloli and Shower are all about 1 mile long. The HPP community association website has a gorgeous aerial picture of the entire area.

    Most of us in the park are on catchement tanks. We have phone, DSL, and electricity. Mail delivery is via post office boxes on the side of the main roads. There is no county garbage pickup (most of us drive to the transfer station and dump our trash ourselves) but some entrepreneurs pick up trash once a week for a fee. We pay $140 or so annually in fees. It’s been going up every year for 10 years by 5 or 10 dollars.

    We have no stores and no park in the subdivision. The community association is trying to get the county to put a park in right now and asking the residents for input. There is a gas station and a small grocery store and plate lunch place right across the highway. Pahoa and Keaau are both about 4.5 miles away in opposite directions. Hilo is about 17 miles away. There is only one road in and one road out of Hilo, and the traffic is starting to get crazy.

    Most lots in HPP are 1 acre. They have been zoned agricultural in the past and there are plenty of orchid farms and some people have horses or greenhouses in their back yard, but mostly the subdivision is just residential houses with really big yards.

    Other roads in HPP are Railroad, Paradise Ala Kai, H Road, K Road, Ala Heiau, and Beach Road. However, there is no beach, just cliffs and some tidepools.