Formerly known as Kona Coast State Park, this beach park is known for its brilliant white sand offsetting even more brilliant turquoise water. With several sandy bays and coves well-hidden from the highway, the park has two official entrances. About 4 1/2 miles north of the airport off Highway19 (across from West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery) is the turnoff for Maniniowali Beach, better known as Kua Bay. A thankfully paved road crosses acres of craggy lava, leading to the parking lot and a short, paved walkway to an even shorter, sandy scramble down a few rocks to the beach. It has restrooms and showers, but absolutely no shade or drinking water, so come prepared. Locals flock here to sunbathe, swim, bodyboard, and bodysurf, especially on weekends, so go during the week, and in mornings, when it’s cooler. If you have a 4WD vehicle, you can take the marked turnoff 22 miles north of the airport off Highway 19 and drive 1 1/2 bumpy miles over a rough lava road to the parking area for sandy Mahaiula Beach, reached by another short trail. Sloping more steeply than Kua Bay, this sandy beach has stronger currents than Kua Bay, although if you’re fit you can still swim or snorkel in calm conditions. You can also just laze under the shade—you’re likely to see a snoozing green sea turtle or two. A 4.5-mile coastal trail to Kua Bay starts at the north end of Mahaiula; about a mile in you pass white-sand Makalawena Beach, not safe for swimming but occasionally attractive to nude sunbathers. Midway on the trail, mostly on lava bed that radiates heat, is the 342-foot-high cinder cone Puu Kuili, which you can climb for a sweeping view.
Off Highway 19. The state park is open daily from 9am to 7pm.