Even though we are on an island, the enormous open spaces are still plentiful on rural Hawaii Island. They are particularly abundant in areas like the districts of Ka’u and North Kohala. These two wide-open districts also happen to have three of the nicest beaches that are very easy to get to.
The Ka’u District is a vast, windy, and wildly beautiful place, and if you know where to go, it can be a great place for adventure. In Ka’u, we frequently go to the black sand beach at Punalu’u and enjoy fishing and floating around in the cool water. It is the closest beach to our house and is usually less crowded than the beaches in Hilo. Occasionally a tour bus pulls in and stops for a while, but more often than not, the beach is very mellow and it is good for families. It also happens to be a great place to spot sea turtles. It is best to get there before 2 p.m. because the clouds start to stack up against Mauna Loa and usually cloud over the beach.
Also in the Ka’u District, and somewhere that I absolutely love, is the Kipuka Pualulu (Bird Park) Trail. It is a relatively easy 1.2 mile loop hike with several benches to rest or eat lunch on along the way, and informative signs about the flora and fauna posted throughout your hike. The cool mountain air and constant shade make the hike even more pleasant. This place is special because it is a haven for native birds. The peacefulness and quiet of the forest allows you to really hear the different sounds and songs emanating from the birds; and if you’re lucky, you may see one of the several varieties of Hawaiian honeycreepers. This is an easy way to get acquainted with a native Hawaiian forest and educate yourself about native plants and wildlife.
Since we can sometimes go through long periods of rain in our zone, escape from the humid environment is essential. Often, we head over to one of our “go-to” drier spots on the West side of the island, which is commonly referred to as “Kona side”. If we are driving through the district of Ka’u, there is Ho’okena beach, which is about thirty minutes south of Captain Cook as you’re heading North toward Kona. Ho’okena beach is really great for sun bathing, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling, and they even have rentals right on the beach if you didn’t bring your own. It is a great place to bring a cooler and umbrella and camp out for the day. It is best to get here early as the parking is minimal and it fills up fast.
Headed up the west coast, to the North Kohala district near Kawaihae, there is a nice family style camping spot called Spencer Beach Park. This is an easy-breezy keiki (child) camping spot as they have showers, bathrooms, picnic tables and very calm waves. The wind can get a little fierce and big gusts can whip your hat or sunglasses off your head if you’re caught off-guard. Another interesting feature, is that the beach is right next to the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historical Site and is within walking distance. There is no admission fee, (yay!) and it has an information center and walking paths to view the original temples built by King Kamehameha the Great. The weather is normally very hot and dry here, so a water bottle and sunscreen is an absolute must if you’re going to explore. For more information about this historical site, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/puhe/index.htm
I feel so unbelievably fortunate to have as many microclimates and environments to explore as I do. There is always something to do if you like being outdoors. We’ve got it all, from Mauka to Makai.