South Kona has many hidden treasures and one of them is Ho’okena Beach Park. Tucked away at the end of a winding road through ranch land and quietly grazing horses, this hidden beach is an understated local favorite.
Ho’okena Beach Park is located in South Kona on the west side of the Big Island. Camping, swimming, snorkeling or boogie boarding – Ho’okena has it all. Nestled at the end of Kauhako Bay near the cliffs, the beach consists of a mix of black and white sand. The sand can get hot so make sure you pack your flip flops. A line of large trees along the beach edge creates an oasis of shade, making it the perfect spot to spread a blanket and have a picnic.
Where is it?
Hoʻokena Beach Park is located 20 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Highway 11.
Directions from Kailua Kona
Turn right onto Hoʻokena Beach Road just after the 102 mile marker. Follow the road down to the beach park (approximately 2.5 miles). When you reach the end make sure you take a left down a narrow road to the parking lot.
Directions from Hilo & Volcano
Head north on Highway 11. Continue past the 101 mile marker and Kealia Ranch Store. The next left will be Ho’okena Beach Road. Look for the big green road sign.
Outdoor showers, county restroom facilities, camping parking and picnic tables. No pets allowed.
There are sites available on the beach for tent camping. A permit is required. For more information, check out Camp Ho’okena.
Parking is available only within the beach park area. Please note: respect the residents – do not park alongside the roadway, or in anyway that might block the one lane road from the top of the hill down to the beach, or prevent access to nearby residential homes, properties, or cause damage to exposed water lines (that supply water to residents).
The History of Ho'okena
In the 1880s Ho’okena Beach Park was the location of a steamship mooring site. At the time Ho’okena village was a vibrant port, with trade bringing prosperity to the area. There was a wharf, school, courthouse, livery stable and jail. Robert Louis Stevenson stayed a week in Ho’okena when he visited the Big Island in 1889. He mentions Ho’okena in ‘Travels in Hawaii’.
In the early 20th century Ho’okena village began to decline as steamship visits were reduced. By the late 1920s the wharf was receiving so little in the way of regular freight that stores as well as the local post office were forced to close. Storms in the 1930s permanently damaged the landing at Ho’okena and gradually the town’s population dwindled as residents moved further inland to be closer to the highway.
Termites and then an earthquake in 1951 caused the Puka’ana Church to collapse. Take a hike north along the beach to view the old church ruins, stone house platforms and what remains of the old wharf.
The Friends of Ho’okena Beach Park (FOHBP) was formed with the express purpose of preserving the cultural integrity of the beach. Part of this objective is developing sustainable business opportunities that both enhance the beach and provide employment to the local community.