Planning Your Time in Kohala

The only reason to plan your time in Kohala is so that you remember to leave that perfect beach you’ve been lounging on for days.

The afternoons in Kohala can cloud over, so plan your day accordingly. If you are spending an entire week in Kohala, as many do, take the time to explore the assorted beaches, such as the well-regarded Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area or a resort beach, which you are free to visit because all beaches must have public access points even for nonguests. Experienced divers and snorkelers should head to the Puako tide pools for a multitude of sea life or to Mahukona Beach Park to discover an unofficial underwater museum of debris left from the plantation and railroad days.

Landscape grass and a flat beach at Hapuna beach park on the Big Island.
Hapuna Beach park on the Big Island. Photo © Jenn Kahalau Photography, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

There are some great trails best visited early morning or late afternoon—the short Kalahupipua‘a Trail near the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, the Malama Trail to view ancient petroglyphs, or the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, which spans most of the length of the Kohala region. If you need more breaks from the beach, hop in the car and take an extremely scenic drive up the coast (from Highway 19 to Highway 270), watching for whales peeking out from the ocean (only in the winter) on your way to the Pololu Valley for sunset.

Even though the distance is short, you can take your time with this drive, stopping at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory on the way and then wandering through the shops in Hawi. Or, use the afternoons for several short jaunts to the north for some of the best lunch places on the island or for ziplining and kayaking the ditches of plantation days or even for traveling to Waimea, which is only about 20 minutes away from the Kohala Coast and has cooler weather.

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