September 29, 2013
It was the first day in our 2013 trip to Big Island and we decided to take it easy. But we also wanted to go to some new and preferably quiet place, since in was Sunday. That’s why we choose Makalawena Beach. Makalawena is probably the best beach on the Big Island that can’t be reached by car. The 30 minutes hike to Makalawena is strenuous enough to keep the crowds away.
Makalawena Beach is a part of Kekaha Kai State Park. It is often called the most secluded beach on Kona; and it lives up its name. To reach the beach, you need to drive Highway 19 (Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway) from Kona. When you reach about a mile north of the Keahole-Kona International airport, look for the old donkey crossing sign. There you find the park entrance on your left. Follow the park road. The road ends at the Kekaha Kai parking lot (the other public beach). Now you need to follow the lava trail that starts at the parking lot. It is a 20-30 minutes’ walk on lava fields.
You can also climb Pu’u Ku’ili as a side trip. Pu’u Ku’ili is an old cinder cone, which you pass on your way to the Kekaha Kai parking lot. It is only ~ 120 m above sea level, but it is much higher than all flat land around it, so it provides a nice view over the Kekaha Kai State Park and the Kona Coast. It is a wonderful place to watch for sunrise or sunset and to take pictures.
The trail leads north from along an old carriage road to the abandoned Magoon Mansion. It is a big red house which once belonged to a prominent part-Hawaiian family called the Magoons. At the mansion, the trail runs to the shore and through a small grove of dead keawe trees, and then over the a lava field to the beach dunes. Black lava is spotted with white corals which makes it look as if some artist tried to do some landscaping there.
Since this trail goes over very rough lava, sturdy footwear is strongly advised. And water. Lava is black and hot, but the nice ocean breeze makes this walk the most enjoyable.
The land near the beach is owned by Bishop Estate/Kamehameha Schools. I heard that it is scheduled to be turned into a development of condos and resorts. That is very sad. The only way to keep this last, wild Kona beach wild, I believe is to try protest as much and as loud as possible in all media.
The name of a beach – “Makalawena”, in Hawaiian means “mischievous winds.” Ancient Hawaiian sailors as well as modern navigators know that the region around Makalawena Beach is gusty place of locally unpredictable winds.
The beach is a delightful empty place. When we reached it, we found somebodies tent hidden in the trees – someone lucky was backpacking there. I wish it was me. The beach is the one of the finest swimming and snorkeling beaches on Big Island (when there are no mischievous winds that could be very dangerous). It also has a small grove with refreshing shade, big sand dunes, and a nice freshwater pond. There is a gang of wild goats that inhabit the area and use the local springs for watering. We did not see them this time, but saw their poop.
Black lava and white corals make the strange out of this world perception.